HC Deb 10 October 1939 vol 352 cc138-9
4. Mr. David Adams

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether all vessels of the Mercantile Marine are now controlled; what is the nature of this control and by what Department of State; and what, if any, vessels are requisitioned by the Government?

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

A system of control by licence is in operation under the Defence Regulations, 1939, and the Control of Trade by Sea Order, 1939, for all voyages of United Kingdom vessels, other than voyages coastwise in the United Kingdom or in the short sea trades with near-continental countries. The Board of Trade administer the control. The power to requisition vessels has so far been used almost exclusively to meet the requirements of the Fighting Services.

Mr. Shinwell

As regards the requisitioning of vessels, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what are the financial arrangements?

Mr. Stanley

If the hon. Member will put down a question I will do so.

5 and 6. Mr. Benjamin Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many vessels were acquired by the Government for the merchant ship reserve; how many have been re-sold; to whom; and on what terms;

(2) whether he can state the use to which vessels acquired in connection with the merchant ship reserve are being put?

Mr. Stanley

Four ships were acquired under the Merchant Ship Reserve Scheme and all of them remain in the ownership of the Board of Trade. Three are being employed in connection with the Defence Services and the fourth in the carriage of essential commodities to and from this country.

Mr. David Adams

Is it intended to increase the purchase of these vessels?

Mr. Stanley

With the outbreak of war and the new powers we have got this scheme has become absolete. If we require vessels now we get them by means of requisitioning.