HC Deb 06 August 1914 vol 65 cc2065-6
Mr. F. HALL (Dulwich)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the great difficulty experienced by merchants and shippers interested in cargo afloat on the declaration of war, he will give facilities for the insurance by the State Department of cargo in British steamers, notwithstanding the fact that the vessels were at sea on outbreak of hostilities; whether he is of opinion that the safety of British steamers will be increased by the fact of 80 per cent. of the value of hull and machinery being insured or reinsured by the State Office, and, if not, whether the Government will delete the Regulation that cargo will only be accepted where this condition is observed, as in the majority of cases shippers have no means of knowing whether the steamer has been insured under the Government scheme or not?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)

The Government are unable to accept proposals to insure cargo afloat, but the Advisory Committee have recommended that they should be empowered to treat cargo in a British ship at a port of call as though that port were the port of loading. The Government have accepted this proposal, which, I think, will go far towards removing the difficulty referred to in the first part of the question. If the hon. Member will refer to paragraph 79 of the Report of the Sub-committee of the Defence Committee on the insurance scheme, he will see the reasons which led that Committee to confine insurance of cargo to vessels insured by the State.