§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed [23rd October] on Consideration of the Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee).
Which Amendment was£
In page 26, line 26, to leave out Clause 51."£(Mr. Evelyn Cecil.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words of the Clause to the word ' spaces,' in page 26, in line 26, stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY (Great Grimsby)
admitted that the concession made by the President of the Board of Trade was a valuable one, and that it did, to a considerable extent, remove some portion of the burden which would be thrown upon two of the interests of the shipping community. He desired to ask, however, if he would reconsider his proposal, because, although it did, to some extent, meet their wishes, yet the clause was most objectionable and most injurious to certain interests. The President of the Board of Trade had said there had been great changes in the Bill in the interests of seamen. It was the duty of all interested parties and all those who had to do with the seafaring population to bear a certain portion of the obligation. If the main interests concerned were to receive benefits under the Bill, he would be prepared very largely to agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but the Bill as it stood had been termed a shipowner's Bill. He did not wish to use the phrase in any offensive way. The Bill removed several serious difficulties. It made the shipowning business more just and more equitable than it had been for many years. But 131 the shipowners had been called upon under the Bill to provide more water space and space for provisions and, of course, they had to establish also a scale of feeding for the men on the ship. All these extra obligations in nearly every instance, so far as good shipowners were concerned, would cost them nothing. If they took the scale of feeding in all large ships, though there might be some variation in the kind of food they would see that the new scale would not cost a farthing more than the old. Therefore, all the advantages seemed to be going to the shipowner, because he had got a great concession in the re-consideration of the load line, and in the requirement that all foreign ships loading and unloading at British ports should respect the British load line. To that extent the Bill would put British shipping upon a better footing in the future than had been the case in the past, and consequently there would be a more equitable and reasonable method of competition. But practically the whole advantage of the Bill was going to the shipowners, whilst the pilot and dock-owners would get no advantage whatever. It might be said the pilot did get some advantage, but he did not get any immediate advantage. He was obliged to the President of the Board of Trade for putting in a clause requiring that in the future, all men who hold certificates as pilots should be British born, but his clause did not apply to the foreign pilots who held certificates at the present time. Consequently, although in the future, therefore, a pilot might benefit to some extent, he would not benefit at the present time, and they would impose upon him serious loss if they allowed the clause to stand as it did at present. What was the case of the dockowners? This Bill would do a great injustice to dockowners, and he hoped the President of the Board of Trade would give their case further consideration. Dockowners were not always private corporations; very often large public funds were invested, and sometimes a sacrifice of revenue meant a sacrifice by the public through their rates. Everyone knew that unless a dock was connected with a railway company and was a kind of receiving warehouse it was not a paying concern. This question of the dock-owners' interest ought to be thoroughly considered by the President of the Board 132 of Trade. This clause would give all shipowners the right to have their ships re-measured. Under the Bill, a shipowner could have his ship re-measured at one- fifth of the fees paid at the present time, and if they were to attempt to get a ship measured under the Board of Trade regulations they would stand no chance of getting any portion of the net tonnage reduced. The Board of Trade had laid down definite rules for each ship which was measured. The question of gross and net tonnage was beset with difficulties, of which he hoped the Board of Trade would find a solution; but there was no reason why, in this Bill, they should accentuate those difficulties. By this clause, which provided that owners might re-measure their ships, and stated that water ballast could be excluded, they were laying down a principle under which nearly every shipowner with a ship of 5,000 tons, and a net tonnage of 63 per cent. would come and ask to have his ship re-measured. He believed that under this clause the net tonnage of the ship might be reduced by at least 10 per cent. If the net tonnage of ships was reduced by anything like 10 per cent., or even by the 5 per cent. which had been suggested by the President of the Board of Trade, there would be a very serious loss to the revenue of the dockowners. He appealed to the President of the Board of Trade not to let this clause stand. It seemed to him that it did not affect the main objects of the Bill. The other clauses were excellent in their way, and this seemed quite a separate thing put in for some special reason or purpose— he believed, to serve the interests of the shipowners. The shipowners were getting a good deal in the Bill, and why there should be a clause that might have a tendency to reduce the remuneration of the pilots of England, and seriously injure the income of the dockowners, he could not understand.
§ * MR. DAVID MACIVER (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
demurred entirely and emphatically to the statement that this Bill as a whole was to the advantage of shipowners. It was not to the advantage of all shipowners, although it might be to the advantage of some. He wished to refer to the load-line question. In this matter he thought 133 the foreigners should have been brought up to the British standard.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order! order! This clause does not deal with the load-line. The House has already decided that point.
§ * MR. DAVID MACIVER
thought he was perfectly in order in saying that this Bill was not to the advantage of all shipowners. It was in the interests of some, but not in the interests of all. Naturally they each of them looked at this question from their own individual point of view. The Bill was a long one, and contained a good many clauses which were not at all light and interesting reading. Speaking for himself, he entirely overlooked the real meaning of Clause 51 until his attention was drawn to it by his friends the pilots, who approached him in a reasonable way, and he very much sympathised with their view, that their earnings ought not to be reduced. So far he was in accord with the hon. Member for Grimsby and the lion. Member for Aston, who had stated the case of the pilots so clearly that he could not usefully add a word to what he said. The Bill was for the benefit of certain shipowners, one of whom he saw in the House. Clause 51 operated unfairly between ship and ship, and would not give any advantage to shipowners engaged in regular trade and whose vessels carried mixed cargoes. Such vessels could be filled in fairly good times with more or less heavy cargo in the bottom and light cargo at the top. That was the position of the shipowner engaged in regular trade. But there was a certain class of shipowner engaged in such trades as the coal trade, which was the only export trade at this moment that showed any real increase. This clause in its operation would be to the advantage of certain shipowners whose vessels were constructed in a particular way to carry coal out and bring grain home. That class of vessel, and that alone, would benefit by this clause. They would not rind that steamship owners generally were in favour of the clause or that they looked upon it as being to the advantage of those engaged in the general shipping trade. On the other hand, he did not think he was predicting too much when he suggested that 134 shipbuilders would expect some ship building orders for vessels specially designed to meet the requirements of this clause. The shipowners in the general trade were going to be subjected to the unfair competition of vessels constructed to meet this clause. The whole question of tonnage measurement was a very complex one, and he thought he was in order in pointing out that there had been a Committee which considered this question generally, presided over by his hon. friend the Member for Dulwich. It would be out of order to refer in detail to the work of that Committee, but such a clause as that now proposed formed no part whatever of its recommendations. Let him explain how this alteration in the system of tonnage measurement would work. He thought he was right in maintaining that the shipowners and shipbuilders were perfectly justified in taking the law as it stood and in trying to find out how, within the four corners of that law, they could build a ship whose dues paying tonnage would be as small as possible. What was the position of a vessel whose principal business it was to carry coal or any other heavy cargo such as pig iron? Of course they could not fill a ship with pig iron or coal or wheat in the same way as they could fill it with mixed cargo, because she would sink; therefore vessels only intended to carry coal were so constructed that the actual cargo space should not be larger than could be utilised. In some ships an unnecessarily large space was therefore set apart for the engine room, and for other parts for which there was no use, in order that the vessel might escape dues. There were many other ways in which a large amount of space was allowed to be deducted in order to reduce the net tonnage of the ship. Colliers already had their tonnage unreasonably reduced under various pretexts, and it was now proposed to give them more space for so-called water ballast, which, in many cases, would never be used as such. These spaces, which it was proposed under Clause 51 to deduct from the tonnage, were absolutely necessary for purposes of flotation. Whether a vessel was constructed to carry coal or grain, she must have a certain amount of empty space to give her the necessary buoyancy to keep her safely afloat. Those spaces it was 135 now proposed to deduct, and he thought that was unreasonable. Looking at it perhaps from a rather selfish point of view, shipowners in the general cargo trade did not want to see certain of their competitors paying less money for their dock accommodation than they ought to do, because it came home be them that it others paid too little they would have to pay more. It was absolutely not the fact to say that shipowners in general were in favour of this clause of the Bill. Most of his shipbuilding friends were in favour of it for the reason he had stated. It was unfair that the owners of certain vessels should be benefited to the disadvantage of everybody else, and to the destruction of the revenue of the dock-owners. Perhaps he might be allowed to say that he did not regard this Bill even in other respects as much of an advantage to British shipowners. It contained several objectionable provisions. He objected strongly to Clause 51, because it was unfair between ship and ship, and unfair in regard to dock companies and pilots, and he did not think that it ought to become law.
§ * THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. KEARLEY,) Devonport
said the hon. Gentleman opposite had reminded the House once more of what his objections were to the clause as it stood at the present moment in the Bill. The Bill proposed to increase the deductions for tonnage in three ways. It proposed to allow a deduction for the increased accommodation of the crew, for the storage of provisions and water, and in respect of the space used exclusively for water ballast. Since Clause 51 was drafted the dock owners and the pilots had placed their case before the President of the Board of Trade, and his right hon. friend had been very much influenced by the strength of the case they made out. He might point out that they never set forth their objections at all until the Bill had gone through Committee. It was not stated there that these deductions constituted a grievance to the dock owners and pilots, and when they did come and represent their case, it was impossible not to feel the injustice that might arise to them, and the Government had considered the whole position. First of all, let him say in regard to crew space deduc- 136 tion that it would be perfectly impossible under the Act as at present——
§ MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)
I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that this clause affects crew space at all. Is he sure that it does?
§ * MR. KEARLEY
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to complete the observations I was about to make. was about to argue that the principal Act at the present moment laid it down that any increased space for crew made voluntarily by a shipowner, even though in excess of the statutory requirements, is entitled to deduction.
§ * MR. KEARLEY
said that was his point. It was already conceded. What was absolutely new was the deduction for storage of provisions and water, When the deputation of dock owners and pilots came, his right hon. friend put to them the point: "What is your greatest grievance? What is the grievance that hits you hardest?" They said that the grievance that would hit them hardest would be the deduction in respect of space used for storage of provisions and water; and that was the concession the Government were prepared to make. In regard to the deduction of space for water ballast, that would be an encouragement to shipowners to keep their eye on the necessity for safety, and the Government wanted to encourage ship owners, by giving them the benefit of this deduction, to provide an adequate amount of water-ballast space, and he thought they would have to ask those Gentlemen who had criticised the clause adversely to accept the decision of the Government. There were Amendments down in the name of his hon. friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil, two of which the Government proposed to accept, the effect being that they would forego the deduction as to space for provisions and water, and adhere to the remainder. That would be a substantial concession to the dock owners and pilots. In fact it would practically mean the full removal of the grievance expressed by the 137 deputation, and at the same time it would leave something substantial to the shipowners, and he thought the compromise they were prepared to make was one which the House ought to accept.
