HC Deb 26 April 1911 vol 24 cc1807-8

I rise to ask leave to bring in a Bill to bring share fishermen within the scope of the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906.

A very large number of fishermen are suffering owing to the operation of certain Clauses in the Workmen's Compensation Act. When that Act passed its Second Reading in this House it included the whole of the fishermen. While in Committee an Amendment was moved, owing to a deputation of share fishermen which made representations that such men as had a little boat of their own, or are partners in a boat or are partners in nets or in working a boat would be injured if they were included in the proposed Act. The effect of that Amendment being accepted was not only were these men excluded but thousands of other fishermen in England and Wales were also excluded. This is a very serious matter to a large number of share fishermen who are not partners in the ship at all or in the nets, but who are just as much workmen within the meaning of the Act as any other men in the ships. On every ship sailing from a port in Great Britain or Ireland there are at least two men who do not enjoy the advantage of the Workmen's Compensation Act. If there are eleven hands, nine are covered by the Act, but the two most important men on the ship, as a consequence of that Clause, are refused any advantage. There are thousands of such men, and every time a ship is lost with its hands two at least of the crew are not entitled to a penny piece of compensation, while all the minor men have the advantage of the Act. If a man is a third hand on a steam trawler he is included in the Act, but if he climbs a little higher and becomes a second hand he is excluded, and if he loses his life not a penny is paid as compensation under the Act. I submit that that was a mistake at the time. I do not wish to blame the Government in any way. I think that they were over-persuaded by a certain number of people, and did not take sufficient notice of how the application of the Clause would affect a very large number of men who were not partners in the sense that these share fishermen are. What we desire to do is to ask the Government to allow these share fishermen who are not partners to enjoy the benefits of the Workmen's Compensation Act. We do not desire in any sense to interfere with the share fisher- men. We say that if they are partners in nets, or hire the boats, as undoubtedly they do, they should remain as they are at the present time. But while granting to them that privilege, it seems to be a very wrong theory that thousands of these fishermen, industrious, brave men, should be refused the advantage of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Therefore I desire to ask the House to allow me to introduce this Bill, and I hope that, as it is a non-contentious measure, and as I am sure every Member of this House is a friend of the fishermen, it will be permitted to pass into law, so that these men may also receive the advantage of the Act.

Bill to bring share fishermen within the scope of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, ordered to be brought in by Sir George Doughty, Mr. Cave, Mr. Mac-master, Mr. Goulding, Mr. Crooks, and Sir William Bull. Presented accordingly and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Monday next.