HC Deb 29 June 1911 vol 27 cc563-4

asked the President if, in connection with the shipping dispute, the employers are engaging Chinese blacklegs; whether his Department are taking active steps to see that the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Acts with regard to the engaging of Chinese sailors are being strictly carried out; and how many Chinese crews have been taken on in the Bristol Channel ports within the last nine days?


The information in my possession does not enable me to answer the first part of my hon. Friend's question. The Board's officers are instructed to see that the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Acts in regard to the engagement of Chinese and other foreign sailors are strictly enforced. I am informed that four Chinese crews have been engaged for vessels lying at Bristol Channel ports within the nine days ending to-day.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the ship "Minneapolis" sailed this week, that fifty-eight Chinamen and a number of labourers engaged from Leeds were taken down to a training ship and shipped on board that vessel, and whether that is not in direct violation of the Merchant Shipping Act?


If the hon. Member will give me particulars I will at once inquire. If there is any violation of the law, I will take proper steps.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that another strike has broken out at Grimsby this morning affecting a large number of men, and will he use his good offices there in the same direction?


I need hardly say that the good offices of the Board of Trade are very much at the disposal of those interested in matters of dispute as they are at the present moment. I do not, however, think that the House would require me to give any details with regard to these matters. All I can say is that representations and suggestions have been made to me in various quarters to take action in this or that way. The action that the Board of Trade takes, and the most useful action, is that very often which is taken privately and not publicly; and if we do not announce what we are doing, I hope the House will not think that we are in any way backward in taking action wherever we think our good offices will be of any use.