§ MR. BRACE (Glamorganshire, S.)
said he was not in agreement with the Secretary to the Board of Trade when he said that what the President of that Department had offered fairly met the case of the dock authorities and the pilots; but he was open to confess that it went a substantial way to meet what they had boon arguing for, and, rather than continue the discussion, he was disposed to ask his hon. friend who had proposed this Amendment to withdraw it upon the undertaking given by the President of the Board of Trade that the concession of space used for the storage of provisions and water would be taken out of Clause 51. They would have an opportunity of discussing later the question of water ballast, and also the whole question of ship measurements, and therefore he contented himself with asking his hon. friend if he could see his way to withdraw the Amendment on the undertaking given by the President of the Board of Trade.
§ MR. JOYCE (Limerick)
said he might be allowed to state what was the opinion of the pilots and how they were prepared to accept what had been called the reasonable compromise of the President of the Board of Trade. He could not say that he felt altogether satisfied with what the right hon. Gentleman had promised, but there was an old saying "Half a loaf is better than no bread." The President of the Board of Trade had met them in a very straightforward manner, and had stated to the House when the Bill was under consideration last, what he was prepared to do. As a direct representative of the pilots he was i prepared to say that they would accept the compromise offered by the President of the Board of Trade, and this Amendment might now be withdrawn. When the question of water ballast came up he hoped they would have an opportunity of saying something more. As to the question of crew space he did not think there was a pilot or a harbour authority in the United Kingdom—and he happened to be a representative of both—that would object to any deductions for the comfort 138 and convenience of the crew of a ship. He would ask the hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of this clause to withdraw the Amendment.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER (Stockton)
said a good deal had been said as to the benefits to be got from the Bill, and he was glad to say that even at this late hour the shipowners had been considered to some extent, and that the Bill did equalise, as far as foreign ships were concerned, the conditions when they sailed from this country. But the benefits were not all on one side. Under this Bill shipowners in future would have to provide a food scale for their men much over and above that which formerly had been supplied and one which would largely increase the cost of. sailing vessels. He was not going to dwell upon that. He did not at all agree that Clause 51 was an unfair one, but it was a matter of compromise. It seemed to be the wish of a great many Members that the space occupied by provisions and water should not be deducted in future. As a matter of compromise, and solely as a matter of compromise, and not as a matter of justice at all, he dared say the shipowners of this country would accept the proposition. With regard to water ballast, he thought hon. Members did not fully understand what had hitherto been the position. Water ballast had hitherto been carried nearly altogether in the bottom of the ship, and so far it had not been measured in the matter of tonnage; but lately it had been found that it was not always safe to have water ballast in that portion of the ship. Having it at the bottom of the ship made it labour some and it contributed to unseaworthiness. Designs had been made and ships built providing for water ballast being carried in the sides of the ship or even on the decks. So far as the deduction of tonnage was concerned it was quite immaterial whether water ballast was carried in the bottom, or the sides, or the top of the ship. This clause provided that the water ballast should be deducted in ascertaining the net tonnage of the vessel. The clause itself did not give any benefit to shipbuilders or shipowners, but it would materially add to the safety of the vessels if shipbuilders were allowed to build ships with space for water ballast 139 otherwise than at the bottom of the ship. The proposal made in Clause 51 with regard to water ballast was a perfectly fait one to all concerned; it did no damage whatever either to pilots or to dockowners. He hoped the clause, as now proposed by the President of the Board of Trade, would be unanimously accepted.
§ * MR. CAIRNS (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
said he did not wish to intervene at any length in the debate if there was a disposition to accept the clause as a settlement of the matter. The hon. Member for Grimsby had used strong phrases on behalf of the claims of the dock authorities; but he had not given the House any definite statement in support of his strong language. The hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool differentiated between one class of ships and another, where he should have taken a general view. He confessed that he could not follow him altogether; but he understood that he said that in the coal and the grain trade, vessels could not fill their holds with such cargo. He respectfully controverted that, for such vessels had to be able to load light grain as well as heavy, and in the case of some coals, notably Northumberland large steam coals, many vessels could not load their deadweight owing to their lightness. Such coals occupied fifty feet of the vessel's capacity to the ton weight. With the increase in the size of vessels the dock and harbour authorities had secured an enormous increase in dues, without having had to increase their accommodation in proportion. A vessel of 1,000 tons nett register, the earlier typical size, was 250 feet in length. The more modern vessel of 2,000 tons nett register was only some 330 feet in length; the quay space now required was thus only about 30 per cent. more, whilst the revenue from the tonnage had doubled. The increase in the depth of these larger vessels had been very small, and altogether the demand upon decently equipped docks or harbours had been small compared with their increased revenue. Further, the spaces provided for provisions and water were not revenue earning spaces, and should therefore not be taxed. The concession offered by the President of the Board of Trade was generous, but was at the expense of the shipowners. He thought it should be 140 accepted and the House allowed to proceed to business.
§ * MR. EVELYN CECIL
said that although he would have preferred that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had agreed to further reduction, he begged leave to withdraw his Amendment on the understanding that the next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, was accepted by the right hon. Gentleman as he had offered.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil) moved to omit the words "spaces used for the storage of provisions and water and" so as to confines the deductions to the spaces used for water ballast.
In page 26, lines 26 and 27, to leave out the words ' spaces used for the storage of provisions and water and.'"—(Mr. D. A. Thomas.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand Dart of the Bill."
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said that before this Amendment on which the House was practically agreed passed he should like to make one or two observations in regard to what had been euphemistically called a compromise with the shipowners. He did not know if this was a compromise in favour of the shipowners, but if so, it reminded him of the store of the negro who, having been asked "What is a lottery?" said, "You take a ticket; he take the money; you get nothing." It was absurd to speak of this as being a concession to the shipowner. He understood that the House was willing that the space for provisions and water should not be deducted. So far as he was concerned, he left the responsibility of accepting this Amendment to the House. He took a broad view of the matter, because the question of water ballast did not affect him in any way whatever. If his hon. friend opposite could build steamers which were safer by carrying water ballast, and which would 141 pay less dues than other ships, he thought it would be a very dog in the manger policy to oppose him. He maintained that the Amendment before the House was really no concession to the shipowners at present, although it might be in the future.
§ MR. CHARLES WILSON (Hull, W.)
said he was afraid, much as he wished not to, that he would have to vote against this Amendment, because the whole object of the Bill was to improve the condition of the mercantile marine, and the condition of the men on these ships. Here was a case in which it would be greatly to the advantage of all the shipowners that they should be encouraged to carry their provisions and water in well-ventilated deck-houses—on the top of the ship— instead of down below in the after-peak or fore-peak, which were, as a rule, inconveniently situated and generally badly ventilated. If they allowed the shipowner to carry provisions for the crew and deduct the tonnage it would only amount to a very few tons on each ship—about three tons measurement would meet the average cases. If the Government thought that the owners of passenger ships were anxious to make an extreme use of these spaces to carry provisions for passengers, then he would leave the words in: but in the case of cargo ships which did not carry any passengers at all, they should be encouraged to put deck-houses on the top of the ship, and on the sides if they liked, in order to carry the provisions and water in a satisfactory manner.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendments proposed—
§ "In page 26, line 30, to leave out from the word 'words,' to end of line 32."—(Mr. D. A. Thomas.)
§ "In page 26, line 35, to leave out the word 'that.'"—(Mr. D.A. Thomas.)
§ "In page 26, line 35, after the word 'sub-section,' to insert the words 'one of that section.'"—(Mr. D. A. Thomas.)
