116. Mr. T. WILSON
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the crew of His Majesty's ship "Moldavia" were signed on at Glasgow at the current rates of wages for that port; that on 23rd September the crew were mustered and asked to sign new articles at a reduction, in the case of stewards of 15s. per month; that it was intimated that those who refused would only remain until the ship reached port; whether the measurements of any of the men who refused were taken; and what steps it is proposed to take to prevent illegal pressure to break articles and to force men to accept reductions of wages under an implied threat that they will be handed to the military authorities?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The facts of the case are substantially as stated in the question, except that the majority of the crew were engaged in London in January, 1916. The agreement under which these men are engaged gives the Admiralty the option of discharging them at twenty-four hours' notice. There has been no pressure therefore to break the articles. The men who have been paid off refused to re-sign the articles at the standard rates that have been adopted by the 1312 Admiralty, and they have been discharged under the terms of their agreements. The Commanding Officer appears to have taken the measurements as stated. It may be pointed out, however, that such men are exempt from military service so long as they are employed in the mercantile marine, except as stewards in passenger steamers.