HL Deb 30 June 1909 vol 2 cc109-23

LORD MUSKERRY rose "to call attention to the colour-vision test to which candidates for Board of Trade certificates as master or mate are subjected; to ask whether the attention of the President of the Board of Trade has been called to the case of Mr. W. H. Glover, who has been certified by the London Local Marine Board, after hearing expert evidence, as fit to discharge the duties of first mate, notwithstanding the fact that three persons who had tested his sight on behalf of the Board of Trade had failed Mr. Glover on the ground that he was defective in colour-vision, and therefore incompetent; whether the Board of Trade propose to take any further action in this matter, and whether they will state in how many cases within recent times have candidates for the Higher Grade Board of Trade Certificates, who have already passed the colour-vision test, been rejected on the ground of colour blindness when re-examined on application for a certificate of a higher grade; and also to call attention to the case of Mr. Trattles, who after having passed for first mate in colour tests, as well as for other qualifications, and having received the examiner's authority for the delivery of a first mate's certificate in 1906, received a letter stating that his examination had been cancelled as he had failed to pass a special colour examination in 1905; and to move that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the conditions under which eyesight tests for the Mercantile Marine certificates are conducted."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am bringing to your notice a most urgent and important matter. I say this because it is not only closely identified with the safety of life at sea, but under present conditions it seems evident that very grave injustices may be perpetrated upon those who serve in the mercantile marine, either as officers or as candidates aspiring to become officers. I am referring to the examinations in colour-vision which candidates for Board of Trade certificates as master or mate are required to undergo. For your Lordships' information I will state in a few words the procedure which is followed in the case of candidates for these certificates. On filling up the necessary form and paying the sum of 1s., any person serving or intending to serve in the mercantile marine may present himself voluntarily for the examination. But, as I have said, in the case of candidates for certificates the examination is compulsory. It is with these candidates alone that I propose to deal.

In the first place, the candidate is examined by an examiner, the examination being conducted by the official Board of Trade examiners at the different seaports. If the candidate fails in the colour-test he may appeal to the Board of Trade, who, if they think fit, may submit the case to a special examiner or body of examiners for a final decision. If, on appeal, the candidate again fails, he must pay his own expenses, but if he succeeds they are under certain circumstances borne by the Board of Trade. When the candidate fails on appeal, and there is reason to believe that, in consequence, he is, through incompetency in regard to eyesight, unfit to discharge his duties, the Board of Trade, in the public interest, may cause an Inquiry to be held before a Court having jurisdiction to cancel or suspend such certificate. That is, of course, providing the candidate already has one or more certificates. Your Lordships will, therefore, see that the result of such an Inquiry, when set on foot by the Board of Trade, has two issues only; one is that it may mean the cancellation of an officer's certificate—that is, if he has already passed the test when a candidate for a certificate of a lower grade. The unfortunate officer's professional career may be ruined, whilst the most valuable years of his life may prove to have been absolutely wasted.

The case of Mr. Glover, which I refer to in my Notice, has excited widespread attention, and a considerable amount of public controversy has arisen over it. The Imperial Merchant Service Guild, which represent so many captains and officers, have laid certain facts before me in connection with this and other instances, and have expressed their alarm at the many injustices for which the existing mode of testing candidates in colour-vision may be held responsible. The Shipping Gazette, our leading shipping paper, has dwelt in the most emphatic terms on the enormity of Mr. Glover's case and of another case which I will bring to your notice, and has gone to much trouble in eliciting striking and significant facts which bear upon these cases. The Journal of Commerce, another well-known shipping paper, also identifies itself with this question, and without doubt there is a consensus of opinion that it demands the prompt attention of the Board of Trade.

To put Mr. Glover's case shortly, in the first place he was failed in colour-vision by a Board of Trade examiner. On appeal he was examined by an expert examiner specially appointed by the Board of Trade, and again failed. The Board of Trade then caused a Local Marine Board Inquiry to be set on foot in order that Mr. Glover should be adjudged incompetent through defective colour-vision. Those who had examined Mr. Glover on behalf of the Board of Trade gave evidence to the effect that Mr. Glover was undoubtedly colour-blind. But that well-known specialist, Dr. William Ettles, pathologist to the Royal Eye Hospital, was called by Mr. Glover to give evidence on his behalf. Dr. Ettles stated that, from the point of visional power, Mr. Glover was fully qualified to undertake any position in the mercantile marine. He stated that Mr. Glover accurately matched colours every time without hesitation, and in the doctor's opinion a good many of the Board of Trade examinations were wrong. This, as your Lordships will observe, was a case of experts falling out.

