§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Seamen's and Firemen's Union calculates that some 2,000 British and Irish sailors are now out of a berth in the United Kingdom, while in the last six months no less than 6,407 alien sailors arrived to ship on British boats; and if he can state how many of them were acquainted with the English language and the Merchant Shipping Regulations of the Board of Trade.
(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) I have no knowledge of the estimate attributed to the Seamen's and Firemen's Union, and I do not know on what materials it is based. Monthly returns published in the Labour Gazette indicate that the number of British seamen engaged at the chief ports of the United Kingdom in the first half of the present year has largely exceeded those in the corresponding period of any of the four preceding years. The number of alien seamen arriving in this country, as stated in the Question, includes sailors arriving to ship in foreign as well as in British vessels. The number of these is unknown, but is probably a considerable proportion of the whole. The Answer to the last part of the Question is in the negative.