HC Deb 03 March 1925 vol 181 cc207-8

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has now received a copy of the Report upon Atlantic shipping rates, prepared at the instance of the Canadian Government, and which, inter alia, alleges discrimination by the Atlantic Shipping Conference of Shipowners against British ports in certain cases; if he is aware that the freight for settlers' effects from London to Montreal is 55s. per ton of 40 cubic feet, whereas the freight for settlers' effects from Antwerp to Montreal is only 355. per ton; and what action he is prepared to take to prevent freight rates being artificially raised?


I have seen a copy of the Report to which the hon. Member refers, and I understand that the whole question of freight rates to Canada will shortly be investigated by a special Parliamentary Committee in Canada. I have not been able to find any confirmation of the difference in rates referred to in the question.


Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that His Majesty's Government will co-operate with the Canadian Government in promoting inter-Imperial trade and in breaking the power of this combine?


It is always the intention of the Government to develop inter-Imperial trade, but I should deprecate statements which are not susceptible of proof.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that according to the information contained in the Report which has been quoted from the claim is made that the British Government should institute an inquiry in this country as to their charges or otherwise?


As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have already informed the Canadian Government that if an investigation is desired before the Imperial Shipping Committee we should be only too glad to facilitate such an inquiry in every way in our power.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that on page 25 of the Report, which I hold in my hand, there is detailed evidence of discrimination against British exporters to say nothing of Canadian exporters, and, under these circumstances will the right hon. Gentleman institute inquiries on his own behalf into these allegations?


The hon. Member put a question to me and I made inquiries, and I stated in my answer that, as a result of the inquiries I have been able to make, I cannot find any confirmation of the statement that there are such discriminating rates on this side. [HON. MEMI3ERS: "Oh, Oh:"] Perhaps hon. Members will give me credit for having made inquiries and for having given, quite honestly, the information I have been able to obtain.