asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport why licences granted to private British owners for the construction of cargo steamers have, in several instances and, in particular, in those of cargo motor ships, been withdrawn and reallocated by the Ministry while still on the stocks to certain Allied Governments; and whether many of the ships now being built in British yards, especially motor ships, have already been marked for Allied ownership?
My hon. Friend is mistaken in thinking that any licences have been withdrawn. Certain ships are being built for the account of His Majesty's Government, but no ship now under construction in British yards has yet been earmarked for Allied ownership. A White Paper which explained the scheme for allocating to Allied Governments a certain proportion of the ships delivered during 1941 and 1942 was laid before the House in July last (in Command Paper 6373).
Is it not true to say that in the allocation to which my hon. Friend has referred, which occurred some time ago, some of the best vessels, particularly the motor vessels, instead of being allocated to British owners were allocated to Allied owners? Is not that likely to prove injurious to our interests at the end of the war?
Perhaps my hon. Friend will send me details of any cases he has in mind. I am sure he would agree, as the House would, that justice should be done to our Allies, whose ships are constantly sailing the seas and who have rendered great service and suffered great losses.