HC Deb 09 May 1904 vol 134 cc744-5
MR. LODER (Brighton)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken, or proposes to take, to carry out the recommendations of the Committee appointed last year to inquire into certain questions affecting the mercantile marine.

(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) A Bill to give effect to the first four recommendations of the Committee to which my hon. friend refers has been introduced in another place. The Bill proposes to require sea cooks to be certificated in certain cases, to extend the present system of inspection of ship's provisions, to ensure some knowledge of the English language on the part of seamen engaged in the United Kingdom, and to provide a deterrent for the offence of failure to join a vessel after signing articles. Other recommendations of the Committee shown on page xi. of the Report, Cd. Paper 1607, have been dealt with as follows:—The recommendation in favour of efforts being made to increase the number of merchant seamen who are members of the Royal Naval Reserve has been brought to the notice of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, Departmental action has been taken to give to seaman who feel unjustly treated, when they receive an adverse character report on discharge, a right of appeal to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office where they are paid off. My right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has made regulations facilitating the neutralisation of foreign seamen who have served an adequate time (five years, including residence in the United Kingdom) on British ships, provided that they intend to continue to serve or to reside in the United Kingdom. Steps have been taken to facilitate and encourage the adoption of the provision scale recommended by the Committee. This recommendation, together with those in favour of comfortable living quarters for seamen on board ship, and the training of boys with the object of increasing the number of British seamen, has been commended to the leading associations of shipowners. The desirability of officers possessing a knowledge of the elements of medicine and surgery (Recommendation No. 8) was brought to the notice of the chief Associations of Owners and Officers.