§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that it is becoming a common practice in mercantile marine offices to permit men to sign on as able seamen without demanding such proof of actual previous sea service as is specifically required by Section 126, Sub-sections 1 and 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894; and that, upon seamen being unable to produce the necessary proof, it is the practice of mercantile marine officials to write the letters "N.P." (not proven) on the ship's articles of agreement opposite the man's name, and allow the man to be rated "A.B." as though he had proved his title to be so rated; and whether he will issue such instructions to mercantile marine officers as will insure the due observance of the law as set forth in Section 126, Sub-sections 1 and 2 of The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
The superintendents of Mercantile Marine Offices are instructed, before entering a seaman as an "A.B." in any agreement, to ask for proof of his qualification to be so rated; and the Board of Trade have no reason to think that they 408 neglect this duty. If proof is not given the letters "N.P." are placed against the seaman's name, but the Board of Trade are advised that they have no power to decline to allow a man to be shipped as "A.B." because he cannot prove the requisite service.