MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, the unsatisfactory condition of employment of Lascar seamen on board British ships, and the infringement of the Merchant Shipping Act by shipping companies in failing to provide the said Lascar seamen with the proper special accommodation provided by the Statute.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I have looked at the Notice of Motion which the hon. Gentleman has handed to me. I do not think it is one which comes within the terms of Standing Order 17. That Standing Order provides that the Motion must relate to a definite matter of urgent public importance. Of course the employment of sailors and their treatment are matters of great public importance, but whether, in the shape in which they are referred to in this Motion, they are urgent within the meaning of the Standing Order, may be a matter of doubt. I am clearly of opinion, however, that this is not a definite matter, which it is essential it should be, in order to bring the Motion within the rules. It would involve inquiry by the House into the conditions of employment of Lascar seamen on board British ships in general; it would mean inquiry into their treatment in a vast number of cases, and it would be impossible for the House on such a Motion to discuss the details of alleged infringements of the Merchant Shipping Act by shipping companies in failing to provide Lascar seamen with the proper special accommodation provided by the Statute. These are matters entirely of detail, and I think the Standing Order intended that the matter to be discussed should be 1615 a definite matter, and that it was not intended to include such matters as this. Therefore I deem it to be my duty not to submit the Motion to the House.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I should like to ask your ruling in regard to the latter portion of the Motion—eamely, whether the infringement of an Act of Parliament is not a definite matter of urgent public importance.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
That would depend upon the particular case put before me. What is put before me here is the general infringement of an Act of Parliament by shipping companies in general.