§ 65. Mr. HAYES
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware 2028 that Arab seamen were brought from Cardiff to Liverpool for the crew of the steamship "Benecia," owned by the Oriel Shipping Company, the articles of which were signed at Liverpool on 17th March last; whether the officers of his Department are instructed to take exception to this procedure in view of the several thousand unemployed seamen registering in Liverpool each week; and, if not, whether he will consider the taking of steps to prevent a recurrence of such action, which has caused considerable resentment among unemployed British seamen on the Merseyside?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Burton Chadwick)
I am informed that 12 Arab seamen brought from Cardiff were engaged for service on the steamship "Benicia" at Liverpool on 17th April. This is not contrary to law, and, so long as the provisions of the law are fully complied with, the Board of Trade have no power to forbid such engagements.
§ Mr. HAYES
May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he appreciates the intensity of the feeling of unemployed British seamen when Arabs are imported while there are 4,000 or 5,000 seamen unemployed, and the danger that may arise from racial feeling growing up, which everyone would deplore? Cannot his Department do something to get at grips with this question of employing British seamen on ships registered under the British flag?
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
I appreciate the feeling to width the hon. Member refers, but we are bound by the law: The Aliens Restriction Act requires that the captain, the chief officer and the chief engineer must be British, otherwise aliens may be employed, if they can pass the language test, provided they are paid wages which are the same as the Maritime Board wages. Beyond that the law does not allow the Board of Trade to intervene. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said just now he would confer with the Board of Trade on this matter, and I shall be very glad to talk it over with him.
§ Colonel DAY
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us the difference between the wages of Arab seamen and British seamen?
Mr. SANDEMAN ALLEN
Is it not a fact that in the case of certain ships going to tropical places it is necessary to have natives, and that this does not in any way affect the general principle of not employing aliens instead of British seamen?