(1) If any person, not being entitled to wear the British mercantile marine uniform, wear that uniform or any part thereof, or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the distinctive marks of that uniform, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, if he wears it in such a manner or under such circumstances as to be likely to bring contempt on the uniform, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding one month:
Provided that this Section shall not prevent any person from wearing any uniform or dress in the course of a stage play performed in a place duly licensed or authorised for the public performance of stage plays or in the course of a music hall or circus performance.
§ (2) If any person entitled to wear the British mercantile marine uniform when aboard a ship in port or on shore appears dressed partly in uniform and partly not in uniform under such circum stances as to be likely to bring contempt on the uniform, or, being entitled to wear the uniform appropriate to a particular rank or position, wears the uniform appropriate to some higher rank or position, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
The following Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
To leave out the words:Provided that this Section shall not prevent any person from wearing any uniform or dress in the course of a stage play performed in a place duly licensed or authorised for the public performance of stage plays or in the course of a music hall or circus peformance.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not propose to move this Amendment, in view of the very generous way in which the Department has met the wishes of myself and other hon. Members by proposing to put in the very admirable words to prevent the use of this well-earned and honourable uniform being brought into contempt in the music halls.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Bridge-man)
I beg to move to leave out the words, "Of a stage play performed in a place duly licensed or authorised for the public performance of stage plays or in the course of a music hall or circus performance," and to insert instead thereof the words, "Or for the purposes of a stage play or representation or a music hall or circus performance if the uniform is not worn in such a manner or under such circumstances as to bring it into contempt."
The Amendment is intended to meet two points which were raised in Committee upstairs, the first, that mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and, secondly, to meet a point which was raised by an hon. Member who thought the words of the Clause might exclude the preparation of a cinema performance from the scope of the proviso. With regard to the first point, I still think the Bill as it stood would have prevented the uniform being used on the stage in such a way as to bring it into contempt, but for the sake of safety and to calm the apprehensions of hon. Members, I have added these words. The words "for the purposes of" and "representation" in my Amendment enable uniforms to be worn in the preparation of a cinema play.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (2). I regret that I must press this Amendment. This uniform has been granted at the request of the Mercantile Marine, partly no doubt in recognition of their gallant services, and it seems to me that this Sub-section is altogether unnecessary and may lead to friction. I believe that discipline on board ships of the Mercantile Marine is good and is improving as a better class of men go to sea. I believe the officers of the Mercantile Marine can keep discipline themselves quite well and the captain of a merchant ship can very soon call over the coals a young officer who does not wear his uniform properly, and 1 am quite sure he can be trusted to do it. In regard to the point of the young officer who wears the uniform of a higher rank, if he were found doing it in Liverpool or Hull or other great ports I am sure he would get snubbed. A case might arise in which an officer abroad might have been serving as first officer on a ship and for some reason had to leave his ship, and he 1776 might have taken a passage home on a vessel as second officer. He would have had no opportunity of altering his uniform or getting a new one, and he might technically come under this Clause and be liable to a penalty of £5. Those who know the British Mercantile Marine know it has obtained its high standard not by any rigid discipline at all, but by the natural genius of the British seafaring man, and this is particularly represented in the free and easy discipline, and so of; and this idea of making a man liable to penalties is, I, think, dangerous. I would like to ask in any case who is going to enforce this on board merchant ships in harbour? Who is going round to see if officers are properly dressed, or who is going to arrest an officer or take his name and address, and run him in if he is found improperly dressed on shore? I think it is a dangerous Clause and might be left out.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I hope the Amendment will not be pressed, because it is a very essential part of the Bill. When the uniform was worn under an Order in Council there was at first no penalty attached, but afterwards some kind of penalty, under the Defence of the Realm Act, I believe, was added. We have been approached to draft a Bill with the object of imposing a penalty. A pledge was given last Session in the House of Commons on behalf of the Board of Trade that we would do it, and it is to fulfil that pledge that this penalty Clause is put in. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was very solicitous, when he was moving the Amendment to protect the uniform on the stage, that no indignity should be offered to the uniform. He has no solicitude at all about contempt being incurred when the uniform is worn in streets or anywhere else. There are only two penalties — one for wearing the uniform of a higher rank, and the other for wearing the uniform in an improper way—that is to say, only part of the uniform, the rest of the dress not being uniform. We have had the pleasure of seeing the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself dressed in both kinds of costume, and we have not taken exception to either one or the other worn in the proper way; but if he were to arrive here dressed partly in one, and partly in the other, I am quite sure we should consider he was bringing the uniform into con- 1777 tempt, and I think the penalty of £5 is a very small one. The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked how the man would be prosecuted. The Mercantile Marine Association, who want this, will report a case to the Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade will take steps to see it is brought to justice. Therefore, I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not press this, and, if he does, I hope the House will not support him.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed, with an Amendment.