§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is yet in a position 156 to say whether it will be possible to take proceedings under the existing law against the British ship which went recently to Antwerp to ship a crew of six Germans, three Dutchmen, seven Belgians, three Greeks, two Swedes, two Frenchmen, a Dane, an Austrian, an Italian, and a Spaniard; and, in the contrary case, having regard to the representations of the Sailors' and Firemens' Union as to the numbers of British sailors out of employment, and to the recent observations of officers of the Royal Navy as to the danger of manning British ships with aliens, if he will accept such an Amendment to the Merchant Shipping Bill as will prevent foreign crews being obtained for British ships at any port between the Elbe and Brest.
(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) I am advised that the supply of the seamen engaged at Antwerp in the case to which my hon. and gallant friend refers did not constitute an offence under Section 111 of The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and proceedings under that section are therefore impracticable. Administrative action will, however, be taken to provide against the occurrence of a similar case in future. I cannot adopt the suggestion that the Merchant Shipping Bill should be so amended as to prevent foreign crews being obtained for British ships at any port between the Elbe and Brest. The Bill is intended to give effect to certain specific recommendations made by a Committee which reported recently, and I deprecate the addition of proposals for legislation not included in the Report of that Committee.