§ 40. Mr. PETO
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to Schedule I. of the Navigation Bill, 1912, of the Commonwealth of Australia, now awaiting the Royal Assent, which specifies that steamships over 1,000 tons shall carry not less than three certificated officers; whether he is aware of the fact that what is styled the Three Watch Bill is now the law of the United States, making it compulsory that every vessel of 1,000 tons and over shall carry not less than three certificated officers, and that a system of three watches shall be followed in the case of these officers unless the vessel is engaged in a run of less than 400 miles from the port of departure to the port of final destination; and whether he can give any definite assurance that the Board of Trade intend to take similar steps for the purpose of eradicating the two-watch system now carried on in the great majority of British merchant ships, whereby the duties of officers are not less than fifteen hours per diem on every day in the week and where the mental and physical strain thus imposed upon them constitutes danger to life and property at sea?
I am aware of the legislation referred to. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member on 27th January last, the Board of Trade are now considering, in conjunction with the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee, the question of the Amendments which are desirable in the law relating to the number of certificated officers required to be carried upon British merchant ships. The matter is still before the Advisory Committee, and pending the receipt of their Report I am not in a position to make a statement on the subject.