HC Deb 06 July 1908 vol 191 cc1257-8
MR. JOYCE (Limerick)

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to a trial at Glasgow on 15th May last, before the sheriff of the county of Lanark, in which a Clyde pilot was charged under the Merchant Shipping Acts and convicted of negligently navigating a ship he was piloting so as to cause an alleged risk of collision with H.M.S. "Harrier" and danger to the lives of those on board the vessels; whether he will take into consideration the exceptional circumstances (in particular that, although this matter involved the exercise of the best practical seamanship in its decision, it was decided by the sheriff, who did not possess any nautical knowledge whatever and was without assistance from anyone who had such knowledge, and that before the trial the pilot had been examined as to the occurrence by the Clyde Pilotage Board, by whom he was licensed, and had been exonerated from all blame in the matter); and whether he will, in view of the circumstances of the case and of the fact that the Criminal Appeal Act does not extend to Scotland, take steps to secure a reconsideration of the case, with the assistance of nautical assessors.


My attention has been drawn to the matter referred to by my hon. friend and it has received my best consideration. I am advised that a re-hearing of the case is not legally competent, and as to reduction of penalty I do not see my way to interfere.


Is the meaning of that Answer that a man can be tried under the law of the country by an incompetent authority and be refused a fair trial by a competent authority if he asks for it?


I do not accept that description.


I hope my friends the pilots will take cognisance of this and press the matter further.