15 JUNE 1929, Page 3

State Ownership of Ships When Mr. Hughes bought the ships

that formed the Commonwealth Line he had other motives besides the desire to put socialistic principles into practice. But State-ownership failed disastrously, and Mr. Bruce has cut the losses of about £12,000,000, and the ships are run by private enterprise. Ever since the Armistice the United States -Governments have been left with nation- owned ships on their hands. This was hardly likely to be popular in a country which is highly individualistic and devoted to private enterprise (and therefore has the highest paid wage-earners in the world), but there was hesitation about cutting the losses. Governments halted between direct operation of the ships, leasing them, and selling them, but the last of them are now sold and were handed over to private enterprise last week, and the colossal losses are ended. This week the accounts for last year of the Canadian Government's Fleet have been published here, showing a loss of over $7,500,000 and a total deficit of over £11,500,000 over ten years. Any Socialist Government therefore which is tempted to nationalize this form of transport has plenty of recent precedent, and can see the depths to which the primrose path of State-ownership will take them before someone has to find the way back up the painful slopes to sanity.