HC Deb 22 July 1959 vol 609 cc1273-4
24. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether, in view of the subsidy on agricultural limestone, he will consider making regulations to confine its coastal carriage to British ships.

Mr. Hay

No, Sir. The Government is opposed to flag discrimination of all kinds.

Mr. Wall

I accept that view, but does my hon. Friend appreciate the effect that this undercutting by Dutch coasters is having on the British coastal trade, and how particularly frustrating it is that it concerns goods which carry up to a 70 per cent. subsidy?

Mr. Hay

I understand what my hon. Friend means but, like this country, the Netherlands do not reserve their coastal trade to their own ships. My information is that in 1958 Dutch vessels represented only about 3 per cent. of the total number of ships operating in the coastal trade and only about 1 per cent. of the deadweight tonnage. We must keep this matter in perspective.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not that an astonishing reply, in view of the detrimental effect on British shipping of flags of convenience and flags of discrimination by other countries? Are we to undersand that the Government have now made up their mind that we are never to take retaliatory action in order to protect British shipping?

Mr. Hay

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was listening. I said that we were not prepared to take the same kind of flag discrimination action as we complain of when it is taken by other countries.

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