HC Deb 17 February 1919 vol 112 cc548-9
49. Sir A. FELL

asked the Prime Minister if his attention hao been called to the fact that pilots' certificates for British waters issued to captains of foreign merchant ships have been suspended during the War, but are again being issued to aliens; that the countries to which these aliens belong grant no pilots' certificates for their waters to British captains; and if steps will be at once taken to cancel all such pilots' certificates to aliens and prevent their being issued or renewed or continued in any way, so that foreign ships may be compelled to carry British pilots in British waters?


The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to this question. I am informed that of the sixty-one pilotage certificates held by aliens at the outbreak of war thirty-seven, including all those held by Germans, have lapsed. Fresh certificates can only be issued to aliens under the strictly limited conditions contained in Section 24 of the Pilotage Act, 1913, and are always subject to the veto of the Admiralty on grounds of public safety. None are being issued at present, but the Board of Trade have no power to cancel the twenty-four certificates now held by aliens. In most countries pilotage is compulsory for all ships above a, certain tonnage, and the necessity for employing a pilot applies equally to all masters, national or alien—i.e., the pilotage certificate system does not exist at all.


Is it not a fact that the captains of some Dutch ships have had their pilot certificates renewed since the Armistice?


I should like to have notice of that. As I said before, the Board of Trade have no power to cancel certificates.