§ 69. Mr. Elwyn Jones
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why fewer ships were built in United Kingdom shipyards in 1952 than in 1951; why the tonnage under construction on 1st January, 1953, was lower than the tonnage on 1st January, 1952; and what steps are being taken to increase the output of the British shipbuilding industry.
§ Mr. Digby
The fall in the numbers of ships built in 1952 as compared with 1951 is mainly due to the steel shortage that developed in 1951. As regards tonnage under construction, I assume that the hon. Member's reference to a decline as between 1st January, 1952, and 1st January, 1953, is derived from information given by Lloyd's Register. Official figures, however, which are compiled on a slightly different basis, show a slight increase in tonnage under construction as between those dates.
Comparisons of figures as between two specific points of time are apt to be misleading. A truer picture is obtained if regard is paid to the general trend, as revealed in the average tonnage under construction over a period. I have examined the average figures for 1951 in comparison with the average for 1952 and find that neither on the basis of official figures nor on the figures given by Lloyd's Register is there any significant difference.
I have every hope that the supply of steel to the shipbuilders will improve this year and that this improvement will be reflected in increased output.