§ "In page 28, line 28, to leave out the words 'he is engaged,' and insert the words ' the seaman has signed the agreement.'"— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ "In page 28, line 34, to leave out the words 'be made,' and insert the words 'begin at the 142 expiration of one month from the date of the agreement with the crew and shall be paid.'"— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ "In page 28, line 35, to leave out from the word ' of ' to end of clause, and insert the words 'every subsequent month after the first month, and shall be paid only in respect of wages earned before the date of payment.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ *MR. L. HASLAM (Monmouth-Boroughs) moved an Amendment to Clause 57 (master to give facilities to seamen for remitting wages), the effect of which was to provide that where the balance of wages due to a seaman was more than,£10, and the seaman expressed to the master his desire to have facilities afforded to him for remitting, after the ship had left port, all or any part of the balance to a savings bank or near relative in whose favour an allotment note might be made, the master should give to the seaman all reasonable facilities for the purpose as regarded so much of the balance as was in excess of £10, but should be under no obligation to give the facilities while the ship was in port, if the sum would become payable before the ship left port, or otherwise than on condition that the seaman went to sea in the ship. He thought this proposal would be very valuable. It would be the first time in the history of legislation for merchant seamen that they would have some legal right to a portion of their wages. It was the thin edge of the wedge, and before long means might be found by which the seaman should have more control over his wages than at present. It was said that seamen were not to be trusted with their money, but he believed that if the seamen were trusted more and had more rights over their wages they would behave better and would prove more worthy to be trusted. A great deal of the desertion that took place at various ports was due to the fact that the master did not allow the men to have sufficient money, and then they got into the hands of crimps. He hoped that seamen would take full advantage of this clause, so that when they were discharged at the end of a voyage, there would not be a large sum of money paid them in cash which they might be liable to lose by falling into bad company.143
In page 28, line 38, to leave out from the word 'seaman' to end of line 41, and to insert the words 'expresses to the master of the ship his desire to have facilities afforded to him for remitting, at any time after the ship has left port, all or any part of the balance to a savings bank, or to a near relative in whose favour an allotment note may be made, the master shall give to the seamen all reasonable facilities for so doing so far as regards so much of the balance as is in excess of ten pounds, but shall be under no obligation to give those facilities while the ship is in port if the sum will become payable before the ship leaves port, or otherwise than conditionally on the seamen going to sea in the ship'"—(Mr. L. Haslam.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
did not desire to express dissent from this Amendment; indeed, he congratulated the hon. Member upon the extremely successful manner in which he had welded into one so many Amendments which had been put down. But the opportunities of remitting when at sea and when the vessel was not in port could not be otherwise than limited, unless Marconi's wireless system of telegraphy was used. That however, was really a drafting criticism, and he had not a word to say against the spirit of the Amendment.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
understood that what was aimed at by the Amendment was that only paper money should be used and transmitted to relatives of the seaman. The seaman would be given an order upon the owners which would be posted to the relatives and honoured after the vessel had put to sea. The hon. Member did not want the seaman to draw money in port, but he had to protect the interest of the shipowner by seeing that the money was not paid until after the vessel had gone to sea. A great hardship was very often inflicted on seamen in consequence of their being unable to draw part of the wages due to them for the purpose of sending home. He had known men with sixty or seventy pounds due to them as wages who had not been able to draw a penny because all money had to be drawn at the captain's office. The 144 master frequently said he could not pay, but if they wanted any clothes he could send them to a tailor who would give them what they required, and the master frequently received 35 per cent. of the money so paid. What his hon. friend wanted was the money to be placed in a bank at home so that it could be drawn upon by the man if he wanted it.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said in view of the statement of his hon. friend that he had no objection to this addition, he would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade that it was undesirable to leave any opportunity of conflict open. He would therefore ask him whether it might not be desirable to put in after the word "expresses" the words "in writing," so that there should be a definite record of the transaction when the application was made. If the insertion of those words did nothing else it would make a record of the transaction which would prevent subsequent conflicts, and that being so they were, in his humble judgment, desirable.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
asked what was the Government's opinion of this drafting, "after the ship has left port." The Government must recollect that although to people interested in shipping it might be simple, and no doubt was simple, this clause might finally have to be construed by a Court. Therefore, it behaved the House to see that what they meant to express was clearly stated. He did not see how one could remit at a time after the ship had left the port, though he quite understood the object of the words, which was that money should not be remitted until after the ship had left port. He wished to know if the Government were in accord with the hon. Member in this matter, or whether they did not think it would be wiser to add words which would make the meaning clearer.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE,) Carnarvon Boroughs
said he was not quite sure that these were the best words for the object in view, but that object was perfectly clear, and what it meant was 145 that money should not be remitted to a sailor's home at a time when the ship was in port and thus give the man an inducement not to sail. These words were introduced as a safeguard against that, and to ensure that the money should be sent home after the ship had left port. There was no doubt that a man might be strongly tempted if he knew that there was money at home for him. However, he would consider whether the words were the best that could be devised to carry out the object they had in view, and if they were not, he would, if necessary, have an Amendment introduced into the Bill in another place.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
said the right hon. Gentleman had not said a word in answer to the noble Lord as to the application being made in writing. It was essential that there should be no conflict after these applications were made as to what had taken place, and, therefore, it would appear desirable that these applications should be made in writing. It was a very simple matter, and when the right hon. Gentleman was considering the words of the Amendment he would suggest that he should also incorporate the words of the noble Lord.
§ * MR. CAIRNS
pointed out that the seaman might omit to make the application in writing and thus put the master in the position of being able to refuse the seaman's request. They should not impose anything of a technical character upon the seaman, the neglect of which would injure his interest. The payment of these sums would follow lines already well understood between captain and crew. They would probably take the form of the usual order upon the owners to pay a given sum to the order of the seaman so many days after the vessel had left the foreign port.
SIR GILBERT PARKEE (Gravesend)
asked for some reason why the words of the noble Lord should not be inserted, for he saw no reason why they should not.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he did not think they ought to call upon a sailor in a matter of this kind to act in the same way as an ordinary business 146 man would do. They could not expect that. The ordinary way in which these matters were conducted was for a sailor to say "I want to send home some money. There is £15 owing to me for wages, let me have some to send home."
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said he had no quarrel with the object of the hon. Member, which he thought was a good one, but he would like to point out that with allotment tickets at present the sailor had to sign them. He only asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, on further consideration, he did not think it better to have a written request.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Proposed words inserted.
In page 29, line 23, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'or which was in course of construction on the first day of July, 1906.'"— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER
thought the right hon. Gentleman must have made some mistake. Did he not, in fact, mean 1907?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said as the Amendment was originally drafted it was intended to apply to all ships constructed at the date of the passing of the Act. It was then pointed out to him that there were a number of ships which had been designed but not constructed; then the Government inserted this date as being the date when notice was given, and now any ship constructed would be constructed after due notice had been given.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER
said that an ordinary tramp steamer laid down in July this year would be finished by January 1907. He thought if the right hon. Gentleman wished this to apply to ships under construction he should insert the date January 1907.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the words 'July, 1906,' and to insert the words 'January, 1907.'"—(Sir R. Ropner.)
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
In page 29, line 24, to leave out the word 'two,' and insert the word 'three.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON moved to leave out lines 28, 29, and 30. He could not understand why the President of the Board of Trade should desire in this Bill to give the lascars less accommodation than was given to European people. For many years in this House they had a great controversy, and the right hon. Gentleman himself took no mean part in it, about the lascar having the same accommodation as white men on British ships. Now, when they had a Merchant Shipping Bill it was proposed to give the lascar 72 cubic feet, whilst the white man was to have 120. That was a direct encouragement, he thought, to shipowners to prefer lascars to white men, and it was to the disadvantage of British seamen. He was a member of the Mercantile Marine Committee, before which they had some medical evidence, and the medical men were all of opinion that the lascar seaman really ought to have as much accommodation as a European, because, being a weak man, he required more ventilation. He put to the right hon. Gentleman in the early part of this year some Questions with regard to the deaths that occurred amongst lascars on board merchant ships, and it was surprising to find that so many died from consumption and diseases of the chest, largely due, in his opinion, to the fact that they had not sufficient accommodation. The distinction made between lascars and white men in this respect, he could only believe was due to the fact that some of the large shipping companies that carried lascar seamen wanted to have an advantage in this matter. They wanted 148 to have the privilege of carrying lascars and treating them worse, than they would treat a white crew. Seventy-two cubic feet was a very small space, but he could quite understand that in tropical climates it would be quite sufficient for lascars, because there very few people slept below decks in very hot weather. In cold climates, however, the men must live under cover, and it was a disgrace to herd them together in the manner they were herded together on board some of the large ships that carried lascar seamen. For that reason he desired to delete that part of the clause, and he had a further Amendment to move afterwards. He did not want to be unfair in any way to the lascar seamen, but he did think that they ought to be provided with ample and proper accommodation, and he thought those shipowners who carried lascar seamen ought to be reasonable enough to see that the lascars had ample and proper accommodation.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
thought the best way of dealing with the matter, if he might recommend it to the hon. Gentleman, would be to leave out lines 28, 29 and 30 and to move to insert the words he reposed in order to raise the whole question.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said he would adopt the course suggested by Mr. Speaker. Hisproposal was that lascar seamen, whilst serving on board British ships, in latitudes beyond 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south, should be provided with the same amount of space in forecastles appropriated for their use as provided for Europeans, but when serving within tropical climates, that was, within the above-named latitudes, 72 cubic feet should be deemed sufficient space for each lascar seaman. There were very good grounds for proposing a clause of this kind, as he had already said that in tropical climates it did not matter very much if it was 72 cubic feet, because the men could sleep on deck and no hardship was inflicted, but in cold latitudes it was absolutely necessary that they should sleep under cover. There was a time, not many years ago, when the law prohibited the employment of lascars in latitudes higher than 35 degrees north or 35 degrees south, but by some 149 means or other that had been altered. Under this Amendment, if the lascars came into cold climates they would have the same accommodation as the white men, and in tropical climates he would be quite satisfied if they had 72 cubic feet each.
In page 29, to leave out lines 28, 29 and 30, and insert the words, 'lascar seamen whilst serving on board British ships in latitudes beyond thirty-five degrees north and thirty-five degrees south, shall be provided with the same amount of space in forecastles appropriated for their use as provided for Europeans, but when serving within tropical climates, that is, within the above-named latitudes, seventy-two cubic feet shall be deemed sufficient space for each Lascar seaman.'"—(Mr. Havelock Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
* MR. KEAKLEY
said the effect of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment would be that in tropical climates the present cubical space allowed would suffice, but in cold climates the extended crew space provided by the Bill would apply to lascars. The hon. Gentleman argued that in tropical climates no objection could be raised to 72 cubic feet, but that it was a different matter altogether in cold climates. He was bound to say that that seemed to him to be rather a singular argument. He would have thought, if anything, the provision should have been extended in the reverse way, because if there was any need for increased accommodation, one would have thought it was more pressing in tropical climates than in colder climates. He would point out to the hon. Gentleman that the lascars were in fact under the protection of the Indian Government, who were perfectly well aware what was being done for the British seamen by this Bill in the matter of space accommodation, etc.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Would the hon. Gentleman mind my correcting him on this point? It has been decided in the Courts that all seamen em- 150 ployed on vessels under the Imperial law are subject to the Imperial law, and have nothing to do with the Indian Government.
§ * MR. KEARLEY
said that was not the point. The point decided by the Courts was that the lascar was entitled to seventy-two feet. The Courts did not lay down that any future Bill should have application to lascars.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said the point was that the shipowners contended that the lascar seaman was subject to the Indian law. He contended that as they were on British registered ships they were subject to the Imperial law. The Court decided in his favour.
§ * MR. KEARLEY
said the Court decided that in the absence of any express definition to the contrary, a lascar came within the definition of seaman, and consequently he was entitled to seventy-two feet. Notwithstanding that, his point was that the lascar in practice was under the protection of the Indian Government. If the Indian Government thought it necessary to amend their law to give the lascar the full benefit of this Act they could do so. His Majesty's Government were in communication with the Indian Government with regard to this Bill, and their opinion was that the Indian Government should have the opportunity of legislating on the subject. His Majesty's Government thought it would be better to leave it in that way. They were communicating with the Indian Government on this particular point, and had already had some correspondence with regard to the Bill itself. He hoped, therefore, his hon. friend would not press this Amendment.
