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Nature volume 82, pages 369371 (27 January 1910) | Download Citation



FOR a considerable time past dissatisfaction has been felt in certain quarters with the methods adopted by the Board of Trade in examining in colour-vision candidates for certificates as master or mate in the mercantile marine. On June 30, 1909, Lord Muskerry directed attention to the matter in the House of Lords, using the cases of Mr. W. H. Glover and Mr. John Trattles as the text of his argument, and moving that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the conditions under which eyesight tests for the mercantile marine certificates were conducted. Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, in reply, stated that during the last four years 25,151 candidates were examined; of these 239 failed in the colour-vision tests; 64 appealed, with the result that 27 passed and 37 were rejected. The tests, based upon the report of a committee of the Royal Society, which sat at the request of the Board of Trade in 1890, were considered to be efficient as at present carried out. He held that no case had been made out for the appointment of a Select Committee. The Marquis of Salisbury said he had, perhaps, a special claim to be heard in this matter, because he was colour-blind himself. He was convinced that colour-blindness was capricious; on some days he was very much more colour-blind than on other days. But from the point of view of the Board of Trade and of the mercantile marine such caprice must be very dangerous. The motion was by leave withdrawn.

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