asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that some 800 certificated wireless operators, mostly ex-service men, have been discharged by wireless companies since the institution of watchers on cargo ships; and whether, seeing that, as a result of the lack of expert knowledge in the Mercantile Marine telegraph service, the danger of failing to notice distress calls has been enhanced, and such failure was one of the causes of the loss both of the ss. "Rowan" and of the Peninsular and Oriental liner "Egypt," he will consider the desirability of abolishing wireless watchers in the Mercantile Marine and of re-employing certificated operators in their stead?
I am aware that there is unemployment among wireless operators, but the main cause is the general depression in shipping which affects all classes of officers and men of the Mercantile. Marine. As regards the question of the efficiency of watchers, I would refer to the answers given to the hon. Member for the Govan Division (Mr. Maclean) on the 10th April and 15th May. Pending the results of the Court of Inquiry which is being held into the loss of the s.s. "Egypt," I am not in a position to say whether there was any failure in the wireless service on the occasion of her loss. I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of the Report of the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee on Watchers.