HC Deb 23 July 1918 vol 108 cc1644-5
65. Sir F. HALL

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consider as to arranging for the crews of neutral vessels entering the Clyde to leave their ships at Rothesay or some adjacent point, beyond which it is not desirable that they should proceed, having regard to the information that they might obtain with reference to shipping movements and naval and military matters, and for such crews to be accommodated in hulks fitted up for the purpose, or in some other way, and for the vessels to be manned temporarily by a crew of riggers and taken to the port of discharge and returned either light or loaded, and the neutral crews taken on board again; and, if this is done, whether he will consider as to charging the cost against the foreign owners, in view of the fact that the freights paid to them are higher than those paid to British owners, and that none of the profits made by them benefit British revenue in any way?


I have been asked to answer this question. The existing procedure is that no one is allowed to land from any ship trading with a neutral European port—not even the master. The feasibility of similar schemes to the one now suggested has been frequently and is now under consideration, not only for the Clyde, but for other places. But the difficulties are the provision of the necessary personnel, and the delay which would be caused to the shipping concerned. However, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the matter is always before the proper authorities, and all that can be done to safeguard the public interest is being and will be done. I have answered the body of the question, but the last part would seem to be a matter for the Board of Trade.


Has not the right hon. Gentleman previously stated, in reply to my questions, that the subject is under consideration, and does he not think it advisable that the consideration should be something on the lines indicated in the question forthwith?


My impression is that certain steps have been taken, but I will let my hon. and gallant Friend know.