§ Mr. Shinwell
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any estimate is available as to the number of vessels required to convey foodstuffs and other commodities in the event of war; whether he is aware that there are 2,000 fewer vesels in the Mercantile Marine than in 1914, and that the total carrying capacity 1934W is less; and whether there is any early prospect of a decision being reached by the Government on this matter?
§ Mr. Stanley
It is not possible to estimate the number of vessels required to convey foodstuffs and other commodities in the event of war, as the numbers will depend on the total capacity of the vessels employed. Owing to the fact that ships are now larger and faster and carry more cargo per gross ton, while the facilities for handling them in port give a quicker turn round, the total carrying capacity is probably not less than it was in 1914. As regards the last part of the question, I am not at present able to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 28th February.