§ * MR. BRACE
hoped the hon. Member would press this Amendment to a division. Representing a constituency which brought him in close touch with sailors, he could inform the House that there was a general opinion prevailing now that British shipowners were disposed to give preferential treatment to lascars. This Bill was making a provision which would be a direct inducement for the employment of lascars at the expense of British sailors. They did not 151 object to the employment of lascars as such, but if lascars were to be employed, then they must give their own people a fair chance, and the only fair opportunity they could have in equal competition was that the lascars should be employed under exactly the same conditions as British seamen. He was persuaded that if this clause as it stood at present was accepted without such words being added as those proposed by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, they would have British seamen placed at a disadvantage.
§ * MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
did not think that the proposal they were discussing could be regarded as preferential treatment for the lascars. Wherever the lascar was employed there was no doubt that he was a most-valuable auxiliary, and what in the name of common sense did they want to force upon that unhappy man more cubic contents of air than he wanted. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] He hoped hon. Members opposite would bear with him a little, because he happened to know something about the lascars. He repeated that wherever the lascar was employed he was a most valuable auxiliary, and it was absolutely absurd to press upon him regulations which were only suited to people of a totally different temperament and colour. It was perfectly well known to any hon. Member acquainted with the East that the amount of cubic air-space which was considered necessary for a European was regarded as an abominable draught by a lascar or other residents in the East. If a lascar was not to be the judge of the amount of air that was good for him then the hon. Member who had just been interrupting him was not the best judge of what government was best for Ireland. It was absurd for hon. Members who were not acquainted with the life of Orientals and their habits to say that they ought in this way to educate them up to the European standard. Surely the conditions under which they lived and moved and had their being were such as should be fairly taken into account in dealing with this or any other matter. He was not pleading for any preferential treatment for the lascar, but he thought the hon. Member for Glamorganshire 152 had put this question on a rather false footing in treating it in the way he had done. As the hon. Member opposite championed the cause of the British sailor, perhaps he might be allowed for the moment to speak for the lascar.
§ * MR. REES
said he did say that. Nor was it a fair thing that any British industry should be forced to provide unnecessary space for lascars, or any other foreigners. He felt sure that those hon. Members who were pressing this matter would subsequently regret their action. As the hon. Member opposite had made himself the spokesman for the British sailor, he was taking the part of the lascar who did his work alongside the British sailor, and did it very well. When hon. Members had had more experience of lascars they would agree with him, he was sure, that it was not for them to say what breathing space the lascar required. He hoped, therefore, that this Amendment would not be pressed. If it were a case of British sailor or lascar, he would vote for the British sailor, but that was not the case. The lascar was needed, where the British sailor could not work, and the extended shipping trade we enjoyed in consequence of our having lascars also to draw upon, enlarged the field of employment of the British sailor.
§ * MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
thought the house would agree with him when he said that the speech of the hon. Member opposite was a defence of alien labour in preference to British labour. They all knew the attitude he adopted in regard to another subject which would be debated later on; therefore the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs ought not to be taken as an unprejudiced witness in this business because he had always, whenever any discussions had taken place in this House, supported the alien as against his own countrymen. They should not take his remarks too seriously. He knew perfectly well that at the present time our mercantile marine was finding employment for a great many foreigners and the number 153 was increasing every day. It had become to those who took an interest in these things a very serious question if they desired to keep the Britisher predominant upon British ships. He thought by this Bill they were giving a very serious advantage to foreigners in competition with British sailors. Lascars could be housed on board ship with about half the space required for Europeans, and naturally, if this clause was passed, shipowners would employ the men who took up the least space on board the ships; consequently the British seamen would stand no chance in competition with these aliens. Then it should not be forgotten that the lascar would work for considerably less money than a British sailor, and that was a very serious thing to begin with. The employment of lascars hampered the British seamen not only on the economic ground as affecting his wages, but also with regard to the accommodation to be provided. The lascar was given a double advantage; there could not possibly be two opinions about this. He thought the proposition that shipowners should be compelled to supply the same amount of space for one man as another on board ship, whether he was a Britisher or a lascar, was a simple, sensible proposition, and any other proposal than that suggested by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough as a solution would place our own countrymen at a serious disadvantage in maintaining their supremacy and position in our mercantile marine.
§ MR. CHARLES WILSON
pointed out to the hon. Member for Stoke that ships, as a rule, took three lascars to one Englishman, and if they placed the limit at 72 feet they had to provide a space of 216 cubic feet for three lascars as against 123 feet for one Englishman. Although he sympathised with what had been said in regard to lascars he thought they must consider the interests of the big mail companies in this matter. It would be exceedingly difficult on those liners to give the amount of space which was now asked for.
§ MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N. R., Whitby)
confessed that he had listened attentively to the argument of the 154 hon. Gentleman opposite, and he must say that so far he was quite unconvinced. One hon. Member had told them that the lascar had a rooted objection to fresh air. He could not agree that that was the case, seeing that they had been told by an hon. Member below the gangway that the lascar on the first opportunity, after getting into tropical climates, usually slept on deck. That did not look as though he had any rooted objection to fresh air. If the hon. Member opposite had told them that the lascar had a rooted objection to fresh water, perhaps he should have understood him. He remained wholly unconvinced by what he had heard, and he could not help thinking that there was a great deal to be said for the idea held by the hon. Member below the gangway that everything should be done to encourage British seamen. So far as the debate had gone, he was rather inclined to vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. CAIRNS
said that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Middlesborough, as it stood, appeared to be entirely unworkable. It demanded 75 feet for lascars when in the tropics and 120 when in the northerly latitudes. In the case of a vessel coming from India to Liverpool, part of the voyage would be in tropical climates and part in temperate. Would the accommodation be constructed on the telescopic principle, so as to enlarge and contract during the voyage? If the hon. Member's object was to prevent lascars being taken at all, would it not be better for him to state it frankly? The clause had been further urged as contributing to the comfort of lascars. If that were the plea, how could they reconcile the smaller cubic space in the tropics where it was hot and uncomfortable with the 120 feet in the northerly latitudes where it was much cooler? The clause, he considered, was quite impracticable in application. Personally, it did not affect him at all, as he was not engaged in the trades where lascars wore employed. It was all the more desirable, therefore, that he should extend full and reasonable consideration to the rights of those who were concerned in the trade.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (City of London)
said it gave him great 155 pleasure to support His Majesty's Government on this occasion. He would point out to hon. Gentlemen below the gangway that lascars were British subjects and not aliens, and, therefore, the question they were now discussing was not whether foreigners or British seamen should be employed, but whether British subjects should be given an equal chance. That was a very simple thing, and he thought the House must remember that in dealing with a great Empire it must treat all the subjects of the Empire fairly and in the same degree. [An HON. MEMBER: And give equal space.] There was no use giving extra space to people who did not want it. He spoke with a little diffidence but, so far as he knew, these lascars were mainly employed on mail steamers, and the question arose whether or not it would be possible to give them additional space, and secondly, whether it was really necessary for the health of the lascars that this additional space should be given. An hon. Gentleman opposite, who had had great experience in India and other hot climates, had told them that lascars, as a matter of fact, did not like fresh air. He did not know whether that was so or not, but he had not heard any argument to show that the space allotted to the lascars had resulted in any epidemic or injured the health of the lascars. The first thing to prove was that the health of the lascars had been injured, but, so far as he had gathered the argument of hon. Members below the gangway, it had been that unless the same space was given to the lascars as was given to British sailors, the tendency of employers would be to employ lascars and not English sailors. He ventured to think that was at the bottom of the whole question. It was because hon. Gentleman wanted to make it impossible for the owners of mail steamers to employ lascars that they had raised this question about crew space. It was not out of consideration for the lascars, but out of consideration for somebody else. Under these circumstances it seemed to him that a reasonable attitude had been taken up by His Majesty's Government [Cries of "Oh."] It must not be forgotten that they had now a great Empire, and that our subjects in different parts of the Empire had different ideas and 156 wants, and that they were not built on the same line. They could not lay down a hard and fast line, and say that they must legislate for Englishmen in the same way as for our subjects in India. It seemed to him that the Government had taken the right course They said, "The lascar is fairly treated, and we have no reason to suppose that, qua lascar, he is unfairly treated. Therefore we do not accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman." It seemed to him that that was a fair and reasonable attitude to take up and he congratulated His Majesty's Government upon having adopted it.
§ MR. JENKINS (Chatham)
said there was one side of this question which had not been considered so seriously as it ought to have been. He referred to the sanitary aspect. One hon. Member had treated this question in a way which, in his opinion, was not creditable to him when he made a comparison between two classes of individuals—Britishers and lascars. He and his friends admitted that lascars were Britishers in every sense. It had been his lot to go into the forecastle of a ship where lascars were. He had gone at midnight and when a vessel had been in collision. He had had to go to the fore part of the ship through the forecastle, and the smells arising from that place were anything but satisfactory. In his opinion the condition of things was most disgraceful. Lascars were not the only persons on board a British ship. There were Englishmen there as quartermasters, engineers, captains and mates, and other officers. Having regard to the possibility of disease breaking out on board ship, caused by the stifling atmosphere in the confined spaces of the forecastle, it behaved the Government to see that the lives of the people were protected, even though the lascars themselves did not, as they were told, require this space. He repeated that to him it was deplorable, and if evidence was required he would remind the House that not very long ago the hon. Member for Middlesbrough submitted very pertinent questions to the President of the Board of Trade on the subject. He had before him the reply as to the number of Asiatic seamen reported to have 157 died during the year 1905. The figures were, from bronchitis, five; pleurisy, two; pneumonia, thirty-two; phthisis, thirty-two. [An HON. MEMBER: Out of how many?) Out of about 2,000. Some Members of the House were perhaps medical experts, and he would ask what was the advice they gave in regard to the treatment of these diseases in this country. Plenty of open space and plenty of fresh air was what they recommended. It was a matter of impossibility to expect that lascars could be a healthy body of men when they were confined to places which were no more sanitary than some of the compounds in South Africa.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said the comments that had fallen from the hon. Member for Chatham suggested a matter upon which more information was required. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough had not yet informed the House what he meant to cover by this Amendment. He presumed that what he really meant by the Amendment was that no vessel leaving the shores of this country should give less accommodation than 120 cubic feet per man for lascar crews, and that when the ship got to another latitude an alteration in the arrangements might be made and the space reduced to 72 cubic feet per man.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
May I explain to the hon. Gentleman that at the present time there are ships running on the coast of India which only give the lascar 36 cubic feet, whereas other ships have to give 72 cubic feet.
