HC Deb 30 June 1904 vol 137 cc161-2
MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that Messrs. Houlder Brothers, shipowners, and owners of the ss. "Southern Cross," have employed a man named Bethel at Antwerp to engage and supply 35 sailors and firemen for the steamer "Southern Cross," which is at present lying in the port of the Tyne; and, if so, whether he can state the nationality of those seamen, if they, are able to speak the English language, and the wages these men are to receive per month; and whether, in view of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act with regard to the engagement and supply of crews to British ships by persons not licensed by the Board of Trade, he intends to take any action in the matter; and whether he is aware that there is a large number of sailors and firemen unemployed at the Tyne ports.


From the inquiries which I have caused to be made it appears that twenty-eight seamen were engaged at the Consulate General at Antwerp to serve on the "Southern Cross," but it is not clear that Bethel was concerned in the supply of the men. Of the twenty-eight men engaged I understand that six were Germans, one an Austrian, one belonged to the United States, three were Dutch, one Danish, two Swedish, two French, three Greek, seven Belgian, one Italian, and one Spanish. It is reported that they had a fair knowledge of English, and all but three produced certificates of discharge showing service in British vessels. The wages of the eight A.B's were £3 5s., a month, of the eighteen firemen £3 15s. and of the two deck boys £1 a month. Upon the information before me I doubt whether the engagement of the men at Antwerp constitutes an infringement of the provisions of Section 111 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, but the Board of Trade are being legally advised upon the point.


And could not sailors have been obtained at the port from whence the vessel sailed?


I have no reason to think they could not.