HC Deb 25 February 1919 vol 112 cc1626-7W
Commander Sir E. NICHOLL

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller if any concessions and preference have been granted to the Norwegians, or any undertaking given, that we will build for them and deliver a certain guaranteed new tonnage during the next two or three years; and, if so, what is the reason?

Colonel L. WILSON

The Government have entered into an agreement with Norwegian owners to grant facilities for (1) the building of thirty-five ships of about 50,000 gross tons to replace vessels lost while under requisition by the British Government; and (2) for the laying down of about 260,000 gross tons in each of the three years after the cessation of hostilities. This agreement is in return for extremely valuable financial and tonnage assistance rendered to this country during the War.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller (1) if he will immediately take steps to stop the shipbuilding for, and sale of tonnage to, foreign countries until this country's pre-war supremacy of mercantile tonnage has been restored, following the enormous destruction and loss through enemy action; and (2) if he is aware that large sums of money have been handed over to North-East Coast shipbuilders by foreign countries to have the first call on new tonnage?

Colonel L. WILSON

The question raised by my hon. and gallant Friend has received the constant attention of the Shipping Controller for a long time past. The value to the nation of the extensive foreign connection possessed by British shipbuilders before the War is very great. Subject to this and to the obligations of Great Britain towards her Allies and certain neutral countries, of which Norway is the chief, whose tonnage has been made available for Allied service during the War, the policy of the Controller is to encourage and hasten in every possible way the restoration of the British Mercantile Marine. The powers at present vested in the Department enable the fullest control to be exercised over both sale to and construction of tonnage for foreign account, and the Controller is satisfied that no action has been taken in this regard to the prejudice of the paramount object referred to.