§ 11. Miss Wilkinson
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the shortage of shipping and the authoritative statements recently made that coal orders available abroad cannot be filled because of the shortage of tonnage, he will cause inquiry to be made into the activities of National Shipbuilders Security, Limited, with a view to the removal of the ban they have placed on certain yards?
The question of the sufficiency of shipbuilding capacity is kept under constant review and is discussed from time to time with National Shipbuilders Security, Limited. I understand that at present, in spite of the improved conditions, the work obtainable is sufficient to occupy only 65 per cent. of the available capacity.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Is that not partly due to the fact that certain smaller and inefficient yards are out of action? Is it not a fact that the more efficient and larger yards are already absolutely full, and cannot take any more?
We are watching the position closely, but I think it is a fact that there is still available capacity.
§ Miss Wilkinson
In view of the fact that this index figure is rising, surely we ought now to be taking some regard to the future with a view to removing the ban?
I am glad to say that the figures are rising. The last time this question was asked, the figure was 55 per cent. instead of 65 per cent. now. We are keeping an eye upon the position.
§ Mr. Macquisten
Is it not the case that some of the yards closed down were big yards like Beardmore, and that they were closed down owing to voluntary co-operation among the shipowners themselves? Would it not be a very improper thing to interfere with these contracts freely arrived at among the shipowners themselves?