HC Deb 11 December 1906 vol 167 cc112-3
MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether he is aware of the discontent existing amongst the British seamen at the port of Hamburg owing to the fact that certain shipping masters, who are recognised by His Majesty's Consul at that port, refuse to give employment to British seamen on British vessels requiring men; whether he is aware that the whole supplying of seamen to British ships is in the hands of the so-called shipping masters, and that those shipping masters refuse to accept Britishers because they object to paying shipping fees to obtain berths; and whether he will make inquiries with regard to this matter.

(Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) Complaints have reached the Board of Trade that British seamen at Hamburg have found difficulty in obtaining employment on British vessels there, and I am aware that the difficulty has been attributed to the action of the local shipping masters. The shipping masters are in no way connected with or under the control of His Majesty's Consul-General at Hamburg, who, I am assured, gives British seamen every assistance in his power to secure engagement, and I would point out that the selection of a crew rests with the master of the ship. I hope that the provisions of Clause 13 of the Merchant Shipping Bill now before Parliament, which prohibits the engagement, in the British Islands or on the Continent of Europe between the Elbe and Brest, of seamen who do not possess a sufficient knowledge of the English language to understand necessary orders, may, if the clause becomes law, to some extent, at all events, meet the case.