HC Deb 10 November 1943 vol 393 cc1136-7
42. Mr. E. P. Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the fact that a cadet in the Merchant Navy having served a period of three years at sea is expected to come home and take a promotion course of two or, if necessary, three months, and is paid for the first two months by the Merchant Navy Pool and for the third has to depend upon his unemployment insurance of 16s. per week for all expenses, he will consider extending the pay by the Merchant Navy Pool to cover the third month, and thus end the anomaly of paying such a cadet as an unemployed person when, in fact, he is fully occupied?

Mr. Noel-Baker

As I informed my hon. Friend last week, the National Maritime Board made an agreement in July, 1942, under which leave ashore with pay is allowed for two months to cadets and deck ratings who are candidates for the second mate's certificate examination. This agreement had the full approval of the officers' and men's societies, and I should not feel justified in asking the Board to reconsider it.

Mr. Smith

Does the hon. Gentleman consider that 16s. a week for total living expenses ashore is the right or proper remuneration for these lads in the Merchant Navy?

Mr. Noel-Baker

These all receive the new concession since the war, and indeed it is a concession that unemployment pay should be allowed for this purpose. I would point out to my hon. Friend that the agreement made by the industry with the National Maritime Board is based on their belief, which they all accept, that two months should be enough for the average man to get through this examination.

Mr. Shinwell

Are not these men fully employed in the course of training and not unemployed at all, and if they are in the course of training which is so necessary in order to get personnel for the Mercantile Marine; why not pay them for the third month?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The point really is that the period of two months ought to be enough for the average man to get through, and if you allowed three months, the maximum would tend to become the minimum, and everybody would take it, and the general interest would suffer.