HC Deb 06 August 1896 vol 43 cc1681-4

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether, seeing that the transmission system for the payment of seamen's wages, originated by Captain Pitman, has proved a success at Dunkirk, will he arrange with him to establish the system at the other Home Foreign Ports between Havre and Hamburg; whether, seeing that the shipowners alone benefit by the discharge of their crews abroad, he will arrange with the Foreign Office that the Consuls shall be instructed to levy the charges for transmission upon the ships rather than upon the seamen; and whether he is aware that seamen arriving at Antwerp in British ships are discharged there, because owners can reengage their crews at a cheaper rate than in the United Kingdom?

COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)

asked whether the discharge of seamen at Antwerp was not in accordance with agreements as approved by the Board of Trade, concerning the procedure to be adopted with seamen at the final arrival port of the voyage; whether, when, discharged abroad the expenses of sending the seamen to their homes are not defrayed by the master of the vessel on account of the owners?


I am in communication with the Treasury and Foreign Office with regard to the extension of the transmission system originated by the Board of Trade at Dunkirk to other foreign ports, but no definite decision has yet been arrived at. I am not prepared to express an opinion why shipowners discharge their crews at Antwerp; and, with regard to the charges for transmission, I can only say that I have appointed a Committee to consider the whole subject of the conditions under which seamen are engaged and discharged at home trade ports abroad. My hon. Friend, I think, has correctly stated the conditions under which the discharge takes place, but the whole question will be taken into consideration by the Committee I have appointed.

MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not the fact that the 186th Section of the Merchant Shipping Act provides that the owner shall defray the expenses of a seaman discharged in a foreign port to his home in the United Kingdom, or to the port of engagement; and whether the Board of Trade are insisting upon that section of the Act being carried out.


I do not think the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that it is to the port of engagement. To a home port certainly, and there is a question as to what the actual meaning of that word is. But I am always very glad indeed to take means for insisting upon carrying out the clause of the Merchant Shipping Act to which the hon. Gentleman refers, when a breach of it is brought to my notice.


Is it not a fact that the attention of the Board of Trade has frequently been drawn to breaches of the section?