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said he did not think that met his point. Here was an Amendment which proposed an iron rule for all ships carrying lascar crews, and it said that a vessel in a certain latitude, about 35 degrees north, must give 120 cubic feet, but when the ship entered another latitude she might immediately alter the arrangements and for some mysterious reason reduce that space. He did not think that proposals should be put before the House unless they were intelligible and capable of being carried out. He submitted that it was not possible for shipowners to arrange their vessels in such a way 158 as to give the telescopic accommodation suggested by the Amendment. On the general question of lascars discussed in the course of the debate that day he should like to go to an authority, who was quite unimpeachable in the part of the house in which the hon. Member sat. A Commission or Committee was appointed by the Board of Trade in 1903 to report on certain conditions affecting the mercantile marine, and of that Committee the hon. Member for Middlesborough was a member, and he signed the Report. The Committee had before them numerous lascars whom they closely questioned as to their food and accommodation. He had looked through the evidence and he found that all the lascars confessed themselves, by some mysterious unanimity—he did not know how it was produced—to be perfectly satisfied both with the food and with the accommodation. He presumed it was all wrong, and that they were really most discontented people, and that the hon. Member really represented them in this House. It was evident that he himself had been imposed upon, because he signed the Report which gave quite a different complexion to the matter.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Does the hon. Gentleman say that I signed a Report recommending that lascars should have less accommodation than white men?
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said he would read the exact words. He had not the least intention of misrepresenting anybody. The Report of the Committee said—Lascars and other Asiatics who are British subjects stand on a different footing from foreigners. … We have been able to obtain the evidence of a shipping agent of Bombay and of several lascars employed in British ships. We think that in addition to their claim as British subjects, they have also some claim to employment, because British vessels have displaced the native trading vessels. Lascars are in most cases hereditary sailors, and have special qualifications for work as firemen in hot climates. They are temperate, and those who came before us made a most favourable impression upon us. The evidence shows that they make most amenable and contented crews. In consequence, their employment as firemen has grown almost universal in the tropics, and they are also largely employed in vessels trading between ports within the tropics and the United Kingdom.159 The hon. Gentleman did not insist upon a paragraph being put in the Report calling attention to the unsatisfactory condition in regard to cubic space, and the alteration he now suggested.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
The Report recognises that the space should be altered to 1 20 cubic feet. Read it all, and then you will see what was recommended.
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
thought that had nothing to do with the case in point. The Report further said—They are so contented and so anxious to retain their situations in British ships that it is not easy to be sure whether that service entails any hardship on them. We believe, however, that there is no reason to think that many of them do, in any appreciable degree, suffer when employed in the colder climates to the north of the Suez Canal, or even in the Atlantic trade.He thought that that Report showed that the present treatment and accommodation given in the ships was satisfactory to the Asiatics, and he did not think that the House should interfere with the arrangement which had been made with the Indian Government. That remark applied as well to food as to accommodation. They must take into consideration the whole of the conditions. Of course, that was extremely difficult to do, especially when dealing with seamen who were employed on our ships, and on the ships of other countries, which insisted on white labour only being employed. When it was suggested by a Commission in America that the shipowners should withdraw their Asiatic crews, the American Government was told that the shipowners would lay their boats up.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said that like his hon. friend he rose to support the Government on this matter. He would, however, point out the difference of view between the hon. Member who introduced the Amendment and everyone who had spoken in support of it. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil put it. entirely on the ground that he wished lascars to be well treated, whereas another hon. Gentleman at once altered the whole point of view and stated that they were not badly treated. His hon. friend said that when the lascars declared that they 160 did not want additional accommodation, he would make them take it whether they wanted it or not. They all desired that the lascars should be well treated in a fair and equal way. The difficulty might be got rid of if he pointed out that the lascars under this clause would have exactly the same accommodation as was now given to seamen of every nationality. They would be no worse in future than British seamen were now. Therefore, they would be under no hardship. There was no great hardship in putting the restrictions contained in the clause upon them. He supported this Bill, chiefly because it protected the shipping trade against unfair competition. It was perfectly fair for the Labour Party to say that if the shipowner was to be protected they wanted the men to be protected. He was entirely in sympathy with that, and he would do anything that he possibly could which would increase the number of British seamen on our ships. But he would point out that there was no trade in the world which it was more difficult to protect than the shipping trade. America, which was the most highly protected country in the world, had absolutely failed to protect its shipping, and the reason was obvious. If restrictions were imposed which would fall financially against the interests of the shipowners the conditions of the seamen and others employed on board ship would not be improved; because if the conditions of the seamen were not improved other men would be employed instead of British seamen. He was certain that nobody would contend for a moment that it would not be disastrous to British shipowners and British seamen if they did anything which would give an advantage, say, to the German liners.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that on all steamship lines subsidised by the German Government lascars are not allowed?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said he was aware of the fact that on the German liners lascars were not employed; but that did not affect the argument. Would the hon. Gentleman wish to say that the 161 lascars should be prevented from being employed on British ships?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said the hon. Gentleman wanted to make a distinction between British ships employed in tropical waters alone and those engaged in trading between the United Kingdom and tropical countries. If a ship was only employed in trading in the tropics it was true that only one class of accommodation would be necessary for the crew; but if a ship was employed in another trade between the tropics and the United Kingdom there must be accommodation for British seamen as well as for lascars. From every point of view he thought it would be extremely undesirable to adopt the Amendment.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)
said he rose to support the Amendment. He could not understand why the President of the Board of Trade should refuse to accept it. Did he make any distinction between foreigners and Englishmen who were engaged in factories in England? It might be said that the competition between foreigners and Britishers in the mercantile marine was different from the competition between English i workmen in factories and foreigners; but he contended that as foreign goods were sent in here, duty free. British workmen had to compete against foreigners on severer terms in our factories than in the mercantile marine. He did not see why any distinction should be made in this measure between a Chinaman or any other Eastern man and a man resident in the United Kingdom. If the regulation for the cubic feet space for a white man mentioned in the regulations was insisted upon, it simply sanctioned the exclusion of white men and assisted the employers to engage on board ship foreigners at the cheapest rate. Hon. Members above the gangway were in the habit of quoting Blue-books, but generally only; those portions of them which suited their purposes. They never quoted the evidence of expert minds. He would quote the evidence of an expert who had no personal object in view in giving 162 his evidence. Dr. Collingridge, medical officer for London, gave evidence before the Commission of 1902. A question was asked him in regard to the accommodation on board ship for seamen—Do you think that lascars can do with less accommodation as regards space than British seamen, or do you think that they should have the same accommodation—I mean as a sanitary matter?The answer was—As a purely sanitary matter, and not merely as a humanitarian matter, I think they should have more space.When asked why, Dr. Collingridge said that it was a well-known fact that although lascars in themselves were clean, there was an unpleasant smell given off from their bodies. There was no question as to that fact, and therefore there was no reason whatever why they should have less space. That was the evidence of an expert which should receive consideration from this House. He was not a shipowner and was only talking from a sanitary point of view. He stated that the lascars from a sanitary point of view not only required as much accommodation as British sailors but double, in consquence of the exhalations from their bodies He asked the President of the Board to accept the Amendment.
As an Irishman representing a sea-board constituency which supplied a great number of recruits to the mercantile marine and the Navy, he would not be doing his duty if he did not see that British sailors were treated fairly as compared with the lascars or any other men who worked on board ship. He did not see any reason for excluding Irishmen from British ships. This clause if it remained unamended would practically exclude Irishmen from British ships. If an employer found he could apportion more space to cargo and less to hands, he would do so and exclude the men who took up too much space. What would be said in this country if manufacturers were allowed to import foreign labour and pack them into cubicles in their factories? What would happen if they tried to impose the same conditions on the people in the British Islands as they did on board ship? He did not think the President of the Board of Trade would try an experiment like that, and 163 he was quite wrong if he thought he could afford to make different conditions for labour from the East when he was not applying the same rules to factories where they employed labour from all parts of the world. When they employed a man in this country they did not ask whether he was an Asiatic or an Englishman, but he had to work under the same conditions as the others who were working in that particular trade. He was sorry that the President of the Board of Trade was making this a Party question, and his conscience would not permit him to act with him. He hoped, therefore, that he would let the House decide for itself, and that he would give his Party absolute freedom in the matter.
§ MR. GODFREY BARING (Isle of Wight)
said Section 1 of Clause 58 provides 128 cubic feet of air space for a European, but an exception was made in sub-section 3 in the case of a lascar who was kept to an air space of 72 cubic feet. But if a British shipowner engaged an Asiatic such as a Chinaman or a Japanese, he was liable to have to provide him with the full air space of 120 feet. But if he was a lascar he had only to provide the smaller space of 72 cubic feet. Therefore they were in this extraordinary position that if men had the misfortune to be lascars they were to have 72 cubic feet, whilst the Chinaman or a Japanese must have the full air space provided for him. That appeared to him to require, some explanation, because it would appear that air space was somewhat dear in the British Empire.
SIR GILBERT PARKER
understood that it was the case that they required at least two lascars to do the work of one white sailor. If that was the case and the Amendment of his hon. friend was passed, it would practically prohibit shipowners from employing lascars at all, because it would be impossible to provide the amount of space required. He was quite sympathetic with the idea of giving the lascar any amount of air space which was necessary, and he should be strongly moved to vote in favour of such an Amendment. He should, however, like the Amendment to be put upon a proper basis. It was not moved because it pre- 164 sumed to deal with hygiene and the comfort and health of the lascar, but it was really aimed at the prohibition of the employment of lascars in British ships. If an Amendment dealing alone with hygiene and health had been brought forward, he would have given it his most serious and earnest support, but this Amendment had not that object; it was an insidious attempt practically to prohibit lascars from being employed on British ships. He felt that it was exceedingly unfortunate that the Amendment was not put upon a broader basis, because it would have got more support if it had not been so much directed at an object different from that which might appear on first reading.
§ * MR. MADDISON (Burnley)
said if the hon. Member for Gravesend had been in the House during the last few minutes he would have heard the opinion quoted of the Medical Officer of Health for London upon this very point. They had been talking for some time about what was good for the lascar and one hon. Member had assured the House that lascars did not require fresh air and did not want this, that and the other.
