HC Deb 16 December 1937 vol 330 cc1334-5
59. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that shipowners are declining to defray the hospital expenses of members of their crews suffering from infectious diseases and admitted from the ship to the hospitals of local and port sanitary authorities, and that certain shipowners rely for the evasion of these costs on the practice of informally paying off the patient when he is removed from the ship and thereafter claiming that he was no longer a member of the crew; and what advice has been given to local authorities in any such cases upon which the Ministry has been consulted?

Sir K. Wood

I am aware that questions of the kind to which the hon. Member refers have arisen from time to time. The legal position is not free from doubt, and I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the letter sent to a port health authority which consulted me in the matter.

Mr. Taylor

Is it not a fact that some shipowners are relying on the reluctance of local authorities to take proceedings, and will the Minister not associate himself with local authorities in taking action to prevent these evasions?

Sir K. Wood

Perhaps the hon. Member will kindly study the document to which I have referred and then have a word with me.

Mr. Paling

Are these the same shipowners who have been receiving large subsidies out of the public purse?

Mr. Garro Jones

Will the Minister of Health discontinue the practice of recommending local authorities to allow shipowners to get away with these evasions?