§ 12. Mr. STEWART
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has received an application from the Mercantile Marine Service Association, dated the 22nd May last, inquiring if any obstacles are put in the way of British shipmasters or officers of the mercantile marine obtaining passports with a view to accepting positions on board vessels under the American flag for the duration of the War; and if any decision has yet been reached between the Foreign Office and the Admiralty, as the delay affects many mercantile officers whose ships have been torpedoed and who are consequently out of-employment?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of SHIPPING (Sir Leo Chiozza Money)
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. It is a fact that passports have been refused to a small number of officers of the British Mercantile Marine who desired to proceed to America for the purpose of obtaining employment in American ships. The decision to refuse such passports was reached in view of a statement by the American Government to the effect that they would not call upon British officers and engineers for service in American ships. It will be understood that with the prospective increase of British tonnage it is very undesirable that experienced British officers should leave this country, even to assist our Allies, if the latter are able to provide their own officers, as we are assured is the case.
§ Colonel YATE
Is it not a fact that a large number of Scandinavian merchant officers are taking these vacant places in America, and will the hon. Gentleman consider the question of giving our merchantmen employment and so retaining their services?
§ Sir L. CHIOZZA MONEY
I will certainly consider that suggestion. The hon. and gallant Member must realise that, in view of the prospective increase of tonnage which we anticipate will result, it is very undesirable to part with our officers at the present time. The position of the Scandinavian officers has no relevance to this matter.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Is this a sample of the emigration policy which is to be pursued by the Government after the War?
§ Sir L. CHIOZZA MONEY
It has no reference to any after-the-war policy. It simply has reference to the present time.