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MAIL SHIPS' ACT, 1891.

(Chapter 31.)

An Act to enable Her Majesty in Council to carry into effect Conventions which may be made with foreign countries respecting ships engaged in Postal Service.

Section 1. Where Her Majesty has made a Convention with a foreign state respecting the postal service, or respecting the privileges of mail ships, this Act may be applied by Order in Council, subject to any conditions, exceptions and qualifications.

The order shall recite the terms of the Convention, which may be varied or revoked by subsequent Order in Council, but shall not continue in force for any longer period than Convention.

All Orders in Council shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and to be notified in London Gazette.

Section 2. Conveyance of letters by crew or passengers of mail ships, British or foreign, to which the Convention applies, is forbidden, other than letters contained in mail bags entrusted to the master by a postal officer of the United Kingdom or of any foreign state, or than the despatches sent by the Government either of the United Kingdom or of any foreign state.

Contravention of this section by any person on board entails a penalty of £5.

The master wilfully failing to secure observance of the section is liable to a fine of £5.

Section 3. Regulation compelling owners of ships engaged in postal service to give security for the execution of postal contract where subsidized within the meaning of the Convention. High Court in England to fix nature and amount of security after hearing owner, and Board of Trade if they wish to be heard. Nature of security specified. Ships engaged in carrying mails under Convention to be deemed exempted mail ships and entitled to the exemption and privileges given by this Act. Notice of all applications respecting security to be given to Board of Trade. Where security deemed insufficient at any time Board of Trade may apply to High Court and require security to be made satisfactory, and in default ships to cease being exempted mail ships. Power of High Court to vary amount and nature of security, or dispose of same under certain rules.

Section 4. Arrest and execution of process against any person on board exempted mail ships in the United Kingdom without warrant, subject only to certain prescribed provisions. Refusal by master to permit a search of the ship in accordance with this section entails a penalty of £500.

Section 5. Exemption from seizure of exempted mail ship in Admiralty or other suits.

Section 6. Application of Act to public ships of foreign states when employed as mail ships where a Convention exists.

Section 7. Legal proceedings and mode of recovery of fines.

Section 8. Application of Act to British possessions may be made by Order in Council for the purpose of a Convention with a foreign state, subject to certain provisions.

Sections 9 and 10. Defines expressions used in Act, which may be cited as the Mail Ships' Act, 1891. Schedule of British possessions to which Act is applicable only upon the Government adhering to Convention.

FISHERIES' ACT, 1891.

ENGLAND AND BELGIUM. The declaration respecting the North Sea Fisheries between England and Belgium, legalised under Part of the Fisheries' Act, 1891, came into force on the 15th September, 1891. Owners and masters of fishing boats working in the North Sea should note that in future when a complaint is made by a British fisherman against a Belgian fisherman under the Convention of 1882, it will in the first instance be investigated by a commission appointed by the Board of Trade, who will decide whether it is sufficiently well grounded to be forwarded to the Belgian Government. In the United Kingdom this commission will be composed of at least two officers who shall hold their inquiry at the place where the allegations of the complainants can most easily be verified.

Section 4 of the Act is very important, as it imposes penalties in all cases where fishermen who foul or interfere with fishing gear of others, fail to take the needful means for reducing to a minimum the resulting injuries.

Power is authorised to award damages for injury to person or property at the request of the injured party, and at the suit of the official prosecutor in each country. The latter official in the United Kingdom shall at his own cost recover any sum awarded, or so much thereof as is possible from the parties liable. The amount of damages recovered shall be remitted free of cost to the injured party through the proper diplomatic channel.

MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1897 (UNDERMANNING, &C.)

The following is a copy of the Merchant Shipping Act (Undermanning), 1897 :

:

"AN ACT TO AMEND THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1894, WITH RESPECT TO THE POWER OF DETENTION FOR UNDERMANNING."

Be it enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, in this pres nt Parliameɛt assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

I.-(1) Section 459 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 (which gives power to detain unsafe ships), shall apply in the case of un fermanning, and accordingly that Section shall be construed as if the words "or by reason of undermanning were inserted therein after the word "machinery," and as if the words "or for ascer1aining the sufficiency of her crew were inserted after the word "surveyed," and as if the words "or the manning of the ship" were inserted therein after the words "re-loading of cargo," and the powers exercisable under or for the purposes of that Section shall inclu le power to muster the crew.

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(2) Section 462 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 (which relates to foreign ships), shall also apply in the case of undermanning, and accordingly that Section shall be construed as if the words or by reason of undermanning' were inserted therein after the words "improper loading."

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II. This Act may be cited as "The Merchant Shipping Act, 1897

The following is a copy of the Official Instructions as to procedure issued by the Board of Trade for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Act

UNDERMANNING.

