asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal for a Forth and Clyde ship canal; whether he is aware that if the Government will sanction the scheme it will not involve the Treasury in any financial outlay at present, as there are firms who are prepared to finance the scheme until the completion of the work; and whether, in view of the necessity for opening up every possible avenue of employment and of the fact that the canal would be a profitable asset to the nation, he will consider the possibility of sanctioning the commencement of the scheme without delay?
I have been asked to reply to this question. As stated in my reply to the hon. Member for the Dunfermline Burghs on the 27th October, the proposal mentioned has been considered with reference to the question of unmployment, but the scheme is not one which can be undertaken by the Government at the present time. I am not aware that any firms are prepared to finance the scheme during construction, but even if such were the case, these firms would require to be fully recouped and the financial position of the Government would be practically the same as if it had borrowed the necessary money in ordinary course. With regard to the suggestion that such a canal would be profitable, I would refer my hon. Friend to my previous reply.