§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the petition to this House of the Liverpool Mercantile Marine Association, representing 9,000 commanders and officers of the mercantile marine, praying that the Order in Council of 30th January 1893, relative to the screening of ships' side-lights, shall be inquired into by this House; whether that petition has induced him to reconsider the decision to refer this matter to a Departmental Committee instead of to a Committee of this House; whether he can state the names of the gentlemen whom it is proposed to appoint on such a Departmental Committee, and how many of them have had actual experience at sea in the handling of ships: and, whether it is proposed that any of the representative bodies of seamen or shipowners shall be consulted with reference to the composition of such a Committee?
§ MR. BRYCE
I have seen a copy of a petition presented to Parliament by 1152 the Mercantile Marine Service Association, which is stated in the petition to comprise over 3,000—not 9,000—members and which is to the effect stated. I see no reason for altering the intention which I expressed on 5th February last to a deputation headed by the hon. Member for West Perthshire, that I should refer this matter, which is one of a highly technical nature, needing to be investigated by the aid of experiments, to a Departmental Committee consisting of experts. The names of the persons whom I have decided to appoint, and who have agreed to serve, are as follows: The hon. Baronet the Member for Belfast; the hon. Member for Southampton; Rear-Admiral H. G. Andoe, C.B.; Captain H. F. Hughes-Hallett, R.N.; Mr. T. H. Ismay; Mr. T. Scrutton; Captain Wilson Barker; Mr. James Bolam, Secretary of the Scottish Shipmasters' Association; Captain J. S. Castle; and Captain Anthony S. Thomson. It will probably be necessary to appoint an Admiralty lawyer. Six of these, gentlemen have had actual experience at sea in the handling of ships. I have taken the, best means in my power to secure a Committee which shall be both competent and impartial; and so far as I know, none of these I have selected are committed to an opinion on the subject. It would be impossible to consult all the bodies who might consider themselves entitled to express an opinion, and very difficult to make a selection, from them.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
How many Departmental Committees on the rule of the road at sea have there been since 1888 or 1889?