HC Deb 14 March 1899 vol 68 cc780-1
SIR E. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any ship-owning firms have availed themselves of clause 6 of the Merchant Shipping (Mercantile Marine Fund) Act of 1898, for the employment of apprentices for the Naval Reserves; if not, whether it is the intention of the Board of Trade to ask the Treasury to concur in the adoption of a scale of allowance sufficient to indemnify ship owners from pecuniary loss who may agree to engage apprentices in accordance with the Act; and whether he can state the nature of the regulations intended to be issued regarding their housing and education?


The Act to which the honourable Member refers does not come into operation until the 1st April next, and some time must necessarily elapse before it can be known to what extent ship owners will avail themselves of the provisions of section 6. The scale and regulations which the Board of Trade are empowered to make will be issued at once, and I hope that the scheme may lead to a considerable increase in the number of British boy sailors in our Merchant Navy. The honourable Gentleman's Question implies that the object of the Government is to secure apprentices for the Royal Naval Reserve. This is a misapprehension. The main object of the scheme is to secure an increased supply of British seamen for the Mercantile Marine. I do not think it is incumbent on the Government to indemnify shipowners for present pecuniary loss (if any) which they may sustain in carrying out a scheme which will be for their future advantage.