§ MR. JOYCE (Limerick)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state how many vessels engaged crews on monthly articles of agreement at the South Shields Mercantile Marine offices during the month of April, 1901; whether he can state if the provision scale embodied in the articles of agreement of the respective vessels is the scale which has been generally in use during the last fifty years; and whether he can state if there has been any decrease in the cost of provisions as compared with the cost of provisions fifty years ago; and, if so, to what extent.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Forty-nine steamers and four sailing ships signed full crews on monthly articles of agreement at the South Shields Mercantile Marine office during the month of April last. With one exception—in which a special mode was adopted—the usual provision scale was embodied in the articles of agreement in all these cases. With regard to certain small variations the usual scale is the same as that in use fifty years ago. I am not prepared to say to what extent the cost of provisions has decreased during the last fifty years, but I have no hesitation in saying that the decrease has been considerable.