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sum not exceeding 108., or, in exceptional cases, £1 for his personal expenses. The seaman is thus sent from the ship's side to the railway or steamboat station and thence to his home at any seaport or inland post town, where he receives whatever balance of wages may be due to him.

At Gravesend, Avonmouth, and Gourock, steam launches are attached to the mercantile marine offices for the special purpose of suppressing crimping and helping seamen to transmit their wages.

From 17,000 to 21,000 seamen annually take advantage of this system, which has recently been extended experimentally to Dunkirk. A Board of Trade officer is now stationed at this port, from which, with the assistance of Her Majesty's consul, seamen are sent to their homes in the United Kingdom and their wages transmitted to a mercantile marine office, less a commission of three pence in the pound. This is the rate charged for seamen's foreign money orders. In other respects the system is the same as that in force in the United Kingdom. When seamen are being paid off, superintendents are instructed not to allow persons unconnected with the business in hand to be present. Seamen after receiving their wages can, if they please, without leaving the premises, go to another room and deposit their money in the savings bank or remit it to their relatives or friends by money order. Superintendents are instructed to withhold payment of wages to men who are unfit, from intoxication or other causes, to receive them.

"213. A debt exceeding in amount five shillings incurred by any seaman after he is engaged to serve shall not be recoverable until the service agreed for is concluded.” This section, no doubt, has its effect in preventing boarding masters making such claims. The superintendent has no action to take with regard to the section except to advise seamen who may come to him with complaints.

"214. (1) A local authority, hereinafter mentioned, whose district includes a seaport, may, with the approval of the Board of Trade, make by-laws relating to seamen's lodging houses in their district, and those by-laws shall be binding upon all persons keeping houses in which seamen are lodged and upon the owners thereof and persons employed therein.

"(2) The by-laws shall, amongst other things, provide for the licensing, inspection, and sanitary conditions of seamen's lodging houses, for the publication of the fact of a house being licensed, for the due execution of the by-laws, for preventing the obstruction of persons engaged in securing that execution, for the preventing of persons not duly licensed holding themselves out as keeping or purporting to keep licensed houses, and for the exclusion from licensed houses of persons of improper character, and shall impose sufficient fines, not exceeding fifty pounds, for the breach of any by-law.

"(3) The by-laws shall come into force from a date therein named, and shall be published in the London Gazette and in one newspaper, at the least, circulating in the district, and designated by the Board of Trade.

“(4) If the local authority do not, within a time in each case named by the Board of Trade, make, revoke, or alter any by-laws under this section, the Board of Trade may do so.

(5) Whenever Her Majesty in council orders that in any district or any part thereof none but persons duly licensed, in pursuance of by-laws under this section, shall keep seamen's lodging houses or let lodgings to seamen from a date therein named, a person acting in contravention of that order shall, for each offense, be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.

"(6) A local authority may defray all expenses incurred in the execution of this section out of any funds at their disposal as sanitary authority, and fines recovered for a contravention of this section, or of any by law under this section, shall be paid to such authority and added to those funds.

"(7) In this section the expression local authority' means, in the administrative county of London, the county council, and elsewhere in England the local authority under the public health acts, and in Scotland the local authority under the public health (Scotland) act, 1867, and the acts amending the same, and in Ireland the local authority under the public health (Ireland) act, 1878, and the expression 'district' means the area under the authority of such local authority."

By-laws have been made by the sanitary authorities at the following ports: Middlesbro, South Shields, Liverpool, Cardiff, Tynemouth, Penarth, Barry, and Cadoxton. These by-laws have been approved by the Board of Trade as required by the section. At two of these ports, viz, Penarth and Barry, orders in council have been issued providing that none but persons duly licensed under the by-laws shall keep seamen's lodging houses or let lodgings to seamen. The Board of Trade are of opinion that on the whole these by-laws have worked satisfactorily.

"215. If a person demands or receives from a seaman or apprentice to the sea service payment in respect of his board or lodging in the house of that person for a longer period that the seaman or apprentice has actually resided or boarded therein that person shall for each offense be liable to a fine not exceeding ten pounds,

"216. (1) If a person receives or takes into his possession or under his control any money or effects of a seaman or apprentice to the sea service and does not return the same or pay the value thereof when required by the seaman or apprentice, subject to such deduction as may be justly due to him from the seaman or apprentice in respect of board or lodging or otherwise, or absconds therewith he shall for each offense be liable to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.

“(2) A court of summary jurisdiction may, besides inflicting a fine, by summary order direct the amount of the money, or the value of the effects, subject to such deduction as aforesaid, if any, or the effects themselves to be forthwith paid or delivered to the seaman or apprentice."

Action under these sections would only be taken in a court of law. The superintendent's duty would be to advise and to report infringements to the Board of Trade.

