HC Deb 26 November 1941 vol 376 cc740-1
39. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether his attention has been called to the prosecution under the Merchant Shipping Act of six firemen at Cardiff; that in the men's defence it was stated they were unable to do their work because of a shortage of food and crew; that other complaints of a verminous forecastle, inadequate sleeping accommodation, faulty boilers, and inexperience in stokehold work were made; that the captain of the ship agreed there was a shortage of food; and whether he will take immediate steps to have the matter investigated?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Colonel Llewellin)

I have seen the reports of this case and am satisfied that, except that the ship's company was on hard tack for the last 24 hours owing to the abnormal time the voyage took, the allegations referred to have no substance.

Mr. Taylor

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there have been cases which have revealed flagrant hardships, and that in some instances the men have preferred to go to prison rather, than to pay the fines? Will he not have an investigation into those cases so that at least justice may appear to have been done?

Colonel Llewellin

No. Sir; these men were prosecuted because they had not kept up a head of steam and had not obeyed orders, by which action they endangered the ship in which they were sail- ing and the lives of their comrades. The facts were fully investigated by the stipendiary magistrate and sentences of imprisonment were passed.