HC Deb 09 March 1877 vol 232 cc1648-9

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a paragraph in the "Daily Telegraph" of the 6th, where it is stated that six men have been sent to Bodmin Gaol for several weeks with hard labour for refusing to go to sea in the "Glenafton," they had come from Glasgow in; if he has taken any steps to have the case investigated with the view of seeing if the allegations of the men were true that they had endured great hardships on their voyage from Glasgow to Falmouth, such as not having their clothes off, and their being employed constantly at the pumps; and, considering now that the vessel is detained for the necessary repairs ordered by the surveyors, will he, under the circumstances, order their release and compensation for their committal?


So far, Sir, as the action of the justices is concerned, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has sent for information, but it has not yet arrived; but I can state with regard to the ship, that the principal surveyor of the district has reported to the Board of Trade that there was nothing in the condition of the ship that authorized him to detain her. There was only defective caulking, owing to the severe weather, but it was easily to be remedied. There was no such thing as a leak, and there was no reason for detaining the ship. The Act of 1871 enables seamen charged with desertion to plead the unseaworthiness of the ship. I presume that the justices in this case considered the allegation groundless, otherwise they would have sent for the Board of Trade Surveyor, which they did not do. The Act of 1873 renders the owner and master of the ship liable for compensation from the date that the ship is detained, if she is afterwards proved to be unseaworthy.