§ Mr. PENRY WILLIAMS
asked why the scale of provisions set out in the first; schedule to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, was not supplied, as required by Section 25 of that Act, to the twenty-four Chinamen engaged as the crew of the steamer "Strathbeg," of Glasgow, on 14th October, 1909, at the Mercantile Marine Office, Poplar; and by what authority the Board of Trade superintendent sanctioned an infringement of the Act by permitting a smaller and cheaper scale, called the Chinese provision scale, to be embodied in the agreement with the crew?
Sub-section (5) of Section 25 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, provides that the scale of provisions set out in the first schedule of the Act shall not apply in the case of lascars or natives of India or others not accustomed to a European dietary, with whom an agreement is entered into providing an adequate scale of provisions suited to their needs and uses. The scale of provisions sanctioned in the case of the steamship "Strathbeg" was, I am informed, that usually adopted for Chinese crews.
§ Mr. P. WILLIAMS
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that a scale of provisions which seriously diminishes the food of these men is adequate and suited to the needs of Chinese seamen?
I understand that the matter was very fully gone into, and that the dietary scale allowed is thought to be adequate.
§ Mr. P. WILLIAMS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he was aware that the steamer "Strathbeg" of Glasgow, engaged a crew of twenty-four Chinamen at the Mercantile Marine Office, Poplar, in October, 1909, that twenty-one of those Chinamen stated their birthplace to be Hong Kong, and that eighteen did not produce continuous discharge books; what evidence of birthplace, previous service on British or Foreign ships, and their efficiency as sailors and firemen was produced; and what steps were taken by the Board of Trade surveyor to test the seaworthiness of the ship, having regard to the composition of the crew?
I am aware that twenty-four Chinese seamen were engaged at the Mercantile Marine Office at Poplar, on the 14th October last, for the s.s. "Strathbeg," that twenty-one of them stated their place of birth to be Hong Kong, and that eighteen of them did not produce continuous discharge books. No evidence in proof of their statement of birthplace being produced, they were examined in regard to their knowledge of the English language and satisfied the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office that they possessed a sufficient knowledge of the English language to understand the necessary orders which might be given to them in the course of the performance of their duties. It was not necessary for the Superintendent to refer the case to the Board of Trade Surveyor.