§ 1. Mr. Benjamin Smith
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the collision which took place in the North Sea between the oil tanker "Helka," owned by the Empire Steamship Company, and the German liner "Pretoria"; that the only British rating aboard the "Helka" was the wireless operator; that her master was a Latvian and the remainder were composed of foreigners; and what action will he take to see that all ships on the British register shall carry British crews?
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)
I am informed that the facts as to the composition of the crew of the steamship "Helka" were as stated in the question. Legislation requiring the universal employment of British officers and men in United Kingdom ships would not be likely to increase the employment of British officers and seamen, but would probably lead to the transfer of some ships from the register.
§ Mr. Stanley
I do not think that that is a fact, but there is an exception to this provision for ships which are trading completely abroad, and this ship was of that class.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am always ready to consider matters of that kind, and one of the things which I have to consider is that a ship on the British Register would, in an emergency, be liable to be taken over as a British ship.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is it not the duty of the Government to see that unemployed British seamen are given an opportunity of employment on British vessels?