HC Deb 25 January 1961 vol 633 cc169-70
49. Mr. Collick

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the continuing harmful effects on British shipping caused by ships sailing under flags of convenience; and if he will make representations to the Government of the United States of America in regard to this matter.

Mr. Hay

Yes, Sir; we are aware, of course, of this problem, although it is not exclusively a question of the policy of the United States. It is one of the problems which my right hon. Friend is examining in the light of the Survey sent to him recently by the General Council of British Shipping.

Mr. Collick

Why are we again examining this matter? Surely this question has been receiving the Government's attention for long enough to enable them to make a decision? Everybody knows that the United States shipping interests are the bugbear in this matter, and surely it is time the Government did something about it.

Mr. Hay

The hon. Member will remember that my right hon. Friend, when in America last year, made personal representations to the United States Government about it. Since then we have been in touch with them, in conjunction with our friends and allies in other parts of the world who have an equal interest in this matter. It is really a question to which I do not think there is a short or simple answer, and I hope that when my right hon. Friend is in a position to make a statement to the House about shipping generally he will be able to introduce matter on this particular point.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the general impression that there is now a more liberal-minded Administration in the United States, would it be desirable for Her Majesty's Government to make further representations to that Government with a view to removing what is undoubtedly a very serious problem for the maritime interests of Britain and other countries?

Mr. Hay

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the new Administration in the United States has been in office for only a few days. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition chose to raise this matter when he saw President Kennedy. We have really not had time to ask for their views on a matter of this kind.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my hon. Friend ask his right hon. Friend to ask the Prime Minister whether he will raise the question with the new President when he goes there?

Mr. Hay

I will bring that to the attention of both my right hon. Friends