HC Deb 25 July 1955 vol 544 cc96-7W
Mr. Callaghan

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how frequently the Commonwealth Shipping Committee meets; what it does; on what date Her Majesty's Government took a decision not to refer shipping freight rates to the Committee; and under what circumstances it is still open to a Commonwealth Government to place the matter on the agenda.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The Committee meets as and when its business requires. Since 1945 it has held twenty-one meetings and published seven Reports. The work of the Committee is defined in its terms of reference, which are as follows:

  1. (i) To inquire into complaints from persons and bodies interested in regard to ocean 97 freights, facilities and conditions in the inter-Imperial trade, or questions of a similar nature referred to them by any of the nominating authorities; and to report their conclusions to the Governments concerned.
  2. (ii) To survey the facilities for maritime transport on such routes as appear to them to be necessary for trade within the Empire, and to make recommendations to the proper authority for the co-ordination and improvement of such facilities with regard to the type, size and speed of ships, depth of water in docks and channels, construction and harbour works, and similar matters; and in doing so to take into account facilities for air transport on the routes in question.

2. As regards the third part of the Question, Her Majesty's Government have not taken a specific decision not to refer the matter of freight rates to the Committee; this, as I explained in my reply to the hon. Member's Question on 14th July, is in accordance with their long-established policy.

3. As the terms of reference show, it is open to any interested Commonwealth Government at any time to ask the Committee to inquire into a question concerning ocean freight rates.