§ Mr. BRACE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the method of endorsing seamen's discharge books is the exclusive right of the Board of Trade and its authorised officials within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act; if so, whether he is aware that the shipping federation are marking continuous certificates of discharges with a rubber stamp; and will he take the necessary steps to have the practice discontinued?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Tennant)
Endorsements in seamen's discharge books are made by the masters of ships and by the Superintendents of Mercantile Marine Offices in accordance with the provisions of Sections 128 (1) and 129 (1) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. A continuous discharge certificate is the property of the seaman of whose service it constitutes a record. If the seaman belongs to a benefit fund, the rules of which require the stamping of his certificate, the Board have not raised any objection, provided that the stamp does not obliterate the statutory entries in the book and is made with the seaman's assent. The practice stated was sanctioned by the Board of Trade in 1900, 1204 and has been in force ever since. No information has been brought to the notice of the Board that would lead to the belief that it has resulted in any abuses which would justify me in withdrawing that sanction.