"217. If within twenty-four hours after the arrival of a ship at a port in the United Kingdom a person then being on board the ship solicits a seaman to become a lodger at the house of a person letting lodgings for hire, or takes out of the ship any effects of a seaman, except under the personal direction of the seaman and with the permission of the master, he shall for each offense be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds."

The larger powers conferred by the following section (218) would tend, no doubt, to lessen prosecutions being taken under the above:

218. Where a ship is about to arrive, is arriving, or has arrived at the end of her voyage, and any person not being in Her Majesty's service or not being duly authorized by law for the purpose (a) goes on board the ship without the permission of the master, before the seamen lawfully leave the ship at the end of their engagement, or are discharged (whichever last happens), or (b) being on board the ship remains there after being warned to leave by the master, or by a police officer, or by any officer of the Board of Trade or of the customs, that person shall for each offense be liable to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months; and the master of the ship or any officer of the Board of Trade may take him into custody and deliver him up forthwith to a constable to be taken before a court capable of taking cognizance of the offense."

Superintendents are instructed that the officer who boards the vessel is to ascertain whether persons found on board other than those excepted by the section have received the master's permission to be on board. If not he is to require such persons to leave the ship. If they refuse to do so the case is to be reported to the Board of Trade for prosecution. At the express desire of the master or mate of the ship the Board's officer may take such persons into custody and remove them by force. Superintendents are directed, however, to use their discretion in carrying out these instructions.

"219. Whenever it is made to appear to Her Majesty that the government of a foreign country (a) has provided that unauthorized persons going on board British ships which are about to arrive or have arrived within its territorial jurisdiction shall be subject to provisions similar to those of the last preceding section, which are applicable to persons going on board British ships at the end of their voyages, and (b) is desirous that the provisions of the said section shall apply to unauthorized persons going on board ships of that foreign country within British territorial jurisdiction, Her Majesty in council may order that those provisions shall apply to the ships of that foreign country, and have effect as if the ships of that country arriving, about to arrive, or having arrived at the end of their voyage were British ships."

The same instructions are followed in the case of persons boarding vessels belonging to countries to which section 218 has been applied.

"249. The Board of Trade may dispense with the transaction in a mercantile marine office, or before a superintendent, of any matters required by this act to be so transacted; and thereupon those matters, if otherwise duly transacted, shall be as valid as if they were transacted in such an office or before a superintendent."

This section has been acted upon with regard to the engagement and discharge of seamen. The Board of Trade, under certain conditions, allow such business to be transacted on board ship, as well at a mercantile marine office. They have not, however, seen their way to permit the presence of a superintendent or deputy superintendent to be dispensed with in respect of this or any other business. Primarily, engagement and discharge on board has been allowed to meet the convenience of shipowners whose vessels are not long in port and who wish to discharge and reengage their crews with the least possible loss of time. But the system also helps to prevent the crimp from getting at and defrauding the seaman.


Following is the text of the British law abolishing imprisonment for desertion in Great Britain:

"222. (1) If in the United Kingdom a seaman or apprentice is guilty of the offense of desertion or of absence without leave, or otherwise absents himself from his ship without leave, the master, any mate, the owner, ship's husband, or consignee of the ship may, with or without the assistance of the local police officers or constables, convey him on board his ship, and those officers and constables are hereby directed to give assistance if required.

"(2) Provided, that if the seaman or apprentice so requires he shall first be taken before some court capable of taking cognizance of the matter to be dealt with according to law.


"(3) If it appears to the court before whom the case is brought that the seaman or apprentice has been conveyed on board or taken before the court on improper or insufficient grounds, that court may inflict on the master, mate, owner, ship's husband, or consignee, as the case may be, a fine not exceeding twenty pounds; but the infliction of that fine shall be a bar to any action for false imprisonment in respect of the arrest."

“223. (1) If out of the United Kingdom, either at the commencement or during the progress of any voyage, a seaman or apprentice is guilty of the offense of desertion or of absence without leave, or otherwise absents himself from his ship without leave, the master, any mate, the owner, ship's husband, or consignee may, in any place in Her Majesty's dominions out of the United Kingdom, with or without the assistance of the local police officers or constables (and those officers and constables are hereby directed to give assistance if required), and also at any place out of Her Majesty's dominions, if and so far as the laws in force at that place will permit, arrest him without first procuring a warrant.

"(2) A person so arresting a seaman or apprentice may in any case, and shall in case the seaman or apprentice so require and it is practicable, convey him before some court capable of taking cognizance of the matter to be dealt with according to law, and for that purpose may detain him in custody for a period not exceeding twentyfour hours, or such shorter time as may be necessary; but if the seaman or apprentice does not require to be so taken before a court, or if there is no such court at or near the place, the person arresting him may at once convey him on board his ship.