BOARD OF TRADE INSTRUCTIONS AS TO PROCEDURE UNDER
MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1897.

Foreign going steamships of over 200 ft. in length, or not less than 700 tons gross, when proceeding to sea, should have, indepen. dently of the master and two mites, a sufficient number of deck hands available for division into two watches, so as to provide a minimum effective watch, viz., a competent hand at the wheel, a look-out man, and an additional hand on deck, available for any purpose.

In case of any such vessel opening or lodging Articles of Agreement, and failing to have six deck hands in addition to the master and two mates, the Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent should draw the master's attention to the fact, and immediately report the case in writing to the Resident Detaining Officer or Surveyor of the Board of Trade.

The resident Detaining Officer or Surveyor should at once, on receiving such notice from the Superintendent, visit the vessel, and point out to the master the necessity of providing the requisite number of deck hands, so that there may always be three on deck in addition to the officer of the watch. Should the master refuse to comply with this, the Detaining Officer should, if satisfied that the undermanning is such as to cause serious danger to life, have the ship provisionally detained.

In any case in which the Detaining Officer or Surveyor does not feel justified in detaining a ship as reported to him, he should immediately report the case to the Board of Trade, giving the reasons which have induced him to allow the vessel to proceed to sea.

When a steam vessel of less than 200 ft. in length, or less than 700 tons gross, or any steam vessel proceeding on a home trade or on a coasting voyage, appears to be unsafe through undermanning, the Detaining Officer should at once inspect the vessel, obtain all necessary particulars, and report fully to the Board of Trade.

When Articles of Agreement are being signed or deposited in the case of sailing vessels, the Superintendent should, if it appears to him that the number or efficiency of the crew is such as to fall materially below the general practice in similar vessels, as evidenced by the office records, bring the matter to the master's notice in careful and guarded terms, reporting it at the same time to the Detaining Officer of the Board of Trade. The Detaining Officer should at once have the vessel inspected and reported upon fully in the matter of rig, equipment, labur-saving appliances, intended voyage, together with details, if procurable, of sail area and number of cloths in head of main course, or any other particular likely to effect the question. These particulars should be sent at once to the Board of Trade, with a report from the Surveyor or Principal Officer as to whether he considers the vessel so undermanned as to be likely to lead to serious danger to life.

In carrying out the above instructions, due regard must be had to the nature of the service for which the vessel is intended.

In the case of foreign vessels, dealt with by Section 462 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, as amended by Section 1 (2) of the

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Act of 1897, as they do not require to go through Shipping Office formalities when in our ports, trustworthy information as to their manning will chiefly come to hand through formal complaint of the crew, or particulars supplied by Customs or Consular Officers. If such information be received, the vessel sh uld be visited, and the same course adopted as in the case of a British vessel, the officer being careful to use tact in pointing out to the master his requirements, and the result of non-compliance with the same, communicating at the same time with the Consul of the nation to which the vessel belongs. Where there is reason to believe that the law in force in any foreign country is such as to secure an efficient manning as is required in British ships, no attempt should be made to interfere with a vessel unless there be trustworthy evidence that such law has not been complied with.

SHIPPING WORLD

MERCHANT SHIPPING (LIABILITY OF SHIPOWNERS) ACT, 1898.

EXTENSION OF LIMITATION OF LIABILITY IN CERTAIN CASES OF LOSS OF LIFE, INJURY OR DAMAGE.

Section 1. Enacts that Sections 502 to 509 inclusive of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, shall extend and apply to the owners, builders, or other parties interested in any ship built at any port or place in Her Majesty's dominions, from and including the launching of such ship until the registration thereof, under Section 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, provided always that such owners, builders, or other parties interested as aforesaid shall not benefit under this section for a period beyond three months after the launching of such ship.

Section 2. Repeals so much of Section 508 of Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, as is inconsistent with the foregoing.

Section 3. For purposes of this Act, the tonnage of a ship shall be ascertained as provided by Section 503, Sub-Section 2 (b) and (c) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, with regard to foreign ships.

Section 4. For purposes of this Act " ship" shall include every description of vessel used or intended to be used in navigation not propelled by oars, and whether completed or in course of completion or construction.

Section 5. This Act may be cited as the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Shipowners) Act, 1898. MERCHANT SHIPPING (MERCANTILE MARINE FUND) ACT, 1898. [Came into operation April 1, 1899.]

(Chapter 44.)

"AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAW WITH REGARD TO THE PROVISION FOR THE PAYMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES UNDER THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1894, AND WITH REGARD TO THE LEVYING OF LIGHT DUES [12th Aug. 1898.].” Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows :

I.—(1) As from the commencement of this Act

(a) All sums accounted for and paid to the Mercantile Marine Fund, except the light dues or other sums mentioned in paragraph (1) of Section 676 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, shall be paid into the Exchequer :

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