§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD SOMERLEYTON
My Lords, The object of this Bill is to extend to Scottish fishing vessels and fishermen the provisions of Part IV of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. At present Part IV—dealing with fishing vessels and fishermen generally—does not apply, except as regards registry of fishing vessels, their life saving appliances and in one or two smaller matters, to Scotland. The Bill will bring all Scottish fishermen under the disciplinary sections of Part IV, and will provide for the settlement of disputes between skippers and fishermen by superintendents of mercantile marine offices, and for these officers to inquire into deaths and injuries on fishing vessels. The Bill will require agreements on a Board of Trade form with the crew of fishing vessels of 25 tons and upwards, and men employed in such vessels will have to receive an account of wages on a Board of Trade form, and a certificate of service on a Board of Trade form, on discharge. Boys employed on fishing vessels of 25 tons and upwards will have to be engaged by an indenture of apprenticeship or by a written agreement.
1013 The need for the extension of these provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, to Scotland has been pressed upon the Board of Trade by the owners of Scottish fishing vessels and others concerned for many years. Last year a serious dispute occurred between owners of fishing vessels and fishermen at Aberdeen, and the whole industry was held up for a considerable time; an experienced officer was sent by the Board of Trade to visit the principal Scottish fishing ports at the end of last year, to go into the matter fully with representatives of owners, skippers and fishermen. He found that they were all in favour of the extension of the legal requirements at present in operation in England and Wales to Scottish fishing vessels and Scottish fishermen.
The owners want the extension of Part IV to Scotland because this will provide penalties for breaches of discipline, will give them the help of the Board of Trade in maintaining discipline, and will enable the Board of Trade superintendent to issue a warrant for the arrest of deserting seamen. The men employed on Scottish fishing vessels want this extension of the law because by having a written agreement, with wages accounts on discharge, they will know better what their rights are as regards wages, and the balance of wages due; and in any case of dispute they can go to the superintendent of the mercantile marine office, who can be trusted to deal with the matter impartially.
The Secretary for Scotland supports this legislation and I trust your Lordships will give it favourable consideration.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Somerleyton.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.