HL Deb 02 July 1903 vol 124 cc1129-45


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


Your Lordships will be fully aware from the Memorandum appended to this Bill that its object is to restrict the commanding and officering of British ships to British subjects, and also to put an end to the practice of granting certificates for British pilotage waters to aliens. Since I last introduced this measure, or a somewhat similar Bill, under the title of the "Certificates Bill," important developments have arisen which have more than ever convinced me—and which, I trust, will convince your Lordships—that the important principles which it embodies should now be accepted by the Legislature. It is, of course, not unusual for me to find that in my efforts to promote the interests of our merchant service as a whole—not only in regard to our mariners, but in regard to our shipowners—I meet with the stubborn opposition of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, and I do not presume that anything to the contrary will be the case this afternoon. I should like, however, with your Lordships' permission, to touch briefly on the arguments which were used by the then representative of the Board of Trade, my noble friend Lord Dudley, as against my previous efforts in connection with this measure.

Your Lordships were informed that this was the thin end of the wedge, and that the Bill meant protection pure and simple. But I do not for one moment consider that either protection or free trade can be considered in connection with what, after all, is the defence of our country, and the source of our supplies in case of future conflicts with other nations. If my noble friend Lord Dudley meant that the Bill was a protection for British captains and officers and to British ships carrying foodstuffs in time of war, I cordially agree with him. Your Lordships were told that it was a return to the old navigation laws which were repealed fifty years ago. We have gained a good deal of experience in that time, sufficient to know that some of those laws contained wise provisions. Shipowners, so far as I can gather, are unanimous as to the present Merchant Shipping Act being obsolete, even though I was informed by my noble friend that he did not think it could be legitimately argued or urged that clauses which Parliament had inserted in a Bill in 1894 had already become antiquated and out of date. As a matter of fact, however, the Merchant Shipping Acts were introduced about the year 1854, and the Act of 1894 is simply a consolidation of the Acts for the convenience of all concerned.

We were also informed that the Bill would be a source of inconvenience to British shipowners possessing vessels trading between foreign ports. My noble friend went on to point as an example to a British vessel trading between, say, Genoa and Brindisi, calling at the intermediate ports, showing how much more easy it would be for the shipowner to employ Italians, who would know the language and customs of the country. But, my Lords, it is a matter of common knowledge that no such trade could be carried on with a British vessel owing to the simple fact that, as with practically all other Maritime Powers, Italy reserves her coasting trade to her own vessels. We were also informed that the captains and officers of merchant vessels could not be drawn upon for Naval purposes in time of war; but it must not be forgotten that even our Navy was an offspring of our merchant service, and, as our men of the merchant service rendered yeoman service to their country in time of old, they are equally capable and ready now. Their magnificent work in the transport service is a perfectly sufficient illustration of this.

It may be argued that, as times have changed in the Navy, so also have they changed in our merchant service, which even yet is second to none for its magnificence and its efficiency. But I would ask what would be the effect on our merchant service were it denuded in time of war—as it most certainly would be—of the 25,000 men and 1,900 officers of the Royal Naval Reserve who serve in our merchant ships? I emphasise, what would be the effect, when already we have such an alarming percentage of foreigners in the service? I would also point to the 100 gentlemen of the Royal Navy who are on the supplementary list, and who, on the authority of a distinguished Member of this House, have proved an unqualified success. They have shown of what quality for naval purposes are our captains and officers of the mercantile marine. The Report of the Naval Reserves Committee states that— The Committee do not overlook the importance, both as regards naval and other considerations, of securing that as large a proportion as possible of the crews of merchant ships shall be of British nationality. and that— The mercantile marine is, and should continue to be, a valuable source from which to draw a portion of the Naval Reserve. and— The present mode of supplying a reserve of executive officers is satisfactory, except that a weeding of the list of Royal Naval Reserve Officers and an extension of numbers are required. Then, my Lords, there was advanced the argument of retaliation by other Powers. I think that is a most cowardly argument, and had it been used and acted upon in olden days England would never have been the Power she is. I would point out that the other Powers cannot retaliate, for they have long adopted the principles of the Bill now before your Lordships, and will have none to command and officer their ships but their own subjects. There they show their wisdom, but they have no Boards of Trade and no Marine Department of that body. It is not for other Powers to retaliate, but for the British Government to support and encourage our mercantile marine and to see that our seamen are not robbed of their birthright by foreigners. My noble friend, Lord Dudley, said that what your Lordships all desired to see would be the employment of as many British subjects as possible in British ships. I cordially agree, and this would be a step—an important step—in the right direction.