The Board of Inquiry which heard the case considered that the best way out of the quandary was to test Mr. Glover for themselves. The result of it was that the Board found that he was not incompetent by reason of colour-blindness to perform his duties, and his certificate was therefore returned to him and the sum of ten guineas awarded as costs. Whether the London Local Marine Board is a competent tribunal to decide on a colour-vision test when experts differ so absolutely is a matter of opinion. In any case, it will be patent to your Lordships that the position as it stands is untenable and at present we can have no confidence in these examinations. It would be a most dangerous thing if, by chance, a colour-blind officer were allowed to go to sea and be in charge of a ship; whilst, on the other hand, it is a grave injustice to a man if he is failed in colour-vision when his eyesight is not defective in this respect.

Besides this case of Mr. Glover, another of a most extraordinary character has been brought to my notice. It concerns an officer of the name of Trattles. In the year 1904 Mr. Trattles was passed in colours on going up for his second mate's certificate at West Hartlepool. I had better read to your Lordships Mr. Trattles' statement. It is as follows— On February 3, 1904, passed in colours before Captain Young at West Hartlepool. Remainder of second mate's examination the two following days before Captain Forrest, who gave me an unofficial examination in colours. On July 6, 1905, sat for chief mate and was failed in colours by Captain Forrest. Appealed to the Board of Trade against his decision and was examined at South Kensington by Captain Harvey, who upheld Captain Forrest's decision. Received a letter two days later asking me to surrender my second mate's ticket, which I refused. Got examined at the Central London Ophthalmic Hospital, also at the South London Royal Eye Infirmary, and received certificates from both stating that my colour sense was good. I would ask your Lordships to note what follows— Shortly after received a request from the Board of Trade to deliver up my certificate together with a statement that I surrendered it voluntarily, or, in the event of my not doing so, the Board of Trade would feel compelled to hold an Inquiry into my competency to hold a ticket— They often use the word "ticket" instead of "certificate"— I answered demanding an Inquiry, and asking for it to be held in London at an early date. On September 1, 1905, an Inquiry was held in London, where I was given an examination before the Board and was informed that, so far as colour-vision was concerned, I was competent to hold a certificate. On April 27, 1906, again presented myself to be examined for first mate's certificate and was examined in colours and passed before Captain Saul, London. On May 7, 8, and 9, 1906, sat for the remainder of the examination and received examiner's authority for the delivery of a first mate's ticket, which I still hold. On May 17, 1906, received letter stating that my examina- tion had been cancelled and that I had been improperly allowed to sit, having failed to pass the special colour examination on July 18, 1905. I understand that the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen, who issues the certificates, said that it had been decided to withhold this certificate on the ground that Mr. Trattles was completely "red-blind," and Mr. Lloyd-George, who was then President of the Board of Trade and was appealed to in the hope that he would reverse the arbitrary decision of the Registrar-General, stated, in reply, that it had been found that Mr. Trattles was "green-blind." It is therefore palpable that either great injustices have been done or the present eyesight tests are total failures; and I would point out that the great proportion of candidates who are failed in colour-vision do not avail themselves of the opportunity they have for appealing.

At the Colonial Merchant Shipping Conference a resolution was adopted calling upon the Board of Trade to institute more severe examinations in connection with eyesight—that is, both for form-vision and colour-vision. But it is not the severity of the examinations so much as the mode in which they are conducted which needs adjusting. I understand, and I believe it is a fact, that the question has been under the consideration of the late Advisory Committee of the Board of Trade acting on the initiative of the Board of Trade itself. What their views were on the situation I do not know. There was an amount of secrecy about the proceedings of the Board of Trade Advisory Committee which seemed to be quite unnecessary. The present forms of eyesight tests are based upon the report of a Committee on Colour-Vision appointed by the Council of the Royal Society. The Chairman of this Committee was Lord Rayleigh, and others upon the Committee were the late Lord Kelvin, Professor Foster, Mr. Francis Galton, Sir George Stokes, and Sir William Abney. One is inclined to question, therefore, the inefficiency of the present examinations. The mode of conducting them, however, is quite a different matter, and one for which the Committee I have referred to is not to be held responsible.

