HC Deb 03 August 1899 vol 75 cc1285-6
MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to state if the 210th Section of the Merchant Shipping Act, which deals with the accommodation of seamen on board ship, applies to Lascar and other native seamen in the same manner as it applies to seamen engaged on board British vessels registered in ports of the United Kingdom; and if he is now in the position to give the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown in accordance with the promise made some months ago.


Yes, Sir. The Board of Trade are now in possession of the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown with regard to the point to which the hon. Member refers. The opinion is to the effect that the Board have acted properly in declining to allow any deduction from tonnage in respect of Lascar crew space which is not in accordance with the requirements of Section 210 of the Merchant Shipping Act; further, that the question whether proceedings should be taken to enforce these requirements is one for the consideration of the Board of Trade under all the circumstances of the case, among which are the provisions of Section 25 of the Imperial Act of George IV., 4 c. 80 and the conflicting provisions of the Indian Merchant Shipping Acts. At the moment, I can only say that the matter in all its bearings shall receive very careful consideration, and that I have already placed myself in communication with the India Office with a view of securing, if possible, an assimilation of the Indian to the Imperial law on the subject.


May I call attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question? I want to know whether the Law Officers of the Crown advise that the company are breaking the law in not providing for Lascars the same accommodation as the British seamen.


Obviously I cannot give any further answer in the unavoidable absence of my right hon. friend.


I have been promised an answer to this question for over four months. I shall take an early opportunity to call attention to the matter unless I soon get one.