§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
I beg to ask the President 1462 of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that British liners are not allowed to charge less than £10 for first class passengers to America; can he say whether this condition has been enforced on all British liners, and on what it is based; is he aware that boat accommodation for emigrants has to be carried, not according to the number, but according to the tonnage of the steamer, so that it is possible under this regulation for the Board of Trade to compel shipowners who may never have more than 200 emigrants on board of a vessel of a certain gross tonnage to carry boats for 2,000; and whether he will consider the advisability of removing these and similar restrictions which shipowners now have to contend with.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
There is nothing to prevent a shipowner charging what he pleases for first class passengers from this country to America, but if he charges less than a certain amount the passengers become entitled to special protection under the Merchant Shipping Act. This is based on the requirements of Sections 268 and 269, and is enforced on all vessels coming under their provisions. Boat accommodation for emigrants is fixed in accordance with a statutory scale and rules which embody the recommendations of the late Mr. Ismay's Life Saving Appliances Committee. Under these rules no emigrant ship is required to carry more boats than will accommodate all persons on board. I am aware that some of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act with regard to emigrants are more or less obsolete; but the Board of Trade have considerable discretionary powers in the matter, and I am always ready to consider any grievance that may arise, with a view to its removal if possible. But I am not prepared to propose any amendment of the law at the present moment.