I hope to make my remarks in the briefest possible form, not desiring to unduly detain your Lordships. Therefore, with your permission, I will simply touch upon the principal important developments which have arisen since this Bill was last introduced into this House. I believe, from the latest official Returns, that there are 592 alien captains and officers in our merchant service. I will be told by my noble friend who represents the Board of Trade that the number has diminished since the issue of the previous Returns. I do not deny the fact, but with the great number of foreign seamen in our ships there may at any time be a large number obtaining certificates as masters or mates of British ships. Also there are certain signs of the times which undoubtedly point to the fact that, unless measures are now taken to prevent it, many aliens will eventually become certificated to act in British ships. I understand, on very excellent authority, that there are certain English ships, particularly those which have been in Continental ports, which now carry foreign apprentices, paying a premium for their training, and as some proof of this I might draw your attention to the Board of Trade Inquiry into the stranding of the "Foxglove," where it came out in evidence that she was carrying two foreign boys as apprentices. I have a letter here addressed by the manager of the Sailors' Home at one of our largest shipping ports to a British shipmaster, stating that the Danish Consul had asked him (the manager) to assist in getting three of his training-ship boys on board a British sailing vessel. I do not know whether it is the duty of a manager, such as I have mentioned, to co-operate in this way but I am not inclined to think that it is to the benefit of our own seamen.

There has been much talk about the Shipping Combine, and although the Government have, as they say, entered into an agreement requiring the ships of this American concern to carry British officers, it is just as well that we should not live in a fool's paradise. Therefore, I should like to call your attention to what Mr. Griscom, President of the American line, says about this International Mercantile Marine Company, as it is called. He says— If the President and Congress will meet the indisputable economic facts by legislation, it is not too late to hope that a fair portion of the steamers hereafter required by the new company will be built in the United States, manned and officered by Americans, and become part of the National Naval Reserve. Therefore, I say that, whilst it is a serious thing that no less than 592 aliens command and officer British ships to the exclusion of our own subjects, everything points at the present moment to a considerable increase of aliens obtaining British certificates. We have at present a Royal Commission deliberating upon the immigration of aliens into this country, and the serious consequence thereof. It is not for me to foretell what will be the result of their deliberations, although I do not think that there is much difference of opinion as to how this country suffers by reason of its being invaded by the scum of other nations.

From the Report of the Naval Reserves Committee it appears that in the year 1857 there were 96,914 petty officers and sailors British subjects; whilst in 1901 there were only 44,290, or a reduction of over 50 per cent. I find also that the percentage of foreigners in the foreign trade has increased from 20 per cent. in 1891 to 26 per cent. in 1901; whilst in foreign-going sailing vessels the percentage of foreign seamen went up from 39 per cent. in 1891 to 45 per cent. in 1896, and to no less than over 52 per cent. in 1901. These are alarming figures. With what I have paid in regard to a promised invasion of, for instance, Americans, as certificated captains and officers of British ships, it is somewhat significant that on the American Combine being initiated particulars are to hand as to the establishment of a nautical preparatory school conducted under the principles of the navigation laws of the United States She is to be a 3,000-ton vessel of the most advanced type of steel construction, with twenty-five officers. The number of pupils is to be limited to 250, and the object is distinctly to train up officers for service in vessels owned by Americans, in which, of course, may be included the American Combine. It is not a great stretch of the imagination to consider that these officers may supplant our own subjects in these ships in time to come, unless your Lordships take steps to prevent it now. All other maritime Powers, with the exception of Japan, stipulate that the executive of their ships shall consist solely of their own subjects, and I may say that even Japan would follow suit were it not that she has not an adequate supply to meet the demand of her ships; although I understand that in the largest merchant fleet belonging to Japan they have in each of their ships at least one Japanese officer.

