§ 17. Mr. James Hall
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the general practice of shipowners to stop an officer's or seaman's wages as soon as such person is put ashore through 1971 sickness or injury; that the allotments to the dependants of an officer or seaman are thereby stopped, with the result that the dependants concerned may be reduced to destitution; that in the case of injuries no compensation is paid to the seaman affected until such time as he is landed in the United Kingdom; that certain officers are ineligible for benefits under the Health Insurance Acts; and whether he will initiate remedial measures by way of amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act or otherwise?
The payment of wages and allotments ordinarily ceases when sick or injured seamen have been discharged abroad with official sanction, but provision is made in the National Health Insurance Acts for the payment of benefit to the dependants of insured persons who are left abroad sick or injured. I am aware that many of the senior officers do not come within the scope of the Insurance Acts, but I understand that a number of companies continue the payment of wages and allotments in these cases. Claims for compensation in respect of injuries can only be initiated in this country, but provision is made in the Merchant Shipping Acts for the maintenance, treatment and repatriation of all sick and injured seamen left abroad. In the circumstances I do not consider that a revision of the law is necessary.
I have given a rather long answer explaining the position, and in view of that position I have said that I do not consider that a review of the law is necessary.