§ 15. Brigadier Rayner
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the tonnage of British shipping actually serving the West Indies in 1947, 1948 and 1949; how far this is adequate; and what steps are being taken to increase it.
As the answer is rather long and contains a number of figures I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the answer:
§ During 1947 and 1948 eight passenger-carrying British vessels of an aggregate gross tonnage of 47,337 were regularly employed on services between the United Kingdom and the West Indies. In 1949, two additional vessels of a total gross registered tonnage of 11,697 entered this service. These vessels made an average of eight round trips per annum. In addition passengers were carried on a number of cargo vessels and on vessels not engaged on regular services, the tonnage figures for which are not readily ascertainable. The tonnage of British (including Canadian) shipping plying regularly between Canada and the West Indies in 1947, 1948, and 1949 was 12,000, 22,000 and 23,950 respectively.
§ It is not possible to give the total tonnage of British tramp steamers which serve the West Indies, or that of other 1272 British ships which do not call regularly but whose visits to West Indian ports depend upon the availability of passengers or cargo at the time. There are also British ships plying between the West Indies and Australia and New Zealand, but I have no information to indicate the total tonnage of these or that of British ships regularly engaged in inter-island services in the West Indies.
§ I am advised that the cargo capacity available is, in general, adequate to meet present requirements, but that there are still seasonal deficiencies in the capacity available for passengers which have in the past been met as far as possible by special sailings arranged in consultation with the Ministry of Transport. I am considering, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, what steps can be taken to remedy those deficiencies in the future.