Let me illustrate to your Lordships how the attitude of this country in the matter affects some of our most deserving subjects. It is not very long ago that the Scottish Oriental Steamship Company, Limited, with a fleet of fifteen steamers, was sold to the Germans. Within fourteen months, all the Britishers who had served for some considerable time in the fleet had notice to leave, and very shortly after they were wholly replaced by German subjects. Questioned before the Subsidies Committee as to the immediate effects of the transfer of a British Line, Mr. Norman Hill, Secretary to the Liverpool Steamship Owners' Association, referred to two lines carrying exclusively English captains and officers. He said— When the lines were taken over the Englishmen on board consisted of twenty-four captains, forty-eight officers, and seventy-two engineers. Of these, sixteen captains, forty-three officers, and fifty-eight engineers have been displaced by foreigners, and the owners of the vessels stated in their report that they hoped shortly that all the other Englishmen would be displaced. The percentage of aliens in our merchant service is no less than 26 per cent., and, therefore, there is no wonder that the President of the Board of Trade describes it as— A blot on the record of our merchant service, and a state of things which none of us could view with satisfaction. A percentage of 26 per cent. is sufficiently alarming in itself, but the condition of affairs is still worse when we know that it is principally in what are termed "tramp" steamers and sailing ships—which form by far the largest proportion of the service — that these foreigners exist. In most of our leading lines you will find the British seaman wholly and solely; but go to the "tramps" and sailing ships, and you will find that the percentage of foreigners amongst their crews would approximate, I am safe in saying, to considerably over 50 per cent. Many of our large steamers' crews are composed of Greeks, Arabs—in fact, of any but British seamen. A gentleman writes that he has been in conversation with one of the crew of a certain vessel, and was informed that the only Englishmen in the ship were the engineers and donkey men, the master, both officers, and all other members of the crew being aliens. I would also quote the following paragraph from a paper by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow, addressed to the Chairman of the Subsidies Committee— The directors take this opportunity of adverting to the fact that at present there is no security that ships flying the British flag are really British ships, as they may be owned and manned by foreigners, and they suggest that vessels flying the British flag should at least be officered by British subjects and have a preponderating British ownership. It is only a year or two back, when the proportion of foreigners was even less than it is now, that the then President of the Board of Trade ventilated his opinions in another place as follows:— Take, for instance, the question of war—the question of a war where the Naval Reserves were called out—that would be to deplete the British ships of British seamen, and instead of being partially manned by foreigners they would, under existing circumstances, be altogether manned by foreigners. That, I think, is a matter for very great regret, and if any suggestion can be made to remedy that state of things, or to endeavour to remedy that state of things, which the whole House regrets, then the House would do wrong not to consider any suggestion that might be made. I have read an important letter addressed to The Times by Admiral Sir John Hay, who, in speaking of the Navy, says— We have no doubt seamen and mariners of the finest quality in sufficient numbers to man our present ships, but we have absolutely no reserve, and the mercantile marine trains no men for the Navy beyond the Naval Reserve which would be wanted for the Navy on the opening of a naval campaign. The 50,000 foreigners whom our mercantile marine train would have to leave it on the outbreak of war, as subjects of belligerents or neutrals, and there are no British seamen to take their place. I feel, therefore, that I have sufficiently indicated to your Lordships, not merely by my own opinions, but by the statements of great authorities, the weight of which we cannot deny, the strength of my case. I say that the vessels upon which the food supplies of this country mainly depend—I refer to what are known as "tramp" vessels and sailing ships—are manned chiefly by aliens, and if we are to protect these food supplies it seems utter folly for us to allow the ships conveying them to be commanded and officered by aliens, who, whilst sailing under the protection of the British flag, could transfer to our enemies immense cargoes of, perhaps, grain, of which this country might be in dire need.

