§ SIR T. RICHARDSON (Hartlepool)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, in consequence of the number of British ships sold to foreigners and the numerous British ships sailing under foreign flags, and the employment of foreign officers and seamen on ships owned by British subjects, great numbers of master mariners, officers, and seamen have been thrown out of employment; whether he is aware that great distress exists amongst such persons in seaport towns; whether the Government is prepared, with a view to alleviate such distress, to give facilities for the discussion of the Merchant Shipping Act (1894) Amendment Bill; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to same?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I am not aware that any exceptional distress or want of employment exists at the present moment among the officers and men of our Mercantile Marine, though the increasing number of foreigners employed in the merchant ships does, of course tend to restrict their opportunities of employment. I am not prepared to adopt the proposal contained in the Bill to which the honourable Member refers which would mean a reversion to the policy of the Navigation Laws.