HC Deb 22 February 1906 vol 152 cc507-8
MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether his attention has been called to the inquiry held at Cardiff into the loss of the Cardiff steamer "Ordovician"; whether he can state how many able seamen were em- ployed and their respective nationalities; whether he can say how many of the alien seamen were able to speak and understand English; whether his attention has been directed to the remarks addressed to the court of inquiry by the learned stipendiary of Cardiff; and whether, seeing the dangers attached to the employment of alien seamen who cannot understand English, it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to introduce, at an early date, a Bill to prohibit the employment of such seamen, as recommended by the Mercantile Marine Committee.


Yes, Sir. My attention has been called to the case referred to in the question. I am informed that four able seamen were engaged at Swansea. One of these was a Greek and three were natives of a Greek island belonging to Turkey. I understand from the superintendent before whom the men were engaged that five of the alien seamen spoke and understood English fairly; and that three did not. My attention has been called to the remarks of the Cardiff stipendiary in the case. The matter generally is one with which it is proposed to deal in the Merchant Shipping Bill to be shortly introduced into Parliament.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the chief officer whose certificate was suspended for three months has held a master's certificate from the year 1887, that he has been presented by the Board of Trade with several medals for gallantry at sea, and will he under these circumstances, seeing that the loss of this ship was due to the want of proper seamen, consider the advisability of returning this officer his Board of Trade certificate, so as to allow him to earn his bread?


I will promise to look into the matter.