I have always had to contend with the strongest opposition on the part of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade to my efforts in connection with this Bill, and therefore I feel some degree of satisfaction when I know that His Majesty's Government have now practically adopted the principle of the Bill. After the flutter in the dove-cote which was caused by the transfer holus-bolus of great lines of British ships to American ownership, the Board of Trade were forced to realise—as usual, too late—what our shipping trade was likely to come to. We find the Government actually lending money for the construction of two new vessels for the Cunard Line, at an interest of 2¾ per cent. per annum, and from the time the new vessels commence to run the Government are to pay the Cunard Line at the rate of £150,000 per annum, instead of the present Admiralty subvention. Though there was really not very much cause for it in connection with the Cunard Line, which employs none but British subjects, His Majesty's Government, in their agreement, stipulate that the Company shall remain in every respect a British Company, managed by British directors, and—I emphasise this particularly at the moment—to be officered by British officers. We then turn to the agreement with the Atlantic Shipping Combine—it is called the "Atlantic Shipping Combine," although I may state, for your Lordships' information, that somewhere about 40 per cent. of the tonnage of this concern is employed in purely British trade between this country and her colonies. The agreement between His Majesty's Government and the Combine is to the effect that for thirty years every ship now flying the British flag, and that half the ships hereafter to be built for the Combination, shall continue to be British ships, and shall continue to fly the British flag; that they shall be officered by British officers, and manned in reasonable proportion by British crews.

Turning away for a moment from His Majesty's Government, I come to the Report of the Select Committee on Steamship Subsidies, wherein the following important recommendation is made— That on subsidised vessels the captain, officers, and a proportion of the crew ought to be British subjects. In my Bill I go a step farther than this in ensuring that, for instance, vessels carrying large quantities of food supplies for the country—such as "tramp" steamers and sailing ships—should also be officered by British subjects. Mr. W. R. Lawson, in a powerful article contributed to the Contemporary Review, says that— Apparently we have missed our chance of nationalising the railways of the country, but the merchant marine is still available; with better reason the nationalising idea may one day seize on it. We have at a single step—as shown in the Cunard agreement—advanced from our old Free Trade standpoint to the acceptance of special relations between the State and shipping companies. It is a pregnant idea and may be destined to influence strongly the commercial history of our generation. Admiral Sir E. R. Fremantle in an article contributed to the "National Review" refers to the White Star Line, one of the constituent parts of the Combine, being the great supporter of the Naval Reserve—and they deserve every commendation for it. Admiral Fremantle, however, shows that— Notwithstanding the pledges given by the White Star Line specially to the nation in making a point of manning their ships by the Naval Reserve, there does not appear to be any arrangement made as to their future. Yet it will be very hard on these men to be obliged to choose between their nationality and Naval Reserve retainer and become American citizens, or be thrown out of employment and probably ruined, if they remain British subjects. How little of patriotism—'of the public good, the good of others'—lies in this neglect. With your Lordships' permission I will now turn to an additional important provision which I have inserted in the Bill, to limit the granting of pilotage certificates for British waters to British subjects. That granting these certificates to aliens is a pernicious practice is so palpable that it should hardly require me to advance arguments. So far as I can gather, it is not only a general but emphatic opinion—with the exception of the Board of Trade—that this granting of pilotage certificates to foreigners is a very serious matter. The following resolution was passed at the last Annual Conference of the United Kingdom Pilots' Association— Resolved—that this Conference views with considerable alarm the steadily increasing number of pilotage certificates granted to aliens, which impoverishes the native pilot and gives to foreign ships an advantage over our own. We would respectfully urge Parliament to take immediate steps to abolish a system which must be fraught with danger to the nation. It is regrettable that the authorities should give facilities to aliens to study and become familiar with the intricate navigation of our home waters. I understand that in the year 1888 there were about thirty-five aliens holding these pilotage certificates; the number of aliens with such certificates now approaches 100, and they are acting at ports pretty well all round our coasts. A month or two ago the President of the Board of Trade received a deputation from the pilots of the United Kingdom on this matter. This deputation was headed by Sir John Puleston, Lord Claude Hamilton, Sir R. Penrose Fitzgerald, M.P., Major Seely, M.P., Alderman Joyce, M.P., and Lieut-Colonel Evan Llewellyn, M.P. Sir John Puleston informed the President that over 100 Members of Parliament would have attended had it been necessary to trouble him with so large a deputation. The President of the Board of Trade, in replying to the deputation, proposed to communicate with the Admiralty asking their views with respect to the alleged national danger from the granting of pilotage certificates to aliens. I shall be interested to learn from my noble friend, the representative of the Board of Trade, as to what the opinions of the Admiralty are. The President of the Board of Trade also stated that he felt it to be a strong argument that no reciprocal advantages were given in this direction of pilotage certificates by other countries. Before the Parliamentary Select Committee which sat in 1888, the view of the national danger of aliens being granted pilotage certificates was supported with unanimity by the Trinity Houses of London and Hull and by other witnesses, and I venture to hope that your Lordships will coincide with the opinion of the country by supporting the clause in my Bill.

