HC Deb 23 February 1897 vol 46 cc970-2
MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, is he aware that it is alleged by the Liverpool Steam Ship Owners' Association, in their Annual Report for 1896, that vessels that have been transferred from the British to a foreign flag are sailed in and out of British ports loaded more deeply than they could have been loaded under the British flag; and what steps do the Board of Trade propose to take with a view of securing to British shipping the right to compete on equal terms with foreign shipping in the ports of the United Kingdom?


I have seen the allegations to which my hon. Friend refers. Every effort is made by the Board of Trade to secure equal treatment under the law for British and foreign ships in the matter of loading at ports in the United Kingdom. In 1896 40 foreign ships were detained in our ports for overloading, as against 11 British, and, for bringing in deck loads in contravention of the law, 7 foreign ships were proceeded against as compared with only 1 British. I will cause every case which is brought under my notice to be carefully considered; but I am advised that the present law is not inadequate so far as overloading of foreign ships leaving our ports is concerned.

MR. WARE (Liverpool, East Toxteth)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware that, as stated by the Liverpool Steam Ship Owners' Association, in their Annual Report for 1896, a foreign vessel embarking only cabin passengers in this country is exempt from all the regulations applicable to British emigrant vessels, even although such foreign vessel may be carrying emigrants on the voyage upon which such cabin passengers are carried; (2) whether the German Emigrant Regulations permit of 30 per cent. more emigrants being carried with 40 per cent. less boat accommodation than is permitted by the British Regulations; and (3) whether the Board of Trade are prepared to take such steps, so far as British ports are concerned, as will enable British shipowners to compete on equal terms with foreign shipowners using such ports, and to enforce on foreign vessels such Regulations as are deemed necessary according to the British Regulations to insure the safety of the passengers carried from this country?


I am aware of the statements in the Report to which my hon. Friend refers, and I am advised that the effect of the law is as stated in his Question. I have no authentic information with regard to the present German Emigrant Regulations as compared with our own. The Board of Trade have no power under the existing law to interfere with a foreign emigrant ship unless she takes emigrants from a port in the United Kingdom, and as at present advised, I am not prepared to propose an alteration of the law on the subject. With reference to the last Question put to me by my hon. Friend, I have to say that I see great difficulty in applying to the ships of foreign nations without their consent the Regulations which we consider in this country to be desirable in the interests of safety.