"(3) If it appears to the court before whom the case is brought that an arrest under this section has been made on improper or on insufficient grounds the master, mate, owner, ship's husband, or consignee who made the arrest, or caused it to be made, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds; but the infliction of that fine shall be a bar to any action for false imprisonment in respect of the arrest.

"(4) If out of the United Kingdom a seaman or apprentice is imprisoned for having been guilty of the offense of desertion or of absence without leave, or for having committed any other breach of discipline, and during his imprisonment and before his engagement is at an end, his services are required on board his ship, a justice of the peace may, on the application of the master or of the owner or his agent, notwithstanding that the period of imprisonment is not at an end, cause the seaman or apprentice to be conveyed on board his ship for the purpose of proceeding on the voyage, or to be delivered to the master or any mate of the ship, or to the owner or his agent, to be by them so conveyed."


Following are the reports of American consuls on the law abolishing imprisonment just quoted:


After painstaking investigation of the matter I am of the opinion that paragraph 222 of the British merchant shipping act of 1894 operates satisfactorily to all interests and is regarded generally as an improvement on matters as they stood before the present law went into effect. The section which empowers those authorized under the act to convey aboard a seaman or apprentice guilty of the offense of desertion or absence without leave, provided he does not require to be brought before a court capable of dealing with the matter, is considered beneficial in every respect. Often masters advance sums of money to their seamen to enable them to get their "kits" (personal effects) out of pawn or to pay small board bills or other necessary items, and the men frequently apply the advances in ways other than intended. It was no satisfaction to the masters or owners to know that men so offending would suffer imprisonment for a limited time. The money so advanced was lost unless sufficient wages became or had become due to deduct such sums before the section in question nad been contravened. Prison bars restored nothing, and the case was not materially

modified by the general custom of paying advance wages by means of notes on the ship's agents to be cashed after the ship should have sailed. ~ Manifestly the imprisonment system was unsatisfactory.

Now, when a seaman signs for a voyage he has got to keep to his agreement or get well out of the way of the ship's officers and the officers of the law. He may cause trouble; indeed, he very often does; but the master gets the labor bargained for and the seaman is removed from the temptations that crowd thickly the hours of idleness ashore, and which too frequently impair his capacity for usefulness. When in prison he was worse than idle, he was in legal disgrace. Happily the power to arrest is hedged in by strong safeguards, and no seaman may be unjustly held or dealt with. These conclusions I have arrived at, not from much personal knowledge of the subject, since as pertaining to British seamen it is a matter apart from my duties, but from the experience or observat.on of those directly concerned. It is proper to say, however, that a chief reliance for information has been upon neither owner, master, nor man, but upon the clerk of the petty sessions court at Queenstown, Mr. Frank Heney, who may be accepted as an expert, for he has had to deal officially with disputes between masters and men for twenty years, and is a close observer, as he is a man of high character and ability. He is at present bringing through the press a digest of that colossal shipping act of 1894, expert preliminary criticism of which is in the highest degree favorable.

As a matter of fact, I beg leave to add that since the year 1880 (43 and 44 Vic., cap. 16) the power to imprison for desertion has been abolished. The act of 1894 consolidates the act of 1880, as it does the provisions of all previous enactments not abrogated. No better argument, it seems to me, could be adduced than that imprisonment has been abolished for fifteen years and that no complaint has been known against such abolition. The act of 1880 gave the power to rescind contracts in cases of disputes between masters or owners and seamen. That power is likewise in the act of 1894. (See section 168.) So, taking everything into consideration, it will be observed that every facility is granted to master, owner, seaman, or apprentice to have cause of complaint decided in an impartial manner.


As the result of my inquiries I find that the paragraph in question is a dead letter owing to the failure of the police to carry it out, in which they receive the support of the local magistrates. Even could it be put in force the fact of having to take a seaman before a magistrate would in the majority of cases cause so much trouble and loss of time that masters would prefer to blacklist the man and engage a substitute more susceptible to discipline. Seamen are always plentiful here, and my experience has been that masters rather encourage men to desert than otherwise. The system which has obtained in England for many years of blacklisting men for desertion is more than an adequate punishment for this offense, and in a port like Southampton, where all the large steamships act in concert, and sailing vessels rarely enter, such punishment is severely felt.