I have also introduced a clause with a view to avoid injustice being done to foreigners who have already been granted certificates of competency and to those shipowners employing them, but I make it a stipulation that these foreigners shall take the necessary steps to naturalise themselves at the earliest possible time. The Bill will, therefore, inflict no injury upon shipowners, of whom I would like to see more like Sir A. L. Jones, head of the great shipping firm of Elder, Dempster and Co., who, in expressing himself as to the confidence he had in his captains, also said that— He was exceedingly proud to be a British shipowner with British staffs of officers and engineers. I would also quote the following remarks made by Admiral Sir E. R. Fremantle in distributing prizes on the training-ship "Worcester"— He asserted that more encouragement ought to be given to the mercantile marine than had been accorded hitherto. On that subject he quite agreed with Lord Brassey and others who had expressed themselves to that effect. He did not believe in the Navy which was unsupported by a proper mercantile marine. That mercantile marine ought to be manned by British sailors and commanded by British officers In regard to this Bill, a very well-known shipowner in the North of England writes to me as follows— I take notice that you are going to bring forward a Motion to amend the Shipping Act, and I am pleased to read that you are taking an interest to stop these aliens from entirely manning our British ships, and also to prevent them from holding pilotage certificates unless they become naturalised British subjects. I have been for twenty years a Managing Owner, and for many years was on the Pilotage Board of the Tyne Dock Commissioners, and I was always strongly opposed to the granting of pilots' certificates to foreigners, no matter of what nationality, for the very reason you are going to extend in your Bill, that we are cultivating foreigners to navigate any foreign foe right into the heart of our country. I am extremely sorry that I have detained your Lordships for so long in drawing your attention to the case for my Bill. You will, I trust, observe that it is by no means my own individual opinions which I advance, but those of other authorities which I hope your Lordships will not ignore. It is unfortunately the case that though the national character of our mercantile marine is at odd times recognised by those in power, still when attempts are made to make this national character much more of a reality than it is at present, they are frustrated in every possible way. In all the enthusiasm of a post-prandial speech, the President of the Board of Trade said a very little time ago— If we were to lose our mercantile marine it would mean nothing less than the destruction of the British Empire. That empire is essentially the empire of the seas. It rests upon two great supports—upon the Navy in the first instance, and upon our mercantile marine in the second instance, and each of these supports is necessary to the other. If we were to lose our supremacy of the seas, the ocean, which at present unites the different parts of the British Empire and welds them into a single whole, would no longer unite them, but would divide them. And then there would come necessarily the falling asunder of the parts and the eventual dissolution of the Empire. I fully endorse the words of the right hon. Gentleman and after this expression of his views I do not see how one of the Departments under his rule can consistently oppose the Bill.

Is it too much to ask your Lordships to give effect to this Bill, which can only serve to strengthen our mercantile marine, to encourage our worthy and loyal fellow-subjects who serve in it, and, by eliminating aliens from the quarter-decks of our British ships, render greater security to our property when the paramount position of the British Empire may be at stake?

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Muskerry.)


My Lords, I trust that the Bill now before your Lordships may meet with the earnest consideration of His Majesty's Government. It seems to me that in these days, when the foreigner is holding more than his own, it is our duty to guard ourselves against alien incursion. I recognise that it is impossible, on account of the numbers at present available, to ask the Government to restrict the manning of our mercantile marine to British subjects. The figures at the present moment are as follow. Of 43,791 men in the mercantile marine only 28,698 are British. During the ten years ended 1901 there has been a decrease of 11,096 British sailors, and an increase of 8,730 foreigners in the British mercantile marine. There is a danger that aliens, knowing the intricacies of our coast as they do, may in war be able to transfer British ships and cargoes to the lines of the enemies. The fundamental principle of this Bill has been accepted by the Government in the negotiations concerning the Shipping Combination and the Cunard Company, and are also recognised by the Shipping Subsidies Committee, who recommend that none but British officers shall command or officer subsidised vessels. I trust that this measure, which has for so many months engaged the attention of my noble friend, will receive consideration at the hands of the Government.


