HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc1993-5
17 Mr. B. SMITH

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether it is proposed to take action against the Black Sea Shipping and Mercantile Company, of 20, Eastcheap, London, owners of the steamship "Torontonian," under Section 5 (4) of the Alien Restriction Act; whether he is aware that, since 11th November, 1923, until the present time, the crews of the "Torontonian" have been signed on at Constantinople, Alexandria and Salonica; whether the Consuls at Galatz and Constantinople have stated in the official log that the crews who were engaged and signed fully understood the agreement; and, if so, as they were all aliens, if he will explain in what way the seamen were made to understand the agreement;

(2) whether he can furnish any particulars of the mutiny in the Rumanian port of Constanza of sailors on the British ship "Torontonian," managing owners, the Black Sea Shipping and Mercantile Company, Limited, of 20, Eastcheap, London; whether he has any official information showing that the crew, composed mainly of Russian refugees, threatened to murder the captain, take possession of the ship, and escape to Russia; and whether the crew were arrested at the instance of the British Consul, Mr. Tottenham Smith, and a new crew signed on;

(3) whether the steamship "Torontonian," port of register Newcastle, has a passenger licence; whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the ship is engaged regularly in transporting passengers from Constantinople to Russian ports and vice versa, who are rated on the articles at 1s. a month; what was the actual sum paid as passenger rates; whether, seeing that Section 5 (2) of the Aliens Restriction Act provides that no alien shall be employed on board a British ship registered in the United Kingdom at a rate of pay less than the standard rate of pay for the time being current on British ships for his rating, and that the average rate of pay for the crew of the "Torontonian" is only equal to £5 a month, he will state what action it is proposed to take to ensure that the correct standard of wages is paid?


The answer to these questions is rather long, and the hon. Member will, perhaps, agree to my circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

My attention had not previously been drawn to the case to which the hon. Member refers, and I am not yet in possession of full information regarding it. I find that crews were engaged for service in the steamship "Torontonian" at Constantinople on the 14th November, 1923, and on the 7th May, 1924, and at Salonica on the 24th October, 1924. The agreement for the first mentioned crew bears endorsements made at the British Consular Offices at Constantinople and Galatz, to the effect that the members of the crew engaged at those ports understood the terms of the agreement. The agreement with the second of these crews bears no such endorsement in respect of the men engaged at Constantinople, but it bears such an endorsement in respect of five men engaged subsequently at Marseilles. The agreement with the third crew has not yet been deposited with the Registrar-General of Shipping, the engagement presumably having not yet terminated. The ship has not a Board of Trade passenger certificate. As regards the wages of the crew, I am issuing instructions to the consular officers to inform the masters that the standard wages must be paid. I have no information on any of the other points raised in the question, but I am making inquiries and will communicate the result to the hon. Member.