asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether 110 ships have been sold this year to foreigners; and, if so, will he explain why, and under what circumstances, such ships have been sold, in view of the serious depletion of British tonnage during the War?
§ Mr. PARKER
The number of vessels sold by the Shipping Controller to foreigners to date is as stated in the question. They have been sold mainly to France, Italy, and Belgium. The fact that our Allies were very largely prevented from utilising their own resources to replace their war losses in merchant shipping gave them a strong claim to be allowed to acquire a certain amount of British tonnage, and the needs of these countries in regard to the restoration of their economic life would in any event have involved the allocation of this amount of tonnage to their service. A few ships have been sold to neutrals in special circumstances, but in every case the requirements of British shipping were given priority.