My Lords, I desire at the outset to correct some of the statements of the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill. The noble Lord said that we had accepted the principle of the Bill. My Lords, I am here to-day to ask your Lordships not to grant a Second Reading to the measure now before the House. This is not a new Bill, it is an old friend. We had it before us in 1899, and again in 1901, when my noble friend Lord Dudley was representing the Board of Trade in this House. In asking your Lordships not to read this Bill a second time I do not propose to follow my noble friend through the highways and byways of free trade and protection. That is a question which will no doubt be raised later on in this House. What I think would be the courteous thing for me to do would be for a few minutes to follow the lines of the Bill, for my noble friend rather strayed a way at times from the subject matter of his measure, and dealt with subjects for which I am not answerable, and which would more closely come under the purview of my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. The Memorandum to the Bill contains several inaccuracies. The declared object of the Bill—to prevent aliens from obtaining the sole control of British ships and property—will not be attained by the methods of the Bill. I admit, certainly, that the law at the present moment allows such control, but this would not be altered by compelling all masters and mates to be British. The real object of the Bill is to restrict competition, and to form a sort of close corporation in the interests of British certificated officers. Among the serious inaccuracies which the Memorandum contains is a statement that— All the other leading maritime Powers restrict the commanding and officering of their merchant ships to their own subjects. I find on inquiry that neither Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Chili, nor Ecuador adopt this principle; and Spain, Italy, and Denmark only adopt the principle with regard to the master of the ship. Your Lordships are asked by the noble Lord to— Check what promises to be a large influx of foreigners intending eventually to obtain certificates entitling them to command British ships. On that statement I will trouble the House with a few figures. It appears that out of a total number of 24,037 persons who, in the five years from 1897 to 1901, obtained certificates as masters, mates, or engineers, only 483 were foreigners. My noble friend quoted the figure as being 582, but I am sure he will take the correction from me. Besides that, I ask special attention to the fact that the numbers are showing a great tendency to decrease. In the year 1897 they were 130; in 1898 they were 91; in 1899, 93; in 1900, 91; in 1901, 78; and in 1902, 76. I look upon that as a satisfactory decrease. The noble Lord stated that the percentage of aliens in our merchant ships is increasing to an alarming extent. I think this is an exaggeration. Noble Lords who have travelled a great deal, as I have, will have noticed that one-third of the number of aliens are Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes, and I am sure that, after British seamen, there are no finer seamen in the world than these.

My noble friend also touched on the very important matter of the holding of pilotage certificates by foreign masters and mates. The Board of Trade have been in communication with the Admiralty on the subject, and they have received the following figures. Out of a total of 4,000 masters and mates who hold pilotage certificates, only eighty-seven are foreigners. That is a comparatively small figure, and in the further correspondence with the Admiralty on this subject, it was pointed out that any sharp and intelligent sailor would soon pick up a knowledge of a port by often entering it, and that with the present day charts he could practically go into any port without a pilot. My noble friend stated that Clause 3 of his Bill would avoid any injustice being done to foreigners who have already been granted certificates of competency and to those shipowners who are employing them. That is rather a technical matter, and the view of the Board of Trade is that it would be most unfair to those to whom certificates had been granted less than six months before the Bill became law. My noble friend has rather implied that he has the shipowners on his side, but I hold in my hand a letter addressed to my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade by the Shipowners' Parliamentary Committee. I will read it to the House, and I am afraid my noble friend will derive very little satisfaction from it. The letter is as follows— Sir,—I am directed by this Committee to respectfully call your attention to a Bill entitled 'A Bill to amend the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894,' which Lord Muskerry has introduced into the House of Lords and the Second Reading of which he proposes to move on Thursday, 2nd July. The objects of the Bill are to preclude any person who is not a British subject from obtaining a certificate as master or mate in the British Merchant Service, or from obtaining a licence to act as a pilot in British waters. When similar Bills to the present were introduced by Lord Muskerry into the House of Lords in the years 1899 and 1901, both of them were opposed by the Earl of Dudley on behalf of the Board of Trade, and the Second Reading stage was upon both occasions negatived without a division. I am directed by this Committee, which represents nine-tenths of the merchant shipping tonnage of the United Kingdom, to respectfully express their hope that the representative of the Board of Trade in the Upper House will oppose Lord Muskerry's Bill for the following, among other, reasons:

