HC Deb 23 March 1914 vol 60 cc34-5
68. Mr. JOYCE

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state under what circumstances the masters, neither of whom are British subjects, of the two Norwegian steamers "Norway" and "Scotland," and trading between Christiania and Grangemouth, have been authorised to apply for a pilotage certificate under the Pilotage Act, 1913, having regard to the fact that not only these two vessels, but all the vessels of the same class belonging to the same owners, and trading between the above-mentioned ports on the 1st day of June, 1906, were on such date not exempt from the obligation to carry a licensed pilot and had not habitually been piloted by a master or mate of the ship holding a pilotage certificate?


My hon. Friend is, I think, under some misapprehension as regards the facts of this case. Until the passage of the Pilotage Act, 1913, a vessel carrying passengers between a foreign port and a port in a non-compulsory district in the United Kingdom was not subject to compulsory pilotage, whereas one carrying passengers between two ports in the United Kingdom was so subject. This anomaly was removed by Section 11 of the Pilotage Act, 1913. It is not therefore the case as stated in the question that the steamships "Norway" and "Scotland," and ships of the same class trading between Christiania and Grangemouth were not exempt before 1st June, 1906, from the obligation to engage a pilot or to be piloted by a master or mate holding a pilotage certificate. The Board of Trade, however, distinctly warned the parties concerned that no pilotage certificate granted to a person not a British subject would be of any effect within any area in respect of which the Admiralty make an Order under Section 24 of the Pilotage Act on grounds of public safety. I understand that the Admiralty have now under consideration the question of making Orders under that Section.


Arising out of that answer, which I consider not at all satisfactory, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been called to the specific pledge given to us during the passage of the Pilotage Act by his predecessor that no such certificates should be granted to foreign masters or mates who did not hold such certificates prior to 1906?


I can assure my hon. Friend that the answer I have given him has been drafted, and I now give it, in the light of any pledge given by my predecessors.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has not been informed by his Department that the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman has just given is the interpretation put upon it by the late President of the Board of Trade and the former President, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and will he not recommend to the Admiralty to take into consideration these particular powers referred to?


The Admiralty are taking these particular powers into consideration as I said in my answer to the question.


May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman's reply does not directly contradict the promise made by his predecessor?


I have no reason to assume that.