§ Mr. G. LAMBERT
asked the President of the Board of Trade if all available shipbuilding resources will, apart from work on warships, be concentrated on building and completing plain and economical food and commerce carriers, and that work on vessels involving decoration should be suspended on such vessels completed without ornamental trappings?
All shipbuilding resources which are available at present for building merchant ships are engaged in the building of cargo carriers, and arrangements are being made to concentrate available labour as far as possible on the ships nearest completion.
§ Major ASTOR
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Board have given any instructions to shipbuilders as to the type, size, and speed which are considered best in the national 905W interest for new merchant and passenger ships; and whether the shipbuilders are allowed to take orders for new ships which do not comply with these instructions?
Definite instructions have not yet been issued to shipbuilders, but no ship can be laid down without a certificate from the Board of Trade. Certificates are only issued in the case of vessels which are considered best in the national interest.
§ Major ASTOR
asked whether there are in the United Kingdom any and, if so, how many ships, other than ships of war, completed or in course of construction for neutral countries; and whether the Government have powers to acquire these ships compulsorily?
There are twenty-eight vessels under construction for neutral countries at the present time, and arrangements have been made for these vessels when completed to be used in the national interest. There is power to requisition any ship building in this country.
§ Sir L. CHIOZZA MONEY
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Board of Trade has no practical knowledge or experience of shipbuilding whereas the Board of Admiralty have been for many years expert shipbuilders, he will take the matter of building new merchant ships, so necessary in the present emergency, entirely out of the hands of the Board of Trade and place all the shipyards of the country under the direct control of the Admiralty, with instructions to produce the largest number of standardised steamships in the shortest possible space of time?
The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. My hon. Friend's information is not correct. The Board of Trade have a large experience in the building of merchant ships, and in conjunction with the Admiralty are taking all possible steps to hasten the completion of merchant ships already under construction. They are, moreover, acting in close co-operation with the Admiralty in regard to the placing of new orders.