Merchant Fleets

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th November 1979.

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Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh 12:00 am, 19th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what measures he is taking inside and outside the European Community to persuade the Governments of maritime nations to enter into a general agreement not to give special advantages to their own merchant fleets.

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Waltham Forest Chingford

It would not be practicable to aim for a general agreement on all forms of special advantage. Individual Government measures are discussed within the EEC and in wider international fora. In such discussions, the United Kingdom's consistent aim is to maintain a freely competitive environment for as much as possible of world shipping.

Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh

Does not my hon. Friend agree that an open seas policy, which is clearly in the best interests of the consumers of the world, is very much at prejudice at present in view of the number of Governments who, as my question points out, are giving "special advantages" to their merchant marines? There can come a point when those merchant marines which play dead straight on a competitive policy will increasingly be put at a disadvantage.

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Waltham Forest Chingford

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why it is our purpose not to try to up the ante in these matters but to persuade other countries, through every international organisation and every bilateral contact, that we have, that it is in no one's interest continually to subsidise shipping.