HC Deb 29 April 1913 vol 52 cc998-9
61. Mr. PETO

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the Report of the official inquiry into the wreck of the British steamer "Calvados," of London, which sailed from Constantinople on 1st March last with a general cargo of cattle on deck, a crew of fourteen hands, and passengers exceeding 120 in number, the casualty being attended by loss of life; whether the court which investigated this disaster reports that the master is an Ottoman subject, holding an Ottoman certificate, there being no other certificated officer on board, the so-called first mate being purely a purser and the second mate a boatswain; whether the court has specially desired to direct the attention of the Board of Trade to the want of certificated officers on board a ship flying the British flag and to the fact that the court was unable to deal with the masters or mates of foreign nationality owing to ex-territorial jurisdiction at Constantinople where the investigation was held; and, if so, whether he proposes to take steps in ensuring that none but British subjects shall command or officer British ships, and that all British ships shall carry a sufficient complement of competent officers?


I am acquainted with the Report of the Naval Court held at Constantinople into the loss of the "Calvados," and it is now receiving careful consideration. The facts of the case are as stated in the question. As the hon. Member is aware, my right hon. Friend is considering, in conjunction with the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee, whether any changes are required in the Law relating to the number of certificated officers on British ships, but, as at present advised, he is not prepared to introduce legislation to require all such officers to be British subjects.


Does not the hon. Gentleman think it advisable that there should be at least some British officers on vessels flying the British flag?


The point is under consideration.


Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade can deal with this matter without legislation?


Possibly that is so.