HC Deb 20 February 1924 vol 169 cc1811-2W
Viscount CURZON

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the attention of his Department has been drawn to the recent prosecution of the master of the s.s. "Tredenham" for failing to maintain a wireless watch on board ship in accordance with the provisions of the Wireless Telegraphy (No. 976) Act, 1920, when the master pleaded that, as only one fully-qualified operator was engaged, he was obliged to employ apprentices as watchers; if the Marine Department of the Board of Trade is aware of the growing practice of employing apprentices as wireless watchers; if the Board of Trade is aware that, on 28th July last, Sir W. Taylor, in giving judgment in the case of Dunn v. H. E. Moss and Company, of Liverpool, at the Liverpool Court of Passage, referring to the indentures under which apprentices are engaged, stated that this covenant is the consideration for the masters' covenant to use all proper means to teach the apprentice the business of a seaman, and give to the apprentice that actual sea service and instruction which both parties recognised as being necessary to qualify the apprentice for his officer's ticket; and if the Board of Trade, after considering the above facts, will take steps to prevent the regular employment of apprentices as wireless watchers as being detrimental to the efficiency of the mercantile marine, in that apprentices will not receive the instruction stipulated for in their indentures that they shall be taught the duties of a seaman?


The Board of Trade are aware of the proceedings in the case of the s.s. "Tredenham," and also of the other matters referred to in the Noble Lord's question. The allocation of duties among the ship's crew is a matter for the owners and master of the ship, and so long as the statutory requirements are complied with, the Board of Trade have no power to intervene. I may point out, however, that the indenture of apprenticeship is a civil contract, and it is really for the apprentice himself or his parent or guardian to take action if it is alleged that the shipowners are not fulfilling the terms of the contract.

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