§ 78. Major HUNT
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the foreign owners of a merchant ship built or building by our starred labour have offered or are now offering to sell this ship to a British subject at a very large profit; and, if so, what steps the Government propose to take to prevent our starred labour from being used in this way to make profits for other countries?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
The contracts for some of the vessels building for neutral owners have been offered to British firms, but no sale has yet been effected. Present values are high, and it would not be possible or desirable to use the Government power of control to depress prices in favour of any particular firm.
§ Major HUNT
Why does the right hon. Gentleman, with the Government contract to take them over in force, allow these neutral owners to make large profits?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not propose to argue the question, but that is not the way the Government has been treating these vessels. As has been frequently explained, the Government takes them and gets the benefit out of them, and it is not going to hand them over to particular firms.