§ * MR. MADDISON
said Eastern people lived their own life in their own way, and he thought it was extremely foolish to interfere with them. Of course, that only applied when they were in their own country, where different climatic conditions prevailed, but when the lascar came into northern latitudes, the conditions were different. Then he thought the question ought to be approached not merely from an Eastern but from a Northern point of view. He supported the Amendment as one who was totally opposed to the exclusion of foreigners from British ships. He had had the privilege of differing from the hon. Member for Middlesbrough upon this point before, but he saw no reason at all why a foreigner should not be allowed to sail in a British ship just as they allowed him to work in a British factory. Some Members of the Opposition had argued that foreigners ought to be kept out of the 165 British mercantile marine just because they were foreigners, but he could not support a proposition of that kind. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough had said that these la scars had to sail through cold climates and they should not have less, nor more, but the same cubic space as the British seaman had. Surely a man ought not to be penalised because he happened to be a citizen of the British Empire and to have worse conditions than a Dutchman or a Spaniard; neither should British seamen undergo, as Dr. Collingwood showed they did undergo, a serious and grave danger from overcrowding on ships of lascars who thus became a menace to the health of British seamen. They had heard some talk about la scars not wanting air space. Was there a Member present not familiar with the same thing? When they were endeavouring to get rid of a slum, who had not heard of the healthy old woman, eighty years of age, who had been living in the slum all her life, and had enjoyed good health, and therefore it was said they ought not to disurb her at all? Every sanitary reformer had encountered the same sort of argument as they were now listening to in the case of the lascar. The hon. Member for Dulwich had pointed out that this Amendment had been supported by hon. Members opposite from the point of view of exclusion rather than the point of view of health, and that he supported this Bill because it gave a certain amount of protection to the shipping industry which he would like to see extended to other industries. He thought there were some serious blots in this Bill from that side of it, and he would ask the President of the Board of Trade to seriously consider this Amendment. He had not the slightest sympathy with the proposal to punish a foreigner if he overloaded his ship at a foreign port when coming to a British port, just as if a foreigner ought not to have the liberty to sink if he thought fit. He had not the slightest sympathy with that, and if a foreigner liked to overload his ship that was his business and not ours. Having taken that strong view in the interests of shipowners on one side, surely they ought to put the seamen on British ships in northern latitudes on 166 the same level. He wanted to protest against the notion that when they made good conditions of labour on board ship they handicapped the British shipowner, because the whole history of industry showed that that nation did the best in trade which gave the best conditions for the men in its employ, and there was no more sound argument than that.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said the argument was that for particular trades the lascars were necessarily better fitted than British seamen, and of course, if they were prohibited that would seriously affect British shipping.
§ * MR. MADDISON
said it all came to one point, namely, the charge that increasing space for lascars was handicapping the British shipowner. That was the argument, and if the hon. Member did not mean that he had no case against the Amendment. He denied altogether that the giving of reasonable conditions handicapped British shipping, because it was only by giving the best conditions and securing the safety of life on our ships that they could hope to get or retain the supremacy of the world in regard to shipping. Although he candidly admitted that speeches had been made which made him go into the Lobby in support of this Amendment with some little reluctance, he repudiated all such notions as those which would exclude; foreigners from our service, and he wanted the shipowners to have perfect liberty to engage foreigners. He thought however, that the hon. Member for Middlesbrough was only asking by this Amendment for equality of treatment between the workmen on a ship, and by supporting him he did not commit himself in the least degree to the policy of the exclusion of foreigners.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he could not follow his hon. friend the Member for Burnley into a discussion of the question whether the foreigner ought to be allowed to commit suicide by overloading his ship if he liked, but he would like the House to realise exactly what the effect of this Amendment would be. He did not think the hon. Member for Middlesbrough 167 concealed from the House what he intended, and he certainly did not conceal his intention from the Committee. He admitted that if they demanded an increase of accommodation for lascars on British ships it meant practically that they would prohibit the employment of lascars on all ships leaving British waters for the East. He wanted to confine them to the East, and he would like the House to consider twice before it inflicted this tremendous disability upon British shipping, more especially in view of the keen competition to which shipping was subjected at the present moment.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said the right hon. Gentleman was doing him an injustice. He had always contended that the Britisher was subject to as much competition as anybody else, but his point was that it was unfair to bring the lascar in to knock the Britisher out of employment with low wages and special treatment in regard to accommodation.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said his hon. friend was now dealing with another issue. Practically they had got to employ two lascars for every British sailor. That was what the Committee found, and they had in the Appendices to the Report several cases where they did employ. practically, two lascars for every Englishman. If they had 120 feet for a British sailor it would mean 240 feet for every two lascars as far as British shipping was concerned, and under that state of things British ships could not employ lascars at all. The object of this Amendment was to exclude lascars from employment in British ships altogether. The hon. Member's Amendment meant that they could employ lascars in Oriental waters with 72 feet of air space accommodation, but that was exactly where the lascars wanted 120 feet. In the Red Sea. for instance, where they wanted as much air as they possibly could get, the lascar, under this Amendment, was to have 72 feet, but when he came to our temperate climate, where they generally wanted to huddle together for warmth, they insisted upon their getting 120 feet. That was what he should call compulsory bronchitis. Let them see how it would work. It was a proposal which was ludicrous in itself. He could 168 understand an Amendment saying "you shall not employ lascars in British ships," but to ask the House of Commons to carry this Amendment seemed to him to be really trifling with the common sense of the House. It meant that the lascar was to be absolutely free in the East, but the moment he came to Suez every lascar belonging to the crew was to be discharged, and a British crew taken on. Now. where were they going to get a fresh crew? If they wanted to kill British shipping altogether he thought this was the best way they could do it. They were at the present moment subject to the keenest competition, and the Germans were making a very special effort in regard to the shipping industry, and he was not sure that they were not subsidised. At any rate he knew that they were making a colossal effort, and if the lascar was excluded from British ships the House would be making a most handsome present to German shipping. If that was what the House of Commons wanted to do this was the opportunity, and no better opportunity had ever been afforded for that purpose. He should like to ask the hon. Member if the lascars had ever asked for this extra accommodation. On the contrary, he knew that they had protested against it for very good reasons, because they knew that if such an Amendment as this were carried it would exclude them from service on British ships, where they were much better off than they would be at home.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that at any rate he was now talking with a full sense of his responsibility. This was a very serious problem, because if we began to meddle unduly with our finest industry it would be a very sad day for this country. He asserted that the lascars were better paid, and had better accommodation than they could get in their own homes. What was more, they petitioned the House against such a proposal some time ago, and he had another petition from them in which they stated that they would not like to exchange the sweet 169 fresh air which came into their forecastle for the air in any town or city. They said that on board ship there were no drains, sewers, graveyards, pigstyes, and no carpets filled with dust, and, what was more, they claimed that they were their own municipal officers. They also said in their petition that the vessels in which they sailed were like palaces, and their quarters were far superior to what they could hope to obtain for themselves on land, because they had a living room, a bedroom, and a kitchen, all rolled into one. But hon. Members came to the House and said "give them 120 feet of air space." Not a single lascar had asked for it. Why were the lascars to be confined to the Indian Ocean? They had as much right here as we had in India, and a very much better right too. We had practically destroyed the industry of the lascars, who used to have the coasting trade of India, which was now done by British ships Was it fair that a House in which they were not represented should allow 40,000 of these people to starve, as might be the result of this Amendment?
