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Shipbuilding (Credit Facilities)

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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asked the Minister of Transport what evidence he has of the credit terms being offered by shipbuilders overseas as a result of which British shipbuilders are losing orders.

For export orders foreign shipbuilders are frequently offering credit for seven years after delivery, and sometimes for longer periods, covering 50 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the cost of the ship. The improved facilities from the Export Credits Guarantee Department are helping British shipbuilders to offer comparable terms for export orders. But no case has so far come to our notice of a British shipowner placing an order abroad simply because of credit terms, but I hope the investigation which Messrs. Peat, Marwick, Mitchell are carrying out will throw more light on the subject.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that there was no evidence that British ship owners are buying vessels abroad because of the credit terms offered by foreign shipbuilders, but is there any evidence that foreign shipbuilders are offering terms to foreign ship owners which are causing British shipbuilders to lose business with foreign ship owners?

Certainly, the credit terms are easier in many of the Continental yards with their own owners than they are here. I am not quite sure that I follow the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

I asked whether British shipbuilders are losing orders to foreign ship owners because of the credit terms being offered by foreign shipbuilding yards.

That is one of the things about which we hope to obtain more definite information from the present inquiry.