§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the circumstances connected with the discharge at Calcutta of the crew of the steamship Osborn, owned by Messrs. Raeburn and Verrel, of Glasgow; whether he is aware that the said crew signed articles of agreement for twelve months, to terminate in a port in the United Kingdom or Continent at the end of that period, but that the 1028 articles expired at Calcutta; that the owners refused to pay the crew the cost of their passage home to the United Kingdom, and for their wages to continue until their arrival home; that, although the crew left the vessel on the 22nd December, 1896, they were not able to reach the United Kingdom until the 7th March, 1897; that the owners refused to pay the men any part of the wages due to them; and that, in consequence of the owners residing in Glasgow, the men have been compelled to obtain funds, and proceed to Glasgow to prosecute their claims; and whether, having regard to the serious inconvenience and loss to which all British seamen are subject under such circumstances, he will bring in a Bill to so amend the law as to permit seamen to make their claims for wages, passage money, or cost of maintenance in any port in the United Kingdom where they may arrive?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
My attention has been called to the case of the Osborn to which the hon. Member refers, and I have been in communication with the owners and with their representatives in London. I am informed that the owners do not admit the accuracy of the facts as stated in the Question; and, as the case will, I understand, form the subject of legal proceedings, it would not be right for me to make any statement with regard to it at the present moment. I may mention, however, that I am informed on behalf of the owners that they offered to consent to the case being disposed of in London.