§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the statement made by the crew of the s.s. Pinner's Point, in which they allege that during the passage of this vessel from the United Kingdom to the United States of America, in the month of May of this year, all the deck hands of this vessel, with the exception of the man at the wheel, were employed in discharging ballast from six in the morning till six in the evening; whether he is aware that during the night this vessel was being navigated without a man on the look out, on the forecastle head or fore-deck; and, whether, in view of the number of collisions that occur annually, involving serious loss of life and property, it is his intention to promote legislation at an early date with a view to preventing the possibility of vessels being navigated in such a dangerous manner.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. RITCHIE, Croydon)
My attention has not been directed to the statement referred to in the question, except by the hon. Member himself. Although the matter is not one in which the Board of Trade have any authority to interfere with the discretion of the master of a ship, unless he commits some offence under the Merchant Shipping Act, I have been in communication with the owners of the Pinner"s Point, and I have been furnished with a statement signed by the master and chief officer, in which they emphatically deny that the vessel was ever left without a proper look-out, day or night, and this statement is confirmed by the boatswain and two A.B.'s. The master and chief officer also state that the ballast was not discharged until the steamer was approaching the American coast, and that for this work 896 the men received extra pay. I am not prepared to propose fresh legislation on the subject.