Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:56 pm on 19th November 1987.

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Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North 3:56 pm, 19th November 1987

Will the Leader of the House consider the possibility of a debate on the decline in the Merchant Navy? I understand that the number of ships flying the red ensign has now plummeted to the 300 mark. That was highlighted in south-west Scotland during the past few days when it was necessary to hire £6 million-worth of ships to conduct a military exercise. As it might not be possible to contact shipbroking companies in the event of a national crisis, might it not be a good idea to consider the strategic implications of the slaughter of the Merchant Navy, as well as its civil implications? I know that a Merchant Shipping Bill is due and I am interested in its timetabling, but as it has tragically failed to address the problem of the decline in the Merchant Navy, I believe that a major debate is also necessary.