HC Deb 07 July 1914 vol 64 cc875-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the proportion of white deck-hands and stewards carried on the steamships of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which carry His Majesty's mails to and from India, and upon the ships of the Norddeutscher-Lloyd-Bremen Steamship Company, proceeding to and from India, respectively?


There is no information in the possession of the Board of Trade as regards the proportion of white deck-hands carried on the ships of the Norddeutscher-Lloyd Company, but if the Noble Lord will specify any particular vessels of the Company which he has in mind I shall be happy to see if the information can be obtained. As regards the Peninsular and Oriental Company's vessels, there appears, as the Noble Lord has already been informed, to be no fixed proportion of white seamen, but I understand that on a ship like the "Medina" the crew consists ordinarily of 347 persons, of whom 145 are Europeans and 202 natives, and that on the "Kashgar" the numbers are 53 and 139 respectively.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether periodical inspections are made by his Department of passenger steamers sailing under the British flag from this country as to their seaworthiness and the sufficiency of lifeboats carried in proportion to the number of passengers accommodated; and upon what date or dates the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's steamship "Arcadia" has been so inspected during the last year?


Passenger steamers which hold certificates issued by the Board of Trade, are thoroughly surveyed at least once in every twelve months. The same applies to other passenger steamers unless they hold passenger certificates issued by some Government whose certificates are recognised by the Board of Trade under the Merchant Shipping Acts. The "Arcadia" has a certificate granted by the Bombay Government which is recognised by the Board of Trade under an Order in Council, and it has not been surveyed here during the last year.


asked the Postmaster-General, if, in making contracts for the conveyance by sea of His Majesty's mails, any regard is had, in the case of steamship lines conveying the mails to the Far East, to the proportion of white men and Lascars, respectively, carried; and whether his Department makes any stipulation as to trade union or other rate of wages being paid to officers, seamen or firemen, and stokers?


The answers to both parts of the Noble Lord's question are in the negative. The Fair-Wages Resolution has never been considered applicable to contracts with steamship companies for the conveyance of mails, nor do I think it can properly be applied to them. Steamship companies like railway companies are mainly engaged in large commercial operations, and the conveyance of mails is no more than an incidental part of the general business of transport on which their labour is employed.


Do I understand, other things being equal, that they do not take into consideration the rate of wages paid and the conditions generally on board the steamship line to whom they are giving the contract?


No, what the Noble Lord is to understand is the answer I have given him. It deals with the facts quite plainly.


Am I to understand that you do not take into consideration how the men are paid?


If the Noble Lord will read the answer I have given when he gets it, he will understand the position perfectly.