British Ships (Repairs Abroad)

Oral Answers to Questions — Shipping – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th February 1964.

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Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central 12:00 am, 12th February 1964

asked the Minister of Transport what is the tonnage of British oil tankers and dry cargo vessels now being repaired in foreign shipyards.

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

No official records are kept of the extent to which British ships are repaired abroad.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

Is it beyond the capacity of the Minister to find out what British tonnage is being repaired abroad and what number of men are displaced in this country because ships are repaired abroad and the amount of money paid in unemployment benefit to those men? Will he examine the position again?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

I do not think it would be right to restrict British ship owners to British repair yards, because foreign Governments might then restrict repair of their ships to their yards. In 1962 over £8 million was spent by foreign ship owners on repairs done here and this was 13½ per cent. of the total value of work done by ship repairers in this country. It would not be in their interests to follow this suggestion.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

Would it not find employment in a large number of British ship-repair yards for men who are now unemployed?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

The point is that if we did this and put restrictions on other countries, they might retaliate and we might lose.

Photo of Mr Stanley McMaster Mr Stanley McMaster , Belfast East

In view of the value to British shipbuilding yards of repair work, will my right hon. Friend consider extending credit terms, in the same way as for shipbuilding, for the repair of British ships in British yards?

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

Will my right hon. Friend remember that there is great preference on the part of British ship owners to get their ships repaired in this country, but obviously if a ship breaks down at the other end of the world it cannot he brought home for repair?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

I quite agree. There was a recent case of a tanker owned by B.P. which broke down in the Indian Ocean and it could not possibly be brought back to this country for repair.