§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that it was decided in the House of Lords in 1919, in the case of Horlock versus Beal, that shipowners are not liable for the wages of the crews of British ships detained in Germany during the War; that Lord Loreburn, in his judgment in that case, stated that he had learned with satisfaction that provision was to be made for cases of this kind from public funds; how many British ships, exclusive of fishing vessels, were detained in Germany from the beginning of the War; whether he is aware that claims for lost wages under the Treaty of Versailles against the German Government through the Clearing Office by the crews of vessels alleged to have been detained before the outbreak of war have been admitted by the German authorities in the case of certain vessels and rejected in the case of others; that the arbitrator has resigned and the British and German Clearing Offices have been for some time engaged in attempting to settle the remaining claims without the intervention of an arbitrator; whether, in the case of any of the remaining claims, the German authorities have shown any disposition to make any offer in settlement; and whether, in accordance with the policy adumbrated by Lord Loreburn, it is proposed to make provision from public 45W funds for the masters, officers, and crews of British ships detained in Germany from the beginning of the War in those cases in which no compensation for lost wages is forthcoming from the German authorities and in which the shipowners have not taken the burden on themselves?
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
In answer to the first, second, third and last parts of the question, I would say that 76 British ships, exclusive of fishing vessels, were detained in German ports at the outbreak of war. The judgment to which the hon. and gallant Member refers was given in 1916, and the statement in it to which he calls special attention is believed to refer to the provisions which were at that time in operation for the relief of the dependents of the officers and men interned in Germany. Over £233,000 was paid under this scheme, but all such schemes have long since been wound up, and it would be impossible to re-open them now. With regard to the fourth, fifth and sixth parts of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given by the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Member for Gorton on 9th March, a copy of which I am sending him. I should add that claims are only rejected by the German authorities in cases which are directly governed by adverse decisions given by the arbitrator in test cases.