HC Deb 08 April 1959 vol 603 cc200-1
52. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement about the replacement of the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth" on the North Atlantic passenger service.

55. Commander Maitland

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in view of the assistance given by the Government towards the construction of the s.s. " Queen Mary " and s.s. " Queen Elizabeth ", what consideration he is giving to the problem of their replacement.

Mr. Watkinson

This is a matter which is at present under discussion between the Government and the Cunard Steam-Ship Company, which is in consultation with Messrs. John Brown & Company.

Mr. Osborne

While thanking my right hon. Friend for what appears to be help to be given to shipping companies to replace the two great liners, may I ask him to take both sides of the industry carefully in hand to see that public money is not used for feather-bedding purposes and that both sides use the money carefully when it is offered to them?

Mr. Watkinson

The Government are already a shareholder in the Cunard Company. It is therefore natural that we should be interested in plans for replacing the Queens. I agree that we shall have to be very satisfied that the plans for these new ships are modern and far-reaching because the ships will have to compete with the new types of jet aircraft on the North Atlantic when they come into service.

Sir L. Ropner

Is it true that the Government of the United States has decided to subsidise very heavily the construction of a new Atlantic liner?

Mr. Watkinson

Yes, I understand that that is true and that the subsidy is a very, very large proportion of the total cost of the vessel. That fact certainly adds to the difficulties of the Cunard Company, but it does not mean that the Cunard Company must leave the North Atlantic service, in which it has provided such a wonderful record.

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