§ 36. Mr. Walter Edwards
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that Government-owned coastal tankers up to Boo tons gross are carrying a master, one mate and another officer with the dual capacity of second mate and boatswain; that representations made to his Department on this inadequacy of officer personnel have been met with the reply that nothing can be done in the matter; and whether he will take steps to remedy this?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I have made inquiries, and I find to my regret that a misunderstanding has been caused by a mistake in a letter sent by my Ministry. In fact, there is no Government-owned tanker in the coasting trade in which an officer is serving in the dual capacity of mate and bosun. There are, however, same small coasting tankers on which only one mate is carried in addition to the master. This arrangement is in accordance with the agreement of the National Maritime Board which applies to vessels of under 1,000 tons displacement.
§ Mr. Edwards
Will my hon. Friend not bear in mind that representations in respect of these vessels have been made by the appropriate trade union, and that his Department have turned them down? This is very damaging to the war effort, on account of the extra strain being placed on personnel, and will he reconsider the position if the union makes another request?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I will consider anything. I am always glad to receive representatives of unions, but in the particular case which the officers' society brought to my attention I verified the position, and in my view there has been no overstrain on the officers concerned, as during the last three months the vessel has made only one short voyage every five days.