HC Deb 01 March 1875 vol 222 cc993-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If it is the fact that foreigners who are not naturalized as British subjects have been permitted to pass the Board of Trade Examination for masters, for mates, and for engineers in the Mercantile Marine of this Country, upon certificates of service in foreign ships, in contravention of the Merchant Shipping Acts which especially define the amount of service in the various grades in which the applicant must have served on board British ships before he can claim to be examined; if it is the fact that the Board of Trade is not in a position to verify the certificates of such applicants; if it is the fact that these certificated foreigners, owing allegiance to foreign states, are now serving as masters in command of British merchant ships, as mates in British merchant ships, and as engineers in British merchant ships, in considerable numbers, exercising authority under the Union Jack; and, if it is the fact that any of the above-named foreigners have been permitted to change their names and have had commissions in the Royal Naval Reserve conferred upon them?


It is true, Sir, that foreigners not naturalized have been certificated as masters, mates, and engineers in the Mercantile Marine, and some on certificates of foreign service, chiefly Swedes and Danes. It is not true that this is in contravention of the Merchant Shipping Acts. The Board of Trade, by the Act of 1854, lay down rules for the qualification for certificated officers. The hon. Member for Graves-end probably has confused this with Section 135, which provides for certificates of service existing before the Act. This service must have been passed on board a British ship. No nationality is defined either in the competency or service examination. It is not the fact that the Board of Trade is not in a position to verify certificates of foreigners who pass their examination. The regulation requires testimonials which cannot be verified by the Registrar General to be verified by the Consul of the country or some recognized official authority. It is a fact that commissions in the Royal Naval Reserve have been granted to two officers of foreign birth. One became naturalized and changed his name. Another, a Swiss, had always sailed in British ships and his domicile was in England. Henry Count Bathyani is an honorary lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve.