HC Deb 13 July 1903 vol 125 cc390-1

To ask the Secretary to the Board of Trade whether steamers are allowed to run along the coasts of the United Kingdom without any certificated officers on board, with the result that, in the event of collisions occurring leading to loss of life, the Board of Trade have no power of dealing with such officers; also, if there is any intention of applying a remedy for the loss of life and property arising from the carelessness of unqualified masters and mates in coasting vessels.

(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) The provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act as to carrying certificated officers on board British ships apply only to foreign-going ships and to home trade passenger ships. British vessels not belonging to those classes of ships are not required by law to carry certificated officers. It is, however, possible for a Court holding a formal investigation into a casualty to any British vessel to punish the officers involved by ordering them to pay the costs of the investigation. The question of legislating referred to by the hon. Member is a matter that would require consideration, and I am not at present prepared to express an opinion upon it.