HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 cc1153-4
14. Miss Ward

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation which countries have ceased practising flag discrimination against this country's shipping as a result of his representations.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

A number of countries have modified such practices. It would not be in the public interest to particularise.

Miss Ward

In view of the vital need for maintaining a vigorous British mercantile marine, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will grasp this nettle, and hang on to it, even if it stings, until the sting is eliminated, and our supreme position as of right to trade on the high seas is reasserted in no uncertain terms?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am not sure that I follow my hon. Friend in all her metaphors, but I think that I agree with her general point of view.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Minister giving this matter his serious attention, and is he aware that among the countries practising this very vicious and obnoxious practice of flag discrimination is the United States of America? What representations are being made to the United States Administration to persuade it to cease the practice?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In several previous answers on the subject, I have given a list of the countries which, in our view, are practising flag discrimination, and also a very clear indication of the action that we are taking. I have nothing to add at the moment.

Mr. Page

May I ask my right hon. Friend why he is so reticent about this, and why he will not tell the House of the great success which the Government have had in their determined efforts with the United States over the 50–50 rule?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

So far as the non-particularisation of particular countries is concerned—

Mr. Manuel

Very bad.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is awful, is it not?—my hon. Friend, as a member of the legal profession, will realise that when one has success in a negotiation it is not always wise to trumpet it about.

Mr. Shinwell

But if, in fact, success has been achieved, why should not the House be informed?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Gentleman has, I think, been in charge of international negotiations in his time, and, I think, knows the answer.

Mr. Awbery

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that when we purchase coal from America no conditions will be laid down about any quantity being carried in American vessels?

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