§ MR. BARNES (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
said in spite of the positive and emphatic speech of the President of the Board of Trade he went with the hon. Member for Middlesbrough in favour of this Amendment, which, in his opinion, was eminently reasonable. He regarded the Amendment from the point of view of getting for the lascar the same advantages from the hygienic point of view as were enjoyed by Britishers. His view was that if he was brought into these latitudes he should have the same amount of air space as English seamen had. That was a fair proposition which involved the necessity of those who rejected it showing good cause against it. One hon. Member seemed to claim that the Almighty had entered into some kind of arrangement whereby lascars required less air than Britishers. He did not agree. It was also said that the lascars did not want this and had not asked for it, but if hon. Members looked back upon the industrial history of this country they would find that that class of argument had been used with regard to all the Factory Acts of the last fifty years. All those Acts, which had benefited not only the factory operatives, but, by making them more 170 efficient, had benefited the whole community, were all petitioned against in the same way as this proposal had been. The hon. Member for Dulwich no doubt thought his argument was convincing, but he (Mr. Barnes) took the. opposite view. He thought if shipowners brought men into this country in association with English seamen the conditions he imposed upon them should be such as to conduce not only to their health but to the health of all those brought in contact with them. That, he thought, was a convincing argument in favour of this Amendment. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to leave this matter in the hands of hon. Members, in which case he believed the decision of the House would be in favour of the Amendment.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said the hon. Member for Burnley was quite unable to make a speech on this topic without an attack on Members of the Opposition whom he accused of desiring the exclusion of foreigners from British ships. There had been no such argument put forward. The proposition that everything legitimate should be done to encourage the employment of British seamen on British ships was a wholly different thing. But The hon. Member for Dulwich had admirably disposed of the protectionist argument by his lucid exposition of the fundamental principles on which free trade rested. The hygienic argument rested on an allegation of Dr. Collingridge, who did not like the smell of the lascars, and on a statement that in 1905 some seventy lascars died of diseases of the respiratory organs. But it was stated in evidence before the Mercancile Marine Committee that from 40,000 to 60,000 lascars were employed in our shipping, and that the death rate among them was lower than among European seamen engaged in the mercantile marine. It was said they must protect the weak. He was always receiving new instruction in the principles of democracy from this interesting Parliament. Here were large numbers of able-bodied working men, on whom certain Members would confer the franchise in India, saying in the strongest way they could that they did not desire what was asked for them, and that it would be contrary to 171 their habits and would greatly handicap them in earning their livelihood; but all this was to be set aside because the hon. Member for Middlesbrough knew better what was good for them. He should support the Government in the view that any grandmotherly interference with the shipping trade of this country was a thing not to be encouraged unless there was really some substantial reason behind it.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
said alarm had been created in his mind by the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. If his memory served him aright, the right hon. Gentleman was a melancholy example of the proverb that "evil communications corrupt good manners." His speeches, he believed, were in a very different tone when he sat on the Opposition side of the House. During the course of his speech on the present occasion, however, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it would curtail the employment of lascars, and then he went on to picture—what he would not like to see personally—the decline and fall of the shipping trade of Great Britain, if anything were done to give the lascar equal accommodation with the British seaman. Were they to understand that the supremacy of British shipping rested upon the injustice inflicted upon the lascar, and that the commercial enterprise of gentlemen who so ably represented the shipping industry counted for nothing? Were they to understand that the shipping trade must be kept up and maintain its supremacy irrespective of the claims either of decency or of health? He could put no other construction upon the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. What became of those eloquent speeches the right hon. Gentleman had delivered relative to cheap labour in another quarter of the Empire? When it was a question of introducing cheap labour to save an industry in a new part of the Empire the right hon. Gentleman waxed eloquent with indignation against the mere thought of allowing capitalists to use cheap labour for their own profit against those persons who had suffered, and some of whose friends had died, for 172 the interest of the Empire. Were they to take it as a new doctrine of Liberalism that the end justified the means? The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow had given an instance of the sort of evidence that had been brought forward, and upon which the right hon. Gentleman rested his case. Hon. Members below the gangway on that side knew what means were used by interested persons against those whom they employed to get them to do their bidding. They knew from historical records and from what happened to-day that when men wanted to get Parliamentary evidence pressure was employed, and that pressure had very often a powerful effect in getting those people to do things which they would conscientiously object to do if their bread and butter were not jeopardised. He appealed to the President of the Board of Trade in the interests of his own good name—in the interests of his former self, as well as in the interests of the health of the sailors of this country—that he should leave this an open question, and allow hon. Members to vote as they thought fit. It had not yet been seriously disputed that lack of accommodation tended to disease among Britishers, lascars, and indeed any members of the human race. The claim that lascars should have the same cubic space as Britishers was not only one in the interests of the lascars themselves, but in the interests of the British public as well. He had yet to learn that lascars when in our ports were quarantined during their sojourn here. In Liverpool lascars were allowed to roam freely in the crowded streets. He was not saying that they should not do so, but he was trying to point out that if they were going to permit these men. by the lack of cubic space on board ship to jeopardise their own health, and then mix freely with the British public, it was creating another evil. The hon. Member for East Marylebone had stated that his reading of the medical evidence was based upon the assumption that the medical officer of health naturally had a dislike to the smell——
§ MR. SEDDON
said he drew another inference from the reason given. He thought the doctor had more interest in health and hygiene than resentment against lascars; and, as he read the evidence, the doctor asked for more cubic space primarily in the interest of human health, and he incidentally called attention to the smell that came from the lascar. On these grounds he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman for the sake of his former reputation—for which many of them had a great regard—to leave this an open question, so that those who felt that the lascar was a human being, and had an equal right to as much space as any other man, could vote according to their consciences, and then he thought the Amendment would stand a good chance of being carried.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
said he certainly would have voted for this Amendment if it had provided that lascar seamen should have the same amount of space as was appropriated to the use of Europeans. But as the Amendment was drawn he ventured to say it had a purely nonsensical character, inasmuch as it did not require that the same amount of space should be given to the lascars in the tropics. On many occasions when he had crossed the tropics he had observed that, owing to the limited amount of deck space, where there was a large number of third class passengers, lascars had to go below. If it were necessary in the interest of health that Europeans should have 120 cubic feet, he could not for the life of him see why a lascar should only have seventy-two feet. If the hon. Gentleman would alter his Amendment by omitting the restrictions relating to the tropics, and say that every man should have the same amount of space, he would be prepared to support the Amendment, but in its present form he should certainly not vote for or against it. The remarks of the hon. Member for Burnley that he considered the proposals of the President of the Board came dangerously near to protection, seemed to him to be carrying the arguments in regard to protection to a ridiculous length. If British ships came to these ports and the British shipowner had to 174 conform to certain regulations, surely it was only equitable that a foreigner coming to our ports should have to do likewise.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said it was impossible for him to accede to his hon. friend's request, because if they were to put in the Bill that the lascars under all circumstances were to have 120 feet of space, it would deny the lascars employment in tropical climates, and that was a thing he did not want to do.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER
hoped the President of the Board of Trade would not take to heart too much what the hon. Gentleman for the Newton Division had said, but that on the contrary he would maintain the traditions of his office. He would like to compliment the right hon. Gentleman on his speech which showed such an imperialistic spirit. There was no doubt whatever that the Amendment was simply intended to make it impossible for shipowners hereafter to employ lascars in the trade in which they were now being employed. On this point he would like to say a few words. Some hon. Members perhaps might think he was personally interested in this matter, but he would like to say that these lascars were only employed by liners, and that he was not interested in any liners, and had not a farthing of interest in the question, as a shipowner; but he knew as a fact that if it were made impossible hereafter to employ these lascars, the result would be that German ships would take the place of British ships. It could not possibly be the intention of any hon. Member to limit the employment of British traders, but that would be the result unquestionably if this Amendment were carried, and, therefore, in the interests of British seamen, he pleaded that no Amendment of this sort should be passed. He hoped that what had been said would convince the House that the Amendment was not one which would benefit even British sailors. He could quite understand that, situated as the hon. Member was, he would like to do them 175 good, but the proposal would really damage the people the hon. Member represented and in the long run injure the interests of the British sailor.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 248; Noes, 105. (Division List No. 411.)177
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Courthope, G. Loyd||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Acland, Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F||Cox, Harold||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Crombie, John William||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Ashley, W. W.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Lambert, George|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Lamont, Norman|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Balcarres, Lord||Delany, William||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Barker, John||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset)||Duckworth, James||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govn)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Beale, W. P.||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Erskine, David C.||Lough, Thomas|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lupton, Arnold|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Everett, R. Lacey||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Faber, George Denison (York)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Fell, Arthur||Maclean, Donald|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Ferens, T. R.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||M'Crae, George|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Billson, Alfred||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire)||Findlay, Alexander||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Forster, Henry William||Marnham, F. J.|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Massie, J.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fuller, John Michael F.||Menzies, Walter|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fullerton, Hugh||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Branch, James||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Brigg, John||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Mond, A.|
|Bright, J. A.||Glendinning, R. G.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Gordon, Sir W. Evans-(T'r Ham.||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Brooke, Stopford||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberdeen)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Myer, Horatio|
|Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Napier, T. B.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Newnes, R. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gulland, John W.||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hamilton, Marquess of||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Cairns, Robert||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Cameron, Robert||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Harwood, George||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Haslam, Lewis (Momnouth)||Partington, Oswald|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Heaton, John Henniker||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Cave, George||Hedges, A. Paget||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W.||Helmsley, Viscount||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Henry, Charles S.||Priestley, W.E.B.(Bradford, E.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Radford, G. H.|
|Chance, Frederick William||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hills, J. W.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hobart, Sir Robert||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Clough, William||Horniman, Emslie John||Rees, J. D.|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Hunt, Rowland||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hyde, Clarendon||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Corbett, CH. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Cory, Clifford John||Jackson, R. S.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jardine, Sir J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd)|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Sutherland, J. E.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Rogers, F. E. Newman||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Thomas. Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Tillett, Louis John||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Tomkinson, James||Williamson, A.|
|Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Toulmin, George||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Sears, J. E.||Valentia, Viscount||Wilson, Hon. C.H.W.(Hull. W.)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hn. T. (Hawick B.)||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, Henry J. (York. W. R.)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Winfrey, R.|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wallace, Robert||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Walters, John Tudor||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Waterlow, D. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Stuart, James (Sunderland)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Higham, John Sharp||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hogan, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford,)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.||Hudson, Walter||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Jenkins, J.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Richardson, A.|
|Bell, Richard||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jowett, F. W.||Rowlands, J.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Joyce, Michael||Rutherford, V. H (Brentford)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Kelley, George D.||Seddon, J.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Shackleton, David James|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lundon, W.||Snowden, P.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Crooks, William||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Cross, Alexander||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Dillon, John||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Summerbell, T.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||M'Killop, W.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Maddison, Frederick||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Meagher, Michael||Vivian, Henry|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Mooney, J. J.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Murphy, John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Nicholls, George||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Nolan, Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley(Southampton)|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid)||Wardle, George J.|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glover, Thomas||O'Dowd, John||Young, Samuel|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Hall, Frederick||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Havelock Wilson and Mr. Brace.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Malley, William|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||O'Shee, James John|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Parker, James (Halifax)|
Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER
rose to move an Amendment to provide that Clause 58 should not come into force till the first day of July, 1908.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he had an Amendment on the Paper later on which he hoped would meet the hon. Member's wish. It was that the Act 178 should not come into operation till 1st June, 1907.
MR. HAVELOCK WILSON moved to add to Clause 59 a provision that—
Where a seaman who has been lawfully engaged and has received under his agreement an advance note after negotiating his advance note, wilfully or through misconduct fails to join his ship or deserts therefrom before the note becomes payable, he shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, at the discretion of the Court, to imprisonment for not exceeding twenty-one days, but nothing in this section shall take away or limit any remedy by action or by summary procedure before justices which any person would otherwise have in respect of the negotiation of the advance note or which an owner or master would otherwise have for breach of contract.
He thought this was a very necessary addition to the clause, and he hoped the President of the Board of Trade would accept it. The shipowners and the members of the Sailors' and Firemen's Union were in agreement that there was a class of men in our seaport towns who were "dry-land sailors." They very seldom went to sea except to escape the police. Occasionally they might take a vogage, but usually they hung about the Mercantile Marine Office trying to rob the men who had just been discharged from their ships. Those men engaged sometimes on a ship for a voyage, got an advance note, cashed it, and then did not turn up when the ship was about to sail. That was a very serious injury to honest, respectable men, and he thought that it was in the interest of both shipowners and seamen that there should be a clause of the kind which he proposed to compel a man who entered into an agreement to fulfil that agreement. The class of men he wanted to get at were the fellows who deliberately made a practice of entering into an agreement, obtaining an advance note, and then not turning up. He believed that between £200,000 and £300,000 was lost every year in the seaports in the United Kingdom by people who had cashed advance notes to that class of men. But the most serious thing resulting from these men not fulfilling their contracts was that when a ship was about to sail, the captain had to take on board what were called "pier head jumpers." On a Departmental Committee which sat on this matter, the shipowners and he were in agreement. He believed that if the
President of the Board of Trade would accept his Amendment it would be a means of checking these "turnpike sailors," and the sooner they got rid of them the better it would be for the mercantile marine. Shipowners sometimes spoke about sailors getting drunk and not joining their ship. It was the "turnpike sailor" who was responsible for that. Of course a man might miss his vessel by misfortune, or by failing to catch a train, but he had the opportunity of explaining that before the magistrate, and he was sure that no magistrate would convict a man if he could give a reasonable excuse for failing to join his ship. This matter had been discussed by the Sailors' and Firemen's Union, which had approved of the clause, and he hoped that his hon. friend would have no hesitation in accepting it.
