HC Deb 14 August 1919 vol 119 cc1673-4W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller the number and gross tonnage of all British vessels sold to foreign owners in each of the years 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919, and the number and gross tonnage of such vessels sold by the British Government authorities to foreign owners during each of such years; the names and the gross tonnages of British vessels still retained by the Shipping Controller, and the numbers and gross tonnage of vessels now under construction for or contracted to be built for the Shipping Controller; the numbers and gross tonnage of vessels now under construction for foreigners in the United Kingdom or contracted to be built in the United Kingdom for foreigners, and the number of licences granted by the British Government for the construction of vessels in the United Kingdom for foreigners; and the several orders made or directions given by the Shipping Controller under Regulation 39bbb since the date of the Armistice in respect of ships setting out the name of vessels, tonnages, ports, cargoes carried, and rates of freight, and the position of each vessel when such orders or directions were made or given; and whether, in respect of vessels now owned by the British Government or building or contracted to be built for them, such vessels will be sold by auction or private treaty to British buyers only?


A statement is being prepared giving the particulars desired with regard to vessels sold to foreigners, vessels owned by or under construction for the Shipping Controller, and vessels under construction for foreigners, so far as the information is available, and will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible. All voyages of British steamers over 500 tons gross outside the coasting trade have been controlled by the Ministry since the Armistice by means of a licensing system combined with direction. Much of the information desired by the hon. Member is not recorded by the Department as being unnecessary to the administration of the system, and the extraction of the remainder would involve an amount of labour out of all proportion to its value when obtained. The Shipping Controller is not prepared to undertake that vessels owned or built for the Government will in no case be sold to foreign buyers.