§ MR. PIRIE
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the vessel "Grove Hill," of Hull, was lately detained at Leith for a week, in order that the Plimsoll mark might be painted on her side; that the local Board of Trade surveyor could have himself done the work immediately; that the 591 delay arose from his having to send his report up to London for ratification; and that great inconvenience and expense is entailed generally on vessels in Scottish ports from such centralisation; whether, in such simple cases, the local authorities could be authorised to act on their own responsibility, or would he consider the expediency of appointing a central Scottish authority with the necessary powers, so that the shipping and commercial interests of Scotland may be placed on an equality with those of England in this and other matters relating to the Board of Trade; and whether the Board will make good the loss sustained by both the owners of the vessels and the shippers concerned in the above case.
MR. LONG (for Mr. RITCHIE)
Inquiry has been made in the case to which the hon. Member refers, and I am informed that any delay that may have arisen was because the first application for a freeboard stated that the "Grove Hill" was a classed ship, whereas, it appears, she was not, and because docking and repairs were necessary. The vessel was not placed in dock for examination until the 12th instant, and, as the agent was informed of the freeboard on the 14th, there does not appear to be any valid ground for complaint. There are principal officers of the Board of Trade at Leith and Glasgow fully empowered to deal with simple cases, but any change in the arrangement by which freeboards are only assigned by the central authority in London is to be deprecated. The answer to the final paragraph of the question is in the negative.