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Ss "Sheldrake" (Arrested Seamen)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement regarding the recent arrest of the crew of the Liverpool ship, s.s. "Sheldrake," in Canada.

Reports from the Canadian authorities state that 18 deck and engine room ratings of the s.s. "Sheldrake" refused to carry out their duties on 7th May at Montreal. All efforts at a settlement failed and the men were duly charged with wilful disobedience to a lawful command and taken into custody on 8th May. After two adjournments the men were released on parole on 12th May for trial on 18th May, and were being cared for at the Sailors' Institute. Full reports and the result of the proceedings have not yet been received, but I understand that the 18 seamen have been sentenced to three weeks' imprisonment.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, unfortunately, I have received reports that this crew received unsatisfactory treatment whilst under arrest, and as one is aware that any such reports will cause concern to the Canadian authorities, will the Minister investigate that aspect of the matter?

I will certainly look at that if the information is given. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the circumstances were fully explained to the men before sailing, namely, that they would be subject to receiving British National Maritime Board wages. However, I will at once look into any suggestion which the hon. Gentleman makes.