§ Mr. MacDonald
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans Her Majesty's Government have to arrest the annual decline in the registered tonnage of the British merchant fleet.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
The Government's interest is twofold: first, to ensure adequate merchant shipping resources to meet the country's need in emergency or war. Plans for this include new measures aimed at encouraging the retention of British seafarers on British-owned vessels.
Second, to help the competitive position of the United Kingdom merchant shipping fleet, a number of important initiatives have been taken at the level of the EEC and on a wider international basis, aimed at providing improved access to trading opportunities.