Since these experiences that I have mentioned of Mr. Trattles and Mr. Glover they have both been re-examined in colour- vision at the instance of the Board of Trade—on May 28 last—and they have both been failed. Dr. Ettles, who had examined them and stated that, as far as their professional duties required, they were perfectly competent from the point of colour-vision, was invited by the Board of Trade to be present on the occasion of the examination. They said they would welcome his presence at the examination. I wrote to Dr. Ettles asking him what he thought of the examination, and whether he was satisfied with it. At this time neither of us had learned the result of the examination. I hold in my hand his reply, which is most interesting and instructive, but is too long to read to your Lordships. I will, however, give you one or two extracts from it. I may say that Dr. Ettles does not appear to have been very courteously treated at this examination, and he certainly does not think that the examination was fairly conducted in the interests of the candidates. On the contrary, it would appear as if conducted with the object of proving that the former adverse decisions were correct. I also understand that the examiners were those who had already conducted previous examinations of these gentlemen and had failed them, and surely they could not be expected to contradict themselves on this special examination when they were practically sitting on an appeal from their former decision, and I do not think that it was at all fair that they should have been the examiners on this occasion. Dr. Ettles states— It is with regret that I am constrained to say that, in my opinion, it [the examination] was conducted on quite wrong principles. After referring to the invitation that had been sent to him from the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, Dr. Ettles proceeds— On my arrival I was ushered into a room containing a considerable number of gentlemen, among whom I recognised one or two ophthalmic surgeons. I then asked Sir William Abney if he desired to consult with me as to the order and character of the tests, but this he declined to do, adding that I was free to look on if I chose. This was an unfortunate attitude, I think, because obviously if one or both of the candidates failed under conditions which I had accepted as adequate, the matter would have been at an end. Then Dr. Ettles describes how the first candidate, Mr. Trattles, was taken in hand and the various tests adopted. He says— He was not asked to match the wool, the only correct test with wools, but to pick out all the greens. The poor man was in a pitiable state of nervousness, but no one would give him the smallest assistance. The proper attitude of the examiner is thus given by Adams Frost in Juler's 'Ophthalmic Science and Practice' [3rd edition, 1904, p. 356]: 'With people of low intelligence, and with children, it is a good plan for the examiner to go through the test himself to show how simple a matter it is; if the number of wools is sufficient, and they are properly mixed afterwards, this gives no unfair assistance to those whose colour-vision is defective.' Captain Harvey, who conducted the examination, evidently held no such view with regard to nervous examinees. Then Dr. Ettles goes on to state the colours which Mr. Trattles picked out. Further on he says— He was next given a deep rose pink, a more saturated colour than that described by Holmgren. He correctly drew out seven correct rose pinks and then 'went to pieces,' for the next two were a violet and a vermilion. He had been examined under great tension for ten minutes. A man with weak colour-vision will match a violet with a pink but not a vermilion. The red-blind chooses blue and violet: the green-blind a grey or a bright green. Trattles' match with pale green showed that he was not red-blind, while his match with pink showed he was not green-blind. The simultaneous production of violet and scarlet at the end of a succession of correct wools simply showed that the nervous tension was too much and his judgment had broken down. Dr. Ettles continues— The third test was a violet. Test III of the wool of Holmgren is a bright red. It was clear that the official order was not to be observed. He goes on to speak of the tests, and then proceeds— Sir William Abney asked the names of colours while a sliding spectrum was being exhibited, so that several times when the answers came a new pair of tints was on the screen. I do not allege that this was in any way intentional, but it was careless of the candidate's interest. Another surprising point was the absence of method. The colours were shown haphazard and it would be impossible to analyse a defect by these means. And towards the end Dr. Ettles says— The memory of these examinations is unpleasant because there is an ineradicable conviction in my mind that the whole focal point was to prove the infallibility of the Board of Trade, and not to sift the case of these men whose whole future was at stake. As I have said before, my Lords, it is not so much the form of the test that is objected to as the way in which it is sometimes conducted; and surely if, as Dr. Ettles says in the case of Mr. Trattles, he was in a pitiable state of nervousness, the attitude that Dr. Ettles describes was shown to him by the examiners was not likely to reduce that state of nervousness, and, as Dr. Ettles quotes, not the proper attitude as described by authorities of ophthalmic science and practice. I do not for one minute say that Mr. Trattles is unintelligent; he certainly could not have passed the other portion of his examinations satisfactorily if he were; but a pitiable state of nervousness and the attitude shown to him might have reduced him nearly to the condition of a person of no intelligence on the occasion of the examination.

