HC Deb 27 November 1919 vol 121 cc1950-1W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller how many German vessels there were interned in South American waters requiring repair; whether the Allied Governments agreed that the British Government should arrange for their repair; whether Messrs. Anderson and Company, a Canadian firm, offered to undertake this on very moderate terms; whether the Ministry of Shipping have refused their offer and have arranged that the vessels shall be towed to Germany and repaired there; and why this work was not given to the Canadian firm in preference to a German firm?

Colonel WILSON

The number of German steamers in Central and South America was forty-four, and, with the exception of a very few vessels, all were in need of such very considerable repairs as would make it impossible for them to be used during the Armistice period. It has, therefore, been arranged that those vessels which could not be properly repaired on the spot should be towed to German yards and be repaired at German expense. The Germans, on completion of the repairs, will then hand them over to the Allies as seagoing ships and receive credit for them as such against their reparation liabilities. The above arrangement was made under the authority of the Organising Committee of the Reparation Commission. I would also point out that even if it had been possible for any Britsih or Colonial firm to have undertaken the repairs, the cost would have amounted to a very large sum of money, which would have had to be financed in cash by the British Government.