§ 28. Mr. O'GRADY
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, despite the pledges made and promises given by the shipowners, Messrs. Watts, Watts, and Company, to an official of the Labour Department of the Board of Trade, to the effect that they would not discharge further British seamen and employ further Chinese crews, following the example of the steamship "Greenwich," the steamship "Henley" and the steamship "Hampstead" have now been manned by Chinamen to the detriment of our own seafaring workers; whether he is aware that, as a direct consequence of this violation of the terms of the Treasury agreement and a distinct breach of their own pledge by the shipowners in question, there ensued a stoppage in the loading of the steamship "Henley," which is calculated to give rise to far-reaching consequences; and whether he intends to deal with those employers in such a manner as would protect the nation against any serious interference with the transport facilities?
I understand that the statement made by the firm to the Chief Industrial Commissioner's Department was that the firm had no objection to employ a reliable British crew on the steamship "Henley," if such a crew could be obtained for them. That information was conveyed to the unions, by whom the matter was brought to the notice of the Department, but from a communication which has since been received from the firm I understand that no British crew was tendered to them. I may remark that the master did not apply for assistance at the Hull Mercantile Marine Office to obtain a British or European crew. I am aware that, on account of a stoppage in the loading of the steamship "Henley," the vessel had to sail short of part of her cargo.