HC Deb 09 June 1931 vol 253 cc803-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the crews of steamers at Craigendoran, owned by the London and North Eastern Railway Company, are required to work an 11-hour day, with overtime in addition; that in the steamer "Waverley" the seamen and firemen have been reduced by two; that in the steamer "Jeanie Deans" only one fireman is employed to attend a double-ended boiler with six fires, closed stokehold, and forced draught for 11 hours at a stretch; and whether he will inquire into the matter in order to provide for the safety of passengers and secure proper working conditions for the crew?


I have obtained a report on this matter from which it appears that the facts differ in certain respects from those stated in the question. The position is that the new vessel "Jeanie Deans" is not at present on any regular service but will shortly take up the service now carried on by the "Waverley," and the latter will be transferred to another service. The number of seamen on the "Waverley" has been reduced from six to five, and the number of firemen was experimentally reduced from five to three. As, however, the arrangements involved one fireman being on duty alone for part of each day, the owners have decided to increase the number of firemen to four and have arranged the conditions so that at no time while the ship is on service are less than two men employed in the stokehold. The same conditions will apply to the "Jeanie Deans" when she takes up service. The Board are satisfied that no question of safety arises as regards the manning of these vessels either on deck or in the stokehold.


If I satisfy the right hon. Gentleman that engineers, firemen in the stokehold and the crew are working 11 hours without any break, will he interfere and see that that is changed?


My hon. Friend knows that I am very anxious to do my best in regard to these matters, and certain improvements are represented in the reply that I have read. I can also give him information on the subsequent points which he has put.