HC Deb 20 April 1937 vol 322 cc1575-6
36. Miss Ward

asked the President of the Board of Trade what specific advantages officers and men in the mercantile marine now enjoy compared with 1914?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Dr. Burgin)

Substantial improvements have been made in conditions of employment at sea since 1914. Among the more important of these may be mentioned: considerable increases in rates of pay for both officers and men; the regulation of hours of work and the grant of railway fares on discharge to ratings; the grant of annual leave with pay to officers; and improvements in the standard of accommodation for both officers and men, particularly in ships built recently. Most of these improvements have been brought about by agreement between owners and seamen through the medium of the National Maritime Board, the successful working of which may perhaps be regarded as the greatest single benefit which the industry now enjoys as compared with 1914.

Miss Ward

Are these agreements compulsory on all companies?

Dr. Burgin

Perhaps the hon. Lady will put that question on the Paper.

Mr. Davidson

Why did not the hon. Gentleman include the new rest camp established for the mercantile marine outside Bilbao?

37. Miss Ward

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of officers and men employed in the mercantile marine in 1914 and in 1936, and the comparable rates of wages for officers, engineers, and crews?

Dr. Burgin

As the number of seamen employed on British ships is ascertained only when a census of seamen is taken I can only give the figures to the nearest available date. The numbers employed on sea-trading vessels registered at ports in the United Kingdom were 38,162 officers and 170,052 seamen on 3rd April, 1911, and 25,901 officers and 126,892 seamen on 15th June, 1935. There were no national rates of wages in 1914 and a convenient comparison between 1914 and 1936 is, therefore, impracticable. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the National Maritime Board Year Book for 1936, containing wage rates.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us how many of these are British sailors?

38. Miss Ward

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in order to ensure as good working conditions as possible in the Mercantile Marine, he will consider promoting an investigation into stoke-hole conditions?

Dr. Burgin

Consideration of working conditions in the stokehold is primarily a matter for the appropriate Panel of the National Maritime Board. I know of no ground for promoting a special investigation into them.

Viscountess Astor

If I brought cases to the hon. Gentleman's notice, would he consider them?

Dr. Burgin