In page 29, line 41, at end, to add the words ' Where a seaman who has been lawfully engaged and has received under his agreement an advance note, after negotiating his advance note wilfully or through misconduct fails to join his ship or deserts therefrom before the note becomes payable, he shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for not exceeding twenty-one days, but nothing in this section shall take away or limit any remedy by action or by summary procedure before justices which any person would otherwise have in the respect of the negotiation of the advance note, or which an owner or master would otherwise have for breach of contract."—(Mr. Havelock Wilson.)
In page 31, line 10, to leave out the words ' of owners' liability.'" (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
In page 31, line 11, after the word ' Acts,' to insert the words ' of the liability of owners of ships, docks, or canals, and of harbour authorities, and conservancy authorities.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
In page 33, line 4, after the word ' kingdom,' to insert the words from any port out of the United Kingdom '."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Amendments agreed to.181
In page 33, line 34, at end, to insert the words ' (2) The Board of Trade shall annually lay before both Houses of Parliament a special Report stating the cases in which they have exercised their powers under this section during the preceding year, and the grounds upon which they have acted in each case."'— (Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Does not this clause give a very large dispensing power to the Board of Trade?
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said he had an Amendment to propose to follow that of the President of the Board of Trade, just adopted. He maintained that the powers thereby given to the President of the Board of Trade and his colleagues were altogether too wide, and he proposed to add the proviso—No exemption from specified requirements contained in or prescribed in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Acts, shall dispense with the observance of any such requirements unless sanction of Parliament has been obtained by Order in Council, and such Order to lie upon the Table of the House of Commons at least thirty days."'He could well believe that they might have a President of the Board of Trade who was not quite as sympathetic as the right hon. Gentleman, and who might take it into his head to suspend some section of the Merchant Shipping Act for the benefit of his friends. He was not satisfied as to the alterations which had been made by a Departmental Committee in the load line. The public did not know who constituted that Committee; but he was informed that by the alteration made in the load line the shipowners were able to carry about 2,000,000 tons more cargo than before. [Cries of "No, no."] He did not know how many ships we had. but he knew that in consequence of this change of free board many vessels were able to carry between 400 and 500 tons more of cargo than before. He wished to ensure that what happened in regard to the load line should not happen in this case through entrusting the Department with the right to make 182 any departure from the Act without the consent of the House of Commons. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman would argue that there must be some elasticity and that they could not wait till the House of Commons changed the law. But his proposition was that before they altered the law the House of Commons ought to know something about it. He did not wish to say anything against the Board of Trade in regard to this dispensing power, but he thought the House of Commons ought to know something about it before it was exercised. By the provisions of the Bill the Board of Trade claimed power to exempt any ship from the whole of the clauses of the Merchant Shipping Acts, including the clauses which dealt with matters concerning life and limb. He did not think it was a wise thing to entrust such a power to a Department, and he said this with all due deference to the Permanent Secretary, the Under Secretaries, and the other valuable officials of the Board of Trade. It was one of the best Departments we had, but he was not prepared as a Member of that House to consent to any Department having the right to suspend an Act of Parliament or dispense with an Act of Parliament without the matter first being brought under the notice of the House. He therefore proposed in his Amendment that if they sought such powers they should be embodied in an Order in Council which should lie upon the Table of the House for at least thirty days. He did not think that was unreasonable, and he thought his shipowning friends ought to support it. They might at some time get a Labour President of the Board of Trade, with some very extravagant views, and if he were to suspend the Act without coming to the House of Commons the shipowners would come down in a body and want to know how it was that the House of Commons had no knowledge of what had happened. Their attention would then be called to the fact that the President would be acting under this dispensing power.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL
seconded, and said he sympathised with the view of the hon. Member in regard to what had happened in respect to the load line, and thought that if they were going to have 183 a repetition of such action the House ought to exercise some authority. He had himself been appealed to for information as to how the alteration of the load line came about, but he had been unable to tell people how it happened because he did not know at the time. If there was a possibility of a similar occurrence in regard to the Merchant Shipping Acts he thought they ought to lay down regulations to prevent it.
In page 33, line 34, at end, to add, 'No exemption from specified requirements contained in or prescribed in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Acts, shall dispense with the observance of any such requirements unless sanction of Parliament has been obtained by Order in Council, and such Order to lie upon the Table of the House of Commons at least thirty days'.'"—(Mr. Havelock Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the question of the load line had nothing whatever to do with the dispensing power of the Board of Trade in regard to the Merchant Shipping Acts, but what was done was under the load line section which gave power to revise. He could not help thinking his hon. friends had not read the section before making up their minds to press the Amendment. It seemed to be imagined that a general power was given to the Board of Trade to dispense with the powers and provisions of an Act of Parliament. That was not the case. The clause merely provided that in a particular case where special circumstances rendered it necessary the Board should be enabled to dispense with some of the provisions of the Act on condition that something else was done as effective as or more effective than literal compliance with the Act, That condition, he thought, furnished an ample guarantee. When the dispensing power was exercised a full report would be laid on the Table of the House, and the House could challenge the conduct of the Board, but it would be unreasonable to ask the Board to wait forty or fifty days before exercising their dispensing power in each case.
§ MR. C. DUNCAN (Barrow-in-Furness)
said it seemed to him that the Presi- 184 dent of the Board of Trade had in no way met the Amendment or the speech of the hon. Member for Middlesbrough. The hon. Member asked for an Order in Council which should lie on the Table for thirty days. Did the President of the Board of Trade wish them to assume that any great change was going to be made in the shipping industry in regard to which there would be any hardship in imposing such a condition? If one looked at the words of the section carefully it appeared that the Board of Trade might exempt "any" ship, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Middlesbrough that there was some danger, because "any" ship meant "every" ship. Therefore he thought that the limitation that the hon. Member suggested was an eminently reasonable one, because the exception might some day become the rule, and inasmuch as there was some slight suspicion as to the nature of the exemptions or alterations to be made, it seemed to him that nothing could be lost by this reasonable Amendment which would simply enable any alteration to be challenged by the House. It was provided that the Board of Trade might make an alteration if it was satisfied, but what about the House of Commons? Surely the House of Commons ought to be satisfied before alterations were made.
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
thought that the last speaker had exaggerated the scope of the clause. Any action taken by the Board of Trade under this clause which amounted to their dispensing with the general provisions of the Acts, would be clearly contradictory to the general provisions of the clause, and he was sure that no such action would be taken. He should like, while generally supporting this dispensing power, to give an emphatic denial in regard to the alleged increase of tonnage in the mercantile marine owing to the changes that had been made in the freeboard rules. These statements were made very carelessly. The hon. Member said that the mercantile marine tonnage would be increased by one-fifth, or 2,000,000 tons, under these rules.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said he meant that during the course of the year 2,000,000 tons more cargo would 185 be carried in consequence of the alterations.
§ * MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
thought that 2,000,000 tons was an over-estimate of the increase in the mercantile marine net tonnage; 300,000 tons would be the outside figure.
§ * MR. CAIRNS
said that if he regarded the powers to be vested in the Board of Trade from the same point of view as that from which they were regarded by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, he would have joined him in supporting this Amendment. He thought that after the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman that the load line did not come under this provision, the clause might be accepted. He had himself put an Amendment down in Committee to meet an exceptional case, but he withdrew it upon the explanation of the President of the Board of Trade that the present clause gave the Board of Trade discretionary powers to deal with the matter.
§ MR. CLYNES (Manchester, N.E.)
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would explain what the purpose was of this dispensing power. Was it to be used in the case of any ship, because that meant every ship?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that if in a particular ease the master could not get at the moment every article required by the schedule, and he came to the Board of Trade and said "we can not give you this, but we can give this which is much better," it was obvious that they could not wait for forty days while the Order in Council was considered by the House. It was for that reason these powers were required.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said it was to the advantage of everybody that the Board of Trade should have power to meet such a case as that which the right hon. Gentleman had just indicated. He pointed out that a sufficient safeguard was to be found in the fact that if an exception was made somebody would be bound to hear of it, and the adjournment of the House could be moved, and if the exception was not in accordance with the general ideas of i the House the matter would be put right.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.186
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER moved to leave out from Clause 71, "may if they think fit," and to insert "shall." He thought the House would at once see that it was eminently desirable that this should be agreed to in order to avoid passing legislation that had not been fully considered. He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had been desirous of meeting the views of the shipowners and the sailors, but in the future there might be Presidents of the Board of Trade who wore not so anxious as the right hon. Gentleman to assist them. He thought it desirable, therefore, to say that the Board of Trade, under this Bill, should be required to have advisory committees if it was thought to be in anybody's interest to have them.
In page 33, line 35 to leave out the words 'may if they think fit,' and to insert the word 'shall.'"—(Sir Robert Ropner.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he could not possibly accept the Amendment. It would amount to setting up a statutory committee without any responsibility to Parliament, but with power to override the Board of Trade. That would be a very serious innovation.
§ Amendment negatived.
In page 36, line 6, to leave out the word 'January,' and insert the word 'June.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'January ' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the meaning was simple. When the Bill was brought in it was supposed that it would have been passed by August. It was obvious now that it could not be passed before January.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Proposed word there inserted.187
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
, in moving an Amendment to the schedule setting forth the scale of provisions, to provide that the salt beef should be issued exclusive of bone, said that if hon. Members could see some of the meat put on board some of the ships they would be in favour of the Amendment.
In page 37, column 5, after the word 'beef,' to insert the words '(weight exclusive of bone).'"—(Mr. Havelock Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ * MR. KEARLEY
said the schedule had been drawn up on the assumption that the meat would contain a small proportion of bone.
And, it being a quarter past Eight of the clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, Further
§ Proceeding was postponed without Question put.