HC Deb 25 February 1965 vol 707 cc594-6
20. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to make available to British and foreign shipowners a line of credit at a modest rate, in order to attract shipbuilding orders back to this country.

32. Mr. Ian Lloyd

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take steps to ensure that British shipowners are enabled to build ships in British shipyards on loan terms which are at least as favourable as those available to their competitors.

35. Mr. Pounder

asked the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he has for improving credit facilities for British shipowners seeking to build ships in British shipyards.

59. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will seek to make special loan facilities available to British shipowners for orders placed in British yards.

Mr. Jay

Following my recent announcement of improved credit facilities for exports, orders exceeding a quarter of a million tons have been placed in British yards by foreign owners and the number of foreign inquiries has increased. I have no evidence that the credit facilities available at present to British shipowners adversely affect their competitive position.

Mr. Digby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing feeling that something useful on these lines is needed? Will he have another look at this in view of the necessity to help shipowners and shipbuilders?

Mr. Jay

We are certainly looking at this continuously, but since these credit facilities were improved by the present Government orders for shipbuilding have increased and the position is much more encouraging.

Mr. Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that although the methods which the Government have chosen to assist the shipbuilding industry are important to that industry, they are not the best which might be chosen if the results are to damage the shipowning industry of this country, which is the natural and obvious customer of the shipbuilding industry and, therefore, must be maintained primarily?

Mr. Jay

I do not think they are, but the hon. Gentleman knows that the investment allowance is available to the British shipowners.

Mr. Pounder

While I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that in recent weeks the credit facilities have been beneficial to British shipyards, is he aware that they are still far short of the boost given under the shipbuilding credit facilities of a year or so ago, and that if those were reintroduced that would be a great help?

Mr. Jay

For the long-term solution we are looking to the conclusions of the shipbuilding inquiry, about which my hon. Friend the Minister of State has spoken.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Would my right hon. Friend say whether it would be possible to refer this matter to the inquiry? Could they not be asked to make an interim report before the conclusion of their lengthy and full report?

Mr. Jay

I see no reason why they should not cover this issue in their discussions.

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