§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ Construction and survey regulations to secure compliance with Chapter II of Safety Convention.
§ 1.—(1) With a view to giving effect to the provisions relating to construction, machinery, equipment and the marking of load lines which are contained in Chapter II of the Safety Convention and the Regulations referred to therein, the construction regulations applicable to passenger steamers plying on international voyages shall (except in so far as effect is otherwise given to the said provisions by the Merchant Shipping Acts) include such requirements as will, in the opinion of the Board of Trade. secure that when a passenger steamer complies with the construction regulations so applicable, the steamer will also comply with the said provisions of the Safety Convention:
EARL STANHOPE moved to leave out subsection (1) down to the provisos and to insert:
.—(1) The Board of Trade shall make such regulations as appear to them to be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Chapter II of the Safety Convention and of the regulations referred to therein except in so far as effect is otherwise given to those provisions by this Act or by the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1928.
§ The noble Earl said: I think it will be for the convenience of the House and will shorten discussion if I make a general statement on two or three of the Amendments which I have put down—257
§ EARL STANHOPE
—the Amendments I propose to Clauses 1, 4, and 6 and the new clause which I propose to follow Clause 70. My conception of an international arrangement is this: first, that it should endeavour to secure that the trade and industry of this country should be placed on an equality with that of its competitors in foreign countries, and given a fair field, with no undue advantages, and no additional burdens; and, secondly—and this I think will appeal to the noble and learned Lord opposite—that, although, as regards domestic matters, an international arrangement may only set up a minimum standard, the whole essence of an international arrangement, which affects international matters, of which obviously shipping is one, should be to obtain uniformity and agreement.
Now, I am reinforced in my opinion as to the desire in making an international arrangement to obtain uniformity by referring to the Preamble of the Bill, which begins as follows:Whereas a Convention.… was signed on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom in London on the thirty-first day of May, nineteen hundred and twenty-nine, for promoting safety of life at sea by establishing in common agreement uniform principles and rules directed thereto:And whereas a Convention.… was signed on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom in London on the fifth day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty, for promoting safety of life and property at sea, by establishing in common agreement uniform principles and rules with regard to the limits to which ships on international voyages may be loaded:.…Be it therefore enacted.…and so on. Then I have a further argument to put before the House. There was an Empire Conference held to consider the operation of Dominion legislation and merchant shipping. In their Report in 1929, paragraph 98, I read as follows:It is desirable in the interests of all parts of the Commonwealth that uniform standards should be observed in all matters relating to the safety of the ship and those on board.If you do not obtain uniformity in regard to international matters, obviously you will not obtain agreement.
Supposing you get one nation which enacts legislation giving effect to the 258 Conventions only so far as the Conventions compel them to do so, that is to say, they only arrive at the minimum standard; supposing you get another nation which goes some degrees further; and supposing you get a third nation which goes a good deal further. Uniformity disappears; and, because it is an international arrangement, because it is shipping, which goes in and out of every port in the world, as you cease to get uniformity you then get differences of opinion. You get, perhaps, a grievance as to whether such and such a country really ought not to go rather further, and the whole essence of your international arrangement goes by the board. I think the noble and learned Lord will agree with me that the more you can abolish any cause of friction between countries in any possible cases of misunderstanding the greater is your chance of peace. Therefore, if you yourself are going to set the example to other countries of going beyond an international arrangement, and therefore perhaps cause doubts and difficulties to other countries, then you are not promoting the cause of peace or of international arrangements.
That is exactly what happens in this Bill. If your Lordships will turn to Clause 1 (1) you will see that with a view to giving effect to the provisions relating to construction, machinery, and so on contained in the Safety Convention,the construction regulations applicable to passenger steamers plying on international voyages shall. … include such requirements as will, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, secure that. … the steamer will also comply with the said provisions of the Safety Convention.That is to say that the Board of Trade will be given the power not only to make rules and regulations in accordance with the Convention, but to go beyond the Convention. In the first place, obviously the Hoard of Trade cannot legislate for Dominion ships, and therefore, if the Board of Trade makes a regulation beyond the limits of the Convention applying to British ships, that will be only to ships belonging to this country, and not to ships belonging to a Dominion. And therefore straight off you get a difference between ships registered in this country and ships registered in the Dominions. And therefore you come up against that Resolution which I have read 259 which was taken from the Empire Conference in regard to Dominion legislation.
