§ Mr. WILLIAM THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, during the 12 months ending 30th June, 1909, over 570 Asiatic seamen are reported to have lost their lives from suicide, heat stroke, consumption, heart failure, beri-beri, and other causes while serving on British ships and, seeing that about 38,000 Asiatics are stated to be employed on British ships, which works out at a death rate of about 15 per 1,000; and whether, in view of this death rate amongst Asiatic seamen, he will appoint a Select Committee of the House to consider the whole question of the employment of Asiatics on British ships?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Returns relating to deaths of seamen during the 12 months ended June, 1909, have not yet been completely analysed, and I am, therefore, unable to say whether the figures stated in the question are correct. It appears, however, that the number of persons on Oriental articles of agreement who died in the previous year was 427, of whom 45 lost their lives by suicide, supposed suicide, or disappearance; 6 by heat stroke and heat apoplexy, 48 by consumption, 45 by heart disease, 68 by beriberi, and 216 by other causes. Compared with the number of persons employed on 1991 Oriental articles of agreement, as shown by the ordinary Shipping Return for 1907, these figures show a death rate of 9.8 per thousand. In addition to the deaths of persons on Oriental articles, the deaths of 86 other Asiatics were reported, but I am unable at present to say how many of such persons were employed or what was the death rate amnogst them. The death rate amongst foreigners, not including Lascars, in steamships (in which Asiatics are usually found) was 11.7 per thousand, and in sailing ships, in which few Asiatics are employed, 27.5 per thousand. The general death rate amongst British and foreign seamen, excluding Lascars, was 19.2 per thousand in sailing ships, 8.3 per thousand in steamers, and 9.7 per thousand in all vessels. The subject of the employment of Asiatics is receiving careful attention, but there is nothing in recent statistics of deaths of seamen that would jusify the appointment of a Select Committee of the House on the question.
§ Mr. REES
asked whether he can compare the death rate among Asiatic seamen while serving on British ships during the 12 months ending 30th June, 1909, from suicide, heat stroke, consumption, heart failure, beri-beri, and other causes, with the average death rate among Asiatics, however employed, in British India, and in any other Asiatic country for which statistics may be available, respectively?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
As the Returns relating to deaths of seamen in 1909 have not yet been analysed, and as the Indian statistics do not show deaths from specific causes, I regret that I am unable to make the comparison suggested in the question.