I find the owners and masters of British vessels a unit on this subject. They are not satisfied with the law as it now stands, and prefer the old law of punishment by imprisonment. They claim that section 222 is practically inoperative, inasmuch as, in cases of desertion or absence without leave within the United Kingdom, which generally takes place at the port of departure for some foreign country, and an arrest under the present law is made by any of the ship's officers, and the seamen demand to be taken before a court, there is no one to do this, because the officers must sail with the ship within a few hours. They, therefore, as a general rule, let the seamen go without attempting to take them back to the ship, preferring to fill their places at the docks. So far, within the time that the act has been a law, there has not been much difficulty in finding such substitutes for deserters and absentees. They further claim that under the old law imprisonment acted as a deterrent against such absences and desertions, but under the present statute there is no remedy to the shipowner other than section 222, except a civil action for damages for breach of contract, which remedy is absolutely worthless. Most of the seamen are without property, and a judgment for damages, if obtained, can not be collected. They further claim that in cases of strikes among seamen the organized unions of sailors will send their men down to sign on board of a vessel, and the owner and master, supposing that a crew is engaged, will get ready and advertise to sail at a certain hour. When the time for sailing arrives the crew are found absent, leaving perhaps but an hour or two before the sailing time. Having no fear of punishment by imprisonment the seamen understand that they can do this with impunity. This is especially trying at Glasgow, where a ship must sail within an hour or two of high tide or wait twelve hours for another flow,

The masters and owners would find no serious fault with section 222 if the remedy by imprisonment also existed. They also complain of subsection 3, which acts as a deterrent to arrest under section 222, as the fear of a fine intervenes if the court shall find, as it may, that the arrest was improper or on insufficient grounds.

I also interviewed some of the shipping officers of the British Board of Trade, and found among them a difference of opinion-some holding the views of the owners and masters as above given, and some inclining to the views of the seamen, which are hereafter stated.

The seamen appear to be well satisfied with the act of 1894, with the exception of a few clauses. Those interviewed by me were unanimous in their approval of section 222 as a substitute for the old law of punishment by imprisonment. They ask, with some show of justice, why should a seaman before he has departed from the United Kingdom, or left his sailing port on a sea voyage, be imprisoned for a mere breach of a civil contract any more than a person in any other employment or calling? They insist that section 222 imposes no hardship upon the vessel owners or masters, and that it gives to the seamen only common justice, putting them on an equality with other laborers and employees. They say that if, on account of the sailing, none of the ship's officers can take the seaman before a court if he demands it, that the owner or his agents who do not sail upon the ship can do so, or the sailor can be turned over to the police to be conveyed before the court, where the master may appear and prove his case against such seaman, either personally or by counsel; that it, therefore, need work no inconvenience to the ship or prevent its sailing, as, in these hard times there are always at the docks and shipping offices plenty of able seamen anxiously awaiting employment.

Under subsection 2 of section 224 of the same act, by giving forty-eight hours' notice, a seaman can avoid arrest even, under section 222. This suits neither side of the controversy-the owners not liking the clause at all, and the seamen insisting that the time should be limited to twelve hours or at least twenty-four, as they claim most of the men sailing from Glasgow are not "signed on" or enlisted until about twelve hours before the vessel sails.

In obtaining views of the seamen, I interviewed, among others, the officers of the Seamen's Union in Glasgow, who, of course, agreed with the seamen.


The consensus of opinion is that the section in question is not an adequate substitute for the old law, and consequently that it is not regarded as satisfactory by shipowners and shipmasters. In reply to my inquiry a firm of steamship owners, whose vessels are employed in the Mediterranean trade, writes as follows:

"As owners, we are distinctly of opinion that the present section is simply a travesty of its predecessor, and like many other sections of our merchant shipping act, could scarcely have been framed or approved by anyone practically acquainted with shipping. As the act now stands the seamen and the master of the ship enter into an agreement supposed to be mutually binding. The former can, at their own caprice, at any time before sailing, repudiate the contract, whilst the latter is held to absolute compliance with its provisions under pain, in default, of substantial penalties. This is law. It is not equity."

Another firm having vessels engaged in the West Indian, New Orleans, and Pernambuco trade, says:

"Section 222 is good so far as it goes, giving full power to arrest the seaman or apprentice, who can be taken on board, or, if he insists upon it, taken before a court, which can, by section 224, order him to be put on board. One difficulty is when the man can not at once be found so as to be arrested and the ship sails without him. We see no section which punishes the man who refuses to join except by making deductions from his wages, which is useless when he has earned none. Another difficulty is that the court provided by section 222 can only order him to be conveyed on board, and can not punish him at all if the ship has gone to sea and he has earned no wages."

The agents of one of the Atlantic lines say of the clauses in question:

"They have never been satisfactory to shipowners, and have worked most injuriously. *.* While these clauses are injurious to shipowners, still they would be wise to be content with the situation for a while longer rather than risk a whole lot of fresh legislation."

Another line in the Atlantic trade says:

"Numerous instances could be cited where whole crews of vessels have refused to obey orders and have come ashore in order to enforce the exclusion of men not of the same union, and the only recourse was to summons them before a magistrate, entailing the detention of the ship. The result has almost invariably been that they were ordered to forfeit two days' pay, when no pay had been earned. The only deterrent, therefore, to a repetition of such conduct is the prospect of the loss of

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