asked the President of the Board of Trade if any financial assistance is given by the German and Italian Governments to the shipbuilding industry; and whether those industries have any advantages or facilities over the shipbuilding industry in this country which have been conferred by State action?
In Germany to a small extent, and in Italy on a considerable scale, assistance is given by the Government to the shipbuilding industry. No similar assistance is given in this country. I am sending my hon. Friend a note giving some details of the assistance afforded by the German and Italian Governments.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any scheme in contemplation to assist this industry, and will he consider, in cases where a definite order can be assured in a shipyard, giving some assistance for a limited period and with complete safeguards?
It is impossible to give a proper reply in answer to such a supplementary question, because, as was indicated, no State assistance either in cash or credit, can be given to shipbuilding in view of the enormous amount of tonnage lying idle. That might not preclude assistance to a very special class of vessel, such as ice-breakers, or something of that kind.