§ MR. J. H. WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that a seaman named Thomas Purvis was discharged from the British steamer "Straits of Dover" at Antwerp on the 7th of May, and claimed, under the 186th section of the Merchant Shipping Act, his passage and maintenance, money from Antwerp to Newport, the port of his engagement, and that Her Majesty's Consul instructed the captain of the vessel to pay Purvis 12s. 6d., which was only sufficient to defray hi a expenses to Harwich; whether he is in a position to state if any instructions have been given Her Majesty's Consul at the port of Antwerp that captains are complying with the 186th section in paying the men's fares to the nearest port in the United Kingdom; whether he is aware that in a case tried in the Court of Appeal, with reference to defraying cost of passage and maintenance money, the judge expressed his opinion that the seaman was entitled to have his passage money paid to the port where he was engaged, and also maintenance during time of travelling; and whether he intends to issue instructions to Her Majesty's Consuls advising them that seamen are entitled to have their fares paid to the port of engagement?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I have no information with regard to the case referred to in the Question except such as has been furnished to me by the honourable Member himself, but inquiry shall be made into the circumstances. No instructions in the sense suggested have been given to Her Majesty's Consul at Antwerp. In reply to the last two paragraphs of the Question, I regret to say that legal difficulties have arisen, but the whole matter is receiving the careful consideration of the Board of Trade with a view to definite instructions being issued to Consular Officers.