Shipbuilding Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1948.

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Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston 12:00 am, 20th January 1948

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what agreement has been reached with the United States of America, or is contemplated, whereby this country will concentrate on the building of tankers at the expense of passenger and merchant vessels.

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Central

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he proposes to reduce the estimated total of British shipbuilding put forward under the Marshall Plan Report; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

Until the United States Congress has completed its consideration of the proposed measures to aid European recovery, discussion with the United States Administration of any of the proposals before the Congress would be inappropriate. Consequently no agreement has been reached or is at present contemplated in regard to the building of tankers at the expense of other types of ship. In fact, however, tankers represent an increasing proportion of the new tonnage to be laid down. Since the figures in the Paris Report were prepared last summer, some adjustment has had to be made in the estimate of United Kingdom shipbuilding output owing to the increasing shortage of materials.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a wide spread feeling that the 20 per cent. cut in the allocation of steel to the shipbuilding industry is an attempt to meet by different means the end which is indicated in the Question?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The two things are unconnected.

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Central

Would not the Chancellor agree that shipbuilding is just as large a foreign currency producer as any of the commercial activities of this country?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

Yes, Sir; it not only produces, but saves foreign currency.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is not the Chancellor aware that this effort of America, which is being made following his decision to cut the steel supply, will cause a very large amount of unemployment in the ship-building industry, which is one of the most important industries of this country?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The action of the Government has no connection whatever with the actions of the American Government.