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British Steamship Contracts Abroad

Volume 52: debated on Thursday 24 April 1913

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that orders for three large passenger and cargo steamers have been given to a French company at Dunkirk; that this contract has been placed in France because the total cost will be less than that of building in this country, notwithstanding the fact that rough castings of the machinery are being sent from this country and paying the French import duties; whether this loss of employment to the British workmen is due to the continual burdens cast upon employers in this country by recent legislation; and, if so, what steps the Government propose to take to keep British contracts for British workmen?

I have seen statements in the Press relative to this matter, and I note that the difficulty of securing early delivery is stated to have been one of the reasons for the contract being placed outside the United Kingdom. As the quantity of work in hand in British shipbuilding yards at the end of March was greater than has ever before been recorded in Lloyd's quarterly returns, there does not appear any occasion for concern.

Does the right hon. Gentleman allow that the burdens cast upon the manufacturers of this country have anything to do with this transfer of contracts?