HC Deb 02 April 1935 vol 300 cc188-90

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state the approximate numbers, respectively, of British-born seamen, seamen who are British subjects but not British-born, and alien seamen in the British mercantile marine?


The number of sea men employed in British ships is ascertained only at a date when a census of seamen is taken and the latest census at which any subdivision of British subjects was made is that relating to seamen employed on 26th April, 1931. I am circulating the particulars in the OFFICIAL REPORT, together with certain less detailed information obtained at the census taken on 15th June, 1933.

Brigadier-General NATION

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the next census is due?


I think that it is due about the middle of this year, but I am not quite sure.

Following are the particulars:

Seamen employed on the censal dates 26th April, 1931, and 15th June, 1933, on sea-trading vessels registered in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
April26th, 1931. June15th, 1933.
British subjects (other than lascars):
Born in the United Kingdom. 98,600 Not separately enumerated.
Born in other parts of the British Empire 9,387
"British" undefined, naturalised and natural born British subjects 811
Nationality not specified and born at sea 84
Total British seamen 108,882 96,916
Foreigners (other than lascars). 11,204 7,661
Lascars (British subjects and foreigners)* 49,125 42,475
Total seamen 169,211 147,052
* Information as to the nationality of lascars is not available.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many alien seamen and coloured seamen, respectively, have been signed on at British ports during the last 12 months?


The information available is as follows:

Engagements at ports in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the year ended 31st December last show:

Foreigners, other than Asiatics and Africans 6,724
Chinese 1,584
Arabs 3,101
Other Asiatics and Africans 4,722
The total number of engagements was 407, 472.

The figures relate to the number of engagements and not to individual seamen.


Does my right hon. Friend realise the great uneasiness and resentment that exists in the minds of British seamen when they see their jobs being taken by foreigners and coloured seamen, and will he direct attention to the matter?


Yes, Sir, some steps have been taken, and I have no doubt that more will be taken to increase the amount of employment of British seamen to the exclusion of others.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many in the figures given were subjects of the British Empire


No, Sir, I am afraid that I cannot; I am not sure that we have that sub-division.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is stated in the Press this morning that 1,000 naturalisation forms were handed out to foreign seamen yesterday in Cardiff, and, if I give him particulars, will he let me have an answer by Thursday, as I intend to take up the Matter?


I do not know that I could let the hon. Gentleman have an answer, but I shall be glad to have any particulars which he can send to me.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the decrease in the employment of foreign sailors is not so large as the decrease in the employment of British sailors in the last few years?


That is quite likely, because the number of British sailors is very much larger.


The percentage, I mean.