asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will seek to accelerate the consultants' study into the causes of the decline in Britain's merchant fleet; and if he will publish their results as soon as they are available.
I have not engaged consultants to study the causes of the decline of Britain's merchant fleet. I expect to receive later this month the report of the consultants I have engaged to forecast the future availability of merchant shipping to meet defence needs. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I will then examine the consultants' findings against foreseen future defence needs. That examination will take some time. It would not be appropriate to make any report until it has been completed.