  1. "1. That although the Bill only proposes to prevent foreigners from obtaining Board of Trade certificates of competency as masters or mates in the merchant service, or as pilots, the acceptance of the principle of the Bill by Parliament would nevertheless involve a reversal of the policy which has been deliberately adopted by Parliament and the country since the repeal of the Navigation Act in the year 1849.
  2. "2. That British shipowners believe that if the Bill were to be passed it would be followed in a very short time by a demand that every certificated officer of a British ship

(whether employed in the navigation of the vessel or in the engine-room) should be a British subject, and, also, that all seamen and firemen who are employed on board of British vessels should be British subjects.

"3. That the proportion of foreigners holding master's certificates in the British mercantile marine is exceedingly small. Lord Dudley, on behalf of the Board of Trade, indeed, stated in the House of Lords on 24th February, 1899, that on 25th March, 1896, only 180 foreigners out of a total of 10,389 masters, held certificates of competency as masters.

"4. That a large number of British subjects are at present employed (especially as engineers) in vessels which belong to foreign nations. If, therefore, Lord Muskerry's Bill were passed it might easily lead to these nations adopting a retaliatory policy in this matter, to the loss and injury of many of His Majesty's subjects.

"5. That no valid reason has been shown why British shipowners should—alone of all employers of labour in this country—be forbidden by Parliament to employ foreigners in their service.

"6. That if such a measure be required it should be introduced by yourself as President of the Board of Trade into Parliament with the authority and upon the responsibility of His Majesty's Government and not be left to the initiative of a private Member of the House of Lords."

That is the view taken of the Bill by the shipowners, whom this question most intimately concerns, and I hope your Lordships will not give it a Second Reading.


I quite agree with the Shipowners' Parliamentary Committee that this is a Bill which ought to be introduced by His Majesty's Government, but if the Government will not do their duty, and as this is a much needed measure, some private Member must do so. My noble friend referred to the shipowners, but apparently he does not know that they are the most disunited body of people in the whole of the United Kingdom. Just before I came into your Lordships' House I received a telegram from the Greenock Chamber of Commerce, warmly approving of the Bill and wishing it success. This is a matter of national defence, and I am compelled to press the Bill to a division.

On Question, their Lordship divided: Contents, 8; Not-contents, 74.

Newcastle, D. Colchester, L. Muskerry, L. [Teller.]
Rutland, D. Kelvin, L. Norton, L.
Abinger, L. [Teller.] Lyveden, L.
Devonshire, D. (L. President.) Manvers, E. Glenesk, L.
Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.) Morley, E. Grey de Ruthyn, L.
Argyll, D. Northbrook, E. Harris, L.
Grafton, D. Portsmouth, E. Heneage, L.
Portland, D. Selborne, E. James, L.
Wellington, D. Stanhope, E. Kenyon, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Killanin, L.
Ailesbury, M. Waldegrave, E. [Teller.] Kinnaird, L.
Bath, M. Westmeath, E. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Lansdowne, M. Yarborough, E. Lawrence, L.
Ripon, M. Manners, L.
Churchill, V. [Teller.] Monk Bretton, L.
Abingdon, E. Cross, V. Monkswell, L.
Belmore, E. Goschen, V. Mostyn, L.
Camperdown, E. Portman, V. Mount Stephen, L.
Carrington, E. Sidmouth, V. Muncaster, L.
Chesterfield, E. O'Hagan, L.
Denbigh, E. Aberdare, L. Poltimore, L.
Egerton, E. Annaly, L. Ribblesdale, L.
Feversham, E. Avebury, L. Robertson, L.
Grey, E. Balfour, L. Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)
Hardwicke, E. Burghclere, L. Tweedmouth, L.
Jersey, E. Calthorpe, L. Ventry, L.
Lauderdale, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam. Wimborne, L.
Malmesbury, E. Coleridge, L. Windsor, L.
Mansfield, E. Dunboyne, L. Wolverton, L.