§ Mr. JOYCE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a statement made by two seamen, named Jeremiah Coughlan and John Coughlan, that the Shipping Federation by their action are preventing those men from earning their living; are those men in the Royal Naval Reserve for a number of years, and, if so, must they have a certain term of sea service every year; what is the character of those men; and will he see that no unnecessary trouble is given them in the pursuit of their calling and that all restrictions are removed?
My attention has been called to the statement made by the two seamen in question. I am informed that the Federation registration tickets of these men were suspended for desertion from the steamship "Zinnia" in 1903. On 22nd October, 1908, the men applied to have the suspension of their tickets terminated, and were informed by letter on 24th October, 1908, that if they would obtain the endorsement of their application by the owners of the "Zinnia," no objection would be raised by the Federation to the return of their tickets. The men, however, it is stated, refused to apply to the owners of the "Zinnia" for this endorsement of their application, and consequently the matter has remained in abeyance. The two seamen are members of the Royal Naval Reserve, and are said to be of good character. The Board of Trade have, however, no power to interfere with the freedom of action of shipowners as regards the men whom they employ, or with any lawful conditions which the Shipping Federation may make as regards the issue and renewal of their registration, tickets.