asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that in the last year 65 new vessels, amounting in all to over 24,000 tons gross tonnage, were built in Holland for British owners and that the shipyards of Great Britain are better qualified than those of any other country to build vessels of all sizes, he will consider stimulating the building of ships in this country either by making Government credit available for this purpose or by some other form of Government assistance calculated to provide work for shipbuilding yards all over Britain which are now, or will soon be, short of work?
I have already assured the hon. Member that the position of the shipbuilding industry is engaging my close attention. I cannot, at present, make any further statement on the subject.
In view of the rapid deterioration of the employment position in practically all these shipbuilding yards, can the right hon. Gentleman say when he expects to be able to give us some information?
I have already told the House that it is very difficult to deal with the question of shipbuilding apart from the question of the shipping industry as a whole. I am now awaiting a report from the shipping industry, and I hope to get it fairly soon.
I have no official information regarding shipbuilding orders placed abroad, but, according to information contained in the Press, 25 ships of 123,000 gross tons are shown as being built in foreign yards for British owners, of which eight ships of 56,000 gross tons are shown as being built in German yards.