§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Roy Mason)
I have nothing to add to the Answer which I gave on 3rd December to the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor).
§ Mr. Bence
Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the heavy burdens borne by British shipbuilding and shipping, often in excess of the costs borne by competitors abroad, is the provision and the cost of credit? When my hon. Friend is examining the shipbuilding industry will he also look into the costs of credit provided by foreign Governments to their 1799 shipping lines in competition with ours, and will he do something to help ours to meet that form of competition?
Mr. Edward M. Taylor
Is the Minister of State aware that the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee made it clear in its last Report that credit was urgently required by the British yards to put them in an equal trading position with competitor nations? Is he also aware that, following his announcement last week, there has been a wave of depression in the shipbuilding industry, and that many yards have been taking on jobs at unremunerative prices in anticipation of continued sympathetic treatment from the Government?
§ Mr. Mason
I am aware of the Report which the hon. Gentleman mentioned. What was suggested in the second part of the supplementary question is not strictly true, and if the hon. Gentleman had observed the comments of the shipbuilders following my statement last week he would have seen that the more enlightened of them reacted favourably to that statement and said that at this stage this was reasonable while the general appraisal was being carried out.