I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether it is a fact that the "Sidney Thomas," a steamer of over 2,500 tons, is trading under the British flag without properly qualified and certificated officers; whether in clearing from ports in the United Kingdom, a certificated chief officer is signed on the Articles in order to comply with the law, but on reaching a foreign port, is displaced by an uncertificated person; and, if so, whether His Majesty's Government intend to take any steps in preventing such an abuse of the British flag.
§ * THE SECRETARY TO THE BOARD of, TRADE (The Earl of DUDLEY)
My Lords, the facts of the case are, I believe, very much as my noble friend has stated them in his Question. With regard to the remedy, as I pointed out to my noble friend a week or ten days ago, the Merchant Shipping Act does not apply to a foreign country, and I am afraid therefore, we have no power at the Board of Trade to ensure that the provisions of that Act shall apply to ships trading between foreign ports. I understand, with reference to this particular ship, that, although she is registered in the name of a British subject, she in fact belongs to a Greek gentleman, who, when a certain mortgage is paid off, will transfer his vessel to the Greek flag.