Flags of Convenience

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland 12:00 am, 27th April 1967

asked the Prime Minister what steps he proposes to take to restrict or control the use of flags of convenience by ships trading with the United Kingdom; and if he will place in the Library a copy of his public statement made on 29th March on this subject.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We have no immediate proposals on this issue, Sir. But Her Majesty's Government have consistently maintained that there should be a genuine link between a ship and her country of registry. As to the second part of the right hen. Gentleman's Question, I was answering questions at a Press Conference without a prepared text and the right hon. Gentleman must therefore rely on newspaper accounts of my remarks.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

Has the Prime Minister any evidence that the accident to the "Torrey Canyon" was due to the fact that it was sailing under a flag of convenience, or was alleged to have been? Will this matter be investigated in whatever inquiries are made into this unfortunate wreck?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We must await the report of the inquiry which has been conducted by the Liberian Government while still reserving our position as to whether a further inquiry is necessary under our own auspices. That will be the time to consider those questions.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

As to compensation, does my right hon. Friend realise—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. It is the next Question which deals with compensation.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Has the Prime Minister's attention been drawn to the allegation that the British flag has been used as a flag of convenience by foreigners trading with North Vietnam?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think that that point arose in Questions yesterday.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

If, as appears from newspaper reports, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that there is some connection between flags of convenience and the "Torrey Canyon" affair, will he make sure that this evidence is made available to any inquiries which take place?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

This was in the course of a long Press conference, and I was very much pressed on this question. I said what I felt. Many people in the past, not least our own seamen's union, have often made the point about flags of convenience to us. I thought it right to say this. I have no evidence—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have no evidence as yet as to the exact mistake made in navigation, or whether that was related to its being a flag of convenience ship.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

Whatever the flag, is not the bombing of ships in Haiphong harbour a most dangerous escalation of the war and—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. This is ingenious, but the Question is about flags of convenience.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

On a point of order. The ship which was bombed in Haiphong harbour was carrying the British flag. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) suggested that that was an abuse of the British flag. I was asking whether, whatever the flag, the bombing of ships in Haiphong Harbour was a dangerous escalation of the war in Vietnam.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I fully understood the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question and made the comment which I thought right.