Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary Sum, not exceeding£245,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of certain Mercantile Marine services, including the expenses of the Coastguard and the General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. G. R. Strauss)
The explanation of this Vote is a simple one. There has been a substantial delay in presenting these claims, and the additional amount paid out for seamen's effects is £45,000, and for loss of wages, £62,500. Survivors from wrecked ships are entitled to shipwreck pay. Half is paid by the shipowners, and half by the Ministry. An announcement was made to end the scheme of shipwreck pay in November, 1946, and that gave rise to an unexpected increase in the claims made. There was also a number of Chinese seamen—we could not estimate how many, because they were interned in foreign countries—who have come forward and claimed under this scheme. Those two items together make up the estimate.
§ Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)
I have listened to the presentation of a number of Estimates, and always the same story is given about underestimating. Is this the end of the story, or are we likely to hear it again another year?
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary about the seamen's charities. It used to be the custom that certain payments to which seamen became entitled when they were distressed, or had been shipwrecked, were paid by the Government under their terms of service. They were disbursed through the organisations, and sometimes directly through the Government. Could the Parliamentary Secretary give information under this heading to cover those charitable items? Could he say whether they are being paid direct at the present time, or through the pools, or through the 317 recognised seamen's organisations of a charitable character?
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
The Minister has been very kind in explaining the items, and has saved a lot of time of the Committee, for which I would like to commend him, but he has not dealt with item G2, which is the larger part of the Vote, and deals with Merchant Navy Reserve Pools. Will he say a word about that, and particularly whether that is a permanent part of our arrangements?
§ Mr. Strauss
I apologise for having omitted to say anything about that. In answer to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) I am not quite sure what are the channels of payment at the moment, but I will find out, and communicate with the hon. Member.
I regret that I forgot to say anything about G2—Merchant Navy Reserve Pools. The amount there is rather higher than we estimated for two reasons. The enrolment in the pool was greater than was expected, and although the Essential Work Order came to an end at the end of last year, we extended the provisions of the pool to 31st March this year. on condition that a new pool scheme would be agreed to by the industry by the end of January this year. I am pleased to say that that pool scheme has been agreed, is now being worked out, and the administration will be set up shortly. That has involved an additional payment in respect of that pool scheme which, in total, will amount to £298,000.
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £245,000. be granted to His Majesty. to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of certain Mercantile Marine services, including the expenses of the Coastguard and the General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen.