§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the recent Government scheme, in connection with the light dues, for inducing British shipowners to carry British boys has failed; how many boys are carried under the Merchant Shipping (Mercantile Marine Fund) Act of 1898; whether the total number of boys entered in 1899 was the smallest on record and the proportion of foreigners the highest; and what remedy he proposes to adopt in place of the scheme in question for the state of things described by his predecessor.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
No, Sir, I cannot admit that the scheme referred to in the question, for inducing British shipowners to carry British boys on their ships, has failed. The scheme has been adopted by many shipping firms of the highest standing. It came into operation in April, 1899, and up to the 30th of last month 615 enrolments have taken place. There has, from the first, been a steady tendency to increase, which has become more marked during the last eight months. The proportion of foreigners employed in our mercantile marine in 1899 was slightly in access of that shown in any previous year, but this is probably due to causes outside the operation of the scheme. I hope that the measure of success that has attended this scheme will go on increasing as its advantages become more widely known. I have no proposal at present to submit to the House.