Now, my Lords, there is one other test which Mr. Trattles has undergone, and I think your Lordships will agree with me that it is a most excellent test, and one to be thoroughly relied upon. I myself attach more importance to it than the tests of any scientists. I must tell your Lordships that all these years Mr. Trattles has been doing his duty as second mate. After the first question about his sight arose in 1905, naturally it was heard of by the captain under whom he was serving. No captain in his senses would trust his ship to the care of an officer about whose sight there was any doubt, and therefore this captain, without Mr. Trattles' knowledge, tested him in various ways and told Mr. Trattles afterwards he had done so. Apparently he was perfectly satisfied as to Mr. Trattles' colour-vision, as this letter, dated the 21st of this month, will show— We have pleasure in stating that Mr. John Trattles has been second officer of our s.s. "Kingfield," 5,500 tons burden, from September, 1905, to May, 1909, during which time his conduct and ability have been all we could desire, and had he been eligible we should have promoted him to chief officer, as vacancies occurred. We have frequently questioned the captain as to his visual powers, and on every occasion the former has assured us that he has perfect colour-vision and that he always felt every confidence in leaving him in charge during his watch. We shall be very pleased to give him further employment. This is from the owners of the steamer in which he served, and it is signed by the manager. Then I hold in my hand letters from the captain, in one of which he says— I have no doubt as to his eyesight, having tried him on numerous occasions while on duty at night.

My Lords, the scientific or other examiners living on shore who examine in colour-vision have absolutely nothing at stake should the examinee be colour-blind or otherwise; the captain of a ship has everything at stake—he has his own life, the lives of his crew, and the safety of his ship. Therefore I say that these tests, under the actual conditions that prevail at sea and in practice, are of much greater value to my mind than any of the other tests. I am moving for a Select Committee to inquire into this subject. Whether it will be granted or not I cannot say; but some Committee, and not a Departmental Committee, certainly should investigate this matter, and careful instructions should be issued to the various examiners as to the way in which they are to conduct these tests, for, take it how you will, there must be something absolutely wrong in the present system. Mr. Trattles was passed by Captain Young and then by Captain Forrest, who a year afterwards failed him. He has passed at the London Ophthalmic Hospital and at the Royal Eye Infirmary. Then, after being examined by the Court of Inquiry with which the Board of Trade had threatened him should he not surrender his certificate and say he did so voluntarily, and which he had applied for himself, this very Court found that, so far as colour-vision was concerned, he was competent to hold the certificate. Now, my Lords, someone must have been wrong in all these examinations, and therefore I submit that the whole subject demands a searching investigation.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the conditions under which eyesight tests for Mercantile Marine certificates are conducted.—(Lord Muskerry.)


My Lords, I know that in the opinion of the noble Lord the Board of Trade never can do anything right, but I hardly think that on this occasion he will have succeeded in convincing your Lordships that the Board are wrong in being very particular and very careful, as they undoubtedly are, in the matter of these colour-vision tests. Your Lordships know that the whole safety of navigation by night depends upon the man in charge of the ship being able to distinguish between a red light, a green light, and a white light under all conditions of weather and atmosphere, and in those circumstances the very greatest care has to be exercised, and is exercised in these tests. They are based upon the Report of the Committee of the Royal Society to which the noble Lord has alluded, which sat at the request of the Board of Trade in 1892, and of which the most distinguished scientist in your Lord- ships' House—Lord Rayleigh—was chairman. The [...]ests are very much as the noble Lord has described them. The original test is carried out by the Board of Trade examiners or by the Local Board of Trade superintendent at the port. If a candidate fails, he is sent before special examiners, who have invariably been either Sir William Abney or Professor Watson, assisted by Captain Harvey, the chief Board of Trade examiner. These examinations take place at the Royal College of Science, South Kensington.

The noble Lord's Notice, as is usual, occupies a considerable amount of the Order Paper, and I find that on the present occasion the catechism is divided into seven parts. I think the only way in which I can satisfy the noble Lord will be by answering each of them in turn. I have alluded to the first one. In the second part the noble Lord asks whether the attention of the President of the Board of Trade has been called to the case of Mr. W. H. Glover. In answer to that I have to say that the attention of my right hon. friend has been called to this case, and not that only he, but everyone at the Board of Trade before whom the case of these two men has come, myself included, feel the deepest sympathy for them; but, unfortunately, they suffer from a physical defect which is absolutely insurmountable in the case of the profession they have adopted, and the duty of the Board of Trade, I am afraid, is perfectly clear.

