§ 44. Mr. McKEAG
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the prosecutions which have recently taken place against the owners of foreign grain-carrying vessels, particularly those against the master of the Yugoslav steamer "Bakar," and the master of the Greek steamer "Anastassios Pateras," for failing to comply with the regulations governing the fitting of ships for the carrying of bulk grain; whether he is aware that the owners of these vessels prefer to pay the maximum fine of £100 rather than incur the £500 or more expense in properly fitting their vessels; and whether, in view of the fact that this practice adversely affects the owners of British grain-carrying vessels who do comply with the regulations, he will take steps to ensure that the regulations are not evaded by the owners of foreign ships?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
My attention has been called to the two cases to which the hon. Member refers. The maximum penalty under the Merchant Shipping Acts for failure to take the necessary precautions in loading any ship with a grain cargo is £300, or if dealt with summarily, £100. The action which is being taken under the present provisions of the law is securing a greater observance of the regulations but the situation will continue to be watched carefully.
§ Mr. McKEAG
Will not the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of increasing the maximum penalty which could be inflicted on owners of foreign vessels who have deliberately flouted these regulations to the disadvantage of British owners?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
When the Merchant Shipping Act comes up for review all these matters will be taken into account.