HC Deb 07 December 1966 vol 737 cc1354-5
41. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Attorney General if he will ask the Law Commission to consider, as a matter of priority, the consolidation of the Merchant Shipping Acts.

The Attorney-General

No. As the Law Commission has said, any attempt to consolidate these Acts now would call for an expenditure of effort which would not be justified, because what the Acts need is complete modernisation. Lord Pearson's Committee (whose Report is expected in the New Year) has been asked to review, in particular, Part II of the Act of 1894, which deals with the rights and duties of seamen.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would it not be advisable, as the 1894 Act was a consolidated Measure and as it has been amended on about 60 subsequent occasions, for some consolidation to take place, even though substantial alterations to the Act are proposed? Would it not be advisable first to consolidate and then to proceed with the alterations which the Attorney-General has said will take place?

The Attorney-General

The view which has been expressed on this by the Law Commission, with which I agree, is that, useful as it may be to reproduce the Merchant Shipping Acts in a single modern Statute, it would call for expenditure and effort necessarily to be diverted from other things, which could not be justified when the Acts, at many points, in the view of the Board of Trade and ourselves, are in need of modernisation and substance. I think that on reflection the hon. and learned Gentleman will come to the same conclusion.

Sir. J. Hobson

Can the Attorney-General say when he expects the new legislation will be introduced to reform the Merchant Shipping Acts?

The Attorney-General

I am afraid that I cannot give a date for that.