Next, the noble Lord asks whether it is the case that Mr. Glover was certified by the London Local Marine Board, after hearing expert evidence, as fit to discharge the duties of first mate, notwithstanding the fact that three persons who had tested his sight on behalf of the Board of Trade had failed Mr. Glover on the ground that he was defective in colour-vision. Yes; that is the case. Here, again, the facts are as the noble Lord has stated, except that he was passed for second mate and not for first mate, though I do not think that makes any material difference. Mr. Glover, as the noble Lord has stated, on May 28 of this year went before the special examiners, who in this case were Sir William Abney, Professor Watson, and Captain Harvey, who certified that he and the other man, Mr. Trattles, were colour-blind. There were also present on this occasion four other scientific gentlemen — Professor Church, Professor Callendar, Dr. J. H. [...]arsons, representing the Ophthalmological Society, and Dr. Rivers, representing the Royal Society; and all those gentlemen agreed absolutely with the decision that was come to by the examiners. There were other gentlemen present as friends of the men who were being examined. The noble Lord has quoted from the letter of one of these—a doctor; and I think I ought to quote from the Report which Dr. Rivers presented to the Royal Society. Dr. Rivers wrote— I attended on May 28 the special examination of two men who had been rejected by the Board of Trade for abnormal colour-vision and had subsequently been certified as normal by a medical practitioner. The two men were tested by means of Sir William Abney's spectral apparatus in a dark room and were asked to name single patches of colour and pairs of such patches, both objective and contrast colours being used. The patches shown were of considerable size, but in spite of this both men made gross errors, all their answers being such as were to be expected from colour-blind persons. One of the two men was usually right with the largest patches shown, but made gross errors with smaller patches and was evidently a case of weakness of colour-vision rather than of absolute colour-blindness.


In what capacity was Dr. Rivers attending?


He was invited as the representative of the Royal Society. This case having caused considerable comment, the Royal Society agreed to send a representative who would make a Report to them, I think especially in view of the fact that these tests are based on the Report of their Committee. The Report of Dr. Rivers proceeds— In addition, one of the two men was put through the Holmgren wool-test, and he gave a good example of the method of responding to this test followed by those who have been especially coached to pass it. There could be no doubt that in each man the condition of vision would be a definite source of danger at sea. The last paragraph of the report is as follows, and I think it answers what the noble Lord has said— The only criticism I have to offer is that, though the tests must have been absolutely convincing to any one acquainted with the subject, their effect on the representatives of shipping bodies and other lay persons present may have been rendered less definite by the rapidity with which they were carried out. What might have been an absolutely convincing demonstration of the abnormality of the two men may have been marred, so far as lay persons were concerned, by this rapidity. I think that accounts for the opinion which the noble Lord has read to the House.

The noble Lord then asks whether the Board of Trade propose to take any further action in this matter. Yes. In view of the opinions which have been expressed, it is impossible for the Board of Trade to take the responsibility of allowing these men to hold their certificates so far as the Board of Trade are empowered in that matter; and, as the noble Lord has said, the Board of Trade have written to these men asking them to surrender their certificates, and if they do not do so the Board will be compelled reluctantly to bring the case before one of the Courts which deal with these matters. They are bound to do this in the public interest. Then the noble Lord asks in how many cases within recent times have candidates who have already passed the colour-vision test been rejected on going up for further examination. I can give him the figures for the last four years. In 1905 there were none; in 1906, two; in 1907, one; and in 1908, two—a total for the four years of five. I think I ought to supplement these figures by stating that the total number examined for colour-vision during that period was 25,151, that the number who failed was 239; of the failures sixty-four appealed to South Kensington, and of these twenty-seven were passed on appeal and thirty-seven were rejected.

The noble Lord also called attention to the case of Mr. Trattles. His case is, again, much as the noble Lord has stated. In 1905, I think, he had already failed. He went up for examination and was rejected, and the Board of Trade then asked him to resign his certificate. As he did not do so, they brought him before a Local Marine Board in London. The Board heard the expert evidence of the Board of Trade, they also heard medical evidence on behalf of Mr. Trattles, and they determined, as the noble Lord has said, that when doctors differed they would decide for themselves. They accordingly subjected Mr. Trattles, as I understand, to a very crude test with wools, and decided on the strength of that, and in opposition to the scientific evidence of the Board of Trade, that he had normal colour-vision. There, for the moment, the responsibility of the Board of Trade ended. But when he presented himself for a further certificate it was necessary that he should be examined again. He again failed, and went before the same Board, in May of this year, as Mr. Glover whose case I have already alluded to.

Then the noble Lord moves for a Select Committee to inquire into the conditions under which eyesight tests for mercantile marine certificates are conducted. I have to say that the Board of Trade are of opinion that these tests, as at present carried out, are efficient, and that they do not consider that any case has been made out for a Select Committee. The tests, as I have said, were based upon the Report of the Royal Society, and ever since they were established the Board have been in constant communication on this subject with Sir William Abney, who is recognised as being the greatest living authority on this matter in the country. The noble Lord shakes his head. When I saw this Notice on the Paper I communicated with Lord Rayleigh because I thought that your Lordships would like, if possible, to have the opinion of that very eminent scientist. Lord Rayleigh has written regretting that it is impossible for him to be present, but authorising me to say that he does not think the Board of Trade can be wrong in following the advice of Sir William Abney. I submit that the whole of the scientific evidence in this matter is on the side of the Board of Trade in the course they have adopted, and I submit that no case has been made out for further inquiry.


My Lords, I am quite sure your Lordships will be grateful to the noble Lord who has just sat down for the very full manner in which he has gone into this case. At the beginning of his remarks he was rather inclined to resent the criticisms which from time to time my noble friend who sits behind me levels at the Board of Trade. I am quite sure the noble Lord opposite will not think that I underrate the services of the Board of Trade, or that I have ever been inclined to criticise them unfairly. On the contrary, I know too well how exceedingly valuable a public Department this is, and how able and experienced are the servants which the State has in that office. But I do not think your Lordships will be inclined to quarrel with my noble friend if he, even at the risk of tilting against a great public Department, comes forward in order to plead the cause of individuals who see, it may be by an inevitable misfortune, their whole method of gaining a livelihood threatened. We would be, like any other body of Englishmen, very tender towards such men, and we are obliged to my noble friend for pleading cases such as theirs before your Lordships. But I think that, my noble friend having heard the great weight of authority which the noble Lord opposite was able to produce in favour of the system pursued by the Board of Trade and the immense care that had evidently been taken in the examination of these two men, he will not be inclined to press further the criticisms he has made.

I speak with great diffidence on this subject, but I have, perhaps, a special claim to be heard because I am colour-blind myself—not, perhaps, completely colour-blind, but quite sufficiently so to have been rejected under the tests which the noble Lord has described to the House. And perhaps I might contribute just this one mite to the discussion of the subject, as it may be—I am speaking from my own experience—an explanation of the inconsistencies, to which my noble friend has drawn attention, at the hands of the various authorities before whom these two gentlemen were examined. I am convinced that colour-blindness is very capricious. On some days I am much more colour-blind than on others. That capriciousness may easily account for the fact that when these gentlemen were before one authority they fared better than when before another. But, from the point of view of the mercantile marine, of course such caprice might be very dangerous; and therefore I am afraid that, from my own experience, I cannot quarrel with the Board of Trade for having applied these rigid tests; nor can I shrink from the consequence, which means in this case that these gentlemen must be content to abandon the profession which they had adopted. On the whole, I cannot regret that the subject has been brought before your Lordships' House. It has, at any rate, satisfied us that no injustice has been done, and it has given the noble Lord opposite an opportunity of explaining to your Lordships how careful and elaborate are the precautions taken to protect the lives of those in the mercantile marine, and how great is the care at the same time not unduly to injure the professional prospects of those engaged in that great profession.


My Lords, with reference to the statement of the noble Marquess that colour-blindness is very capricious, I think it is remarkable that Mr. Trattles during all the time he was at sea was not colour-blind. The noble Lord opposite has stated that no case has been made out for an Inquiry. I would remind him that these gentlemen had passed the colour-vision test. If they were colour-blind, then there must have been some mistake on the part of those who tested them; there must have been something wrong if they were passed. If a mistake was made in these cases, how many men have been allowed to go to sea who are colour-blind? It gives one a very uneasy feeling, for evidently those first examinations were not effective. I will not press for a Select Committee, but I would ask my noble friend opposite to bring the matter to the notice of the President of the Board of Trade. It is not the examination but the mode in which it is conducted that is complained of. The Board of Trade adopt the Holmgren wool-test, but when they do so they should carry out the instructions issued with the test, and it should not be left to the individual caprice of any examiner to use the test as he likes.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.