But it goes further than that, because at the present moment the Board of Trade has the power to impose regulations on all ships coming into British ports. Since the Act of 1906 this country has taken the power to make regulations not only for British ships, but for all foreign ships coming into our ports, and of course the ships of the rest of the Empire as well, to say that whatever regulation we impose upon a British ship shall equally be imposed on foreign ships. Once this Convention is accepted and ratified that goes by the Board, because we agreed, as one of the countries which signed this Convention, to accept a Convention certificate in place of any rule or regulation which at present exists under our law. Therefore, any foreign country which ratifies the Convention will simply say: "Here is my certificate. This ship is in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Convention. All you have to do is to see that the rules and regulations in the certificate are complied with, and you can go no further."
That results in this, that the Board of Trade can impose regulations on British ships just as far as it pleases, and possibly a great deal further than the Convention lays down, and the foreign ship will then say: "Well, that does not apply to me. The Convention only enacts such and such things. Those I comply with, and I need do no more." Your Lordships will see, therefore, that if the Bill is passed in its present form, British ship-owners will be placed in a very much worse position than they are in at present. So strongly do they feel about it that, although the ship-owners and everybody connected with shipping have been asking to obtain this Convention for a very long number of years and are very anxious indeed to have it ratified, the Chamber of Shipping have stated unanimously that they feel they must adhere to the principles of the Act of 1906; that is to say, that all regulations which apply to British ships shall also apply to foreign ships. If, therefore, the Government insist upon being allowed to impose regulations on British ships which will not be placed on foreign ships then, with great regret, they feel that they would rather be without the Convention and that they would have to oppose it in Parliament so far as they could. 260 That is not only the view of the ship-owners. Here is an extract from a letter written by the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation:. … the Bill has been carefully considered by the Federation and. … our Central Board, representative of the whole of the shipbuilding industry, is entirely in agreement with the ship-owners in regard to the importance of international uniformity in regard to Safety and Load Line Regulations. They are strongly of the view that the present Bill in so far as it would result in imposing greater obligations on British ships than on ships under other flags, should be amended so as to give real international uniformity on these matters.I also have a letter which was written to the Secretary of the International Shipping Conference by a body representing a foreign shipping federation. They say this:.…We quite agree with you, that it is of vital importance to adhere to the principle that an International Convention fixes the limit and that no obligations in excess of the standards laid down in the Convention should be imposed by national legislation upon the industry.Therefore, not only the shipbuilders and the ship-owners of this country, but even those of foreign countries are all agreed that whatever is laid down in the Convention should be the rule for all countries, and that we should not reserve to ourselves at any rate a Departmental power—I am going to talk about Parliamentary power later—to vary and amend the rules and regulations which appear in the Convention.
What do I propose? I propose under the Amendments to Clauses 1, 4 and 6 that the Board of Trade shall not only have power, but shall be given authority, in fact shall be required to make such regulations as appear to them to be necessary to fulfil the terms of the Convention. It will enable the Board of Trade, in addition, to retain the powers they already have to make such rules and regulations as they think are necessary for all matters which are not dealt with in the Convention. Then in my new clause I suggest to your Lordships' House that we should enact that, where a matter is dealt with in the Convention and where the Board of Trade desires and thinks it is necessary to go further, they should have to come to Parliament for an Affirmative Resolution before such rule or regulation is made. Your Lordships will realise, I think, that I am not 261 really asking a very great deal. After all, if the matter is of no importance it is unnecessary to interfere with the uniformity which I suggest is so desirable in international arrangements. Further, it would not be worth while to make rules and regulations which might make a difference between our own ships and the ships of the Dominions. We all know that we have had great difficulties in getting uniformity between British ships and those of the Dominions. Therefore I suggest that it is not wise at the present moment to add to those difficulties, by giving a Departmental power—I emphasise again—to impose restrictions on British ships which would not apply to the ships of the Dominions.
Your Lordships will realise that Parliament, of course, retains its sovereign power. I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, said in the course of the Second Reading debate:.… we must retain our power of legislation over nationals in the national interest, just as other countries claimed to retain that power. I should have thought that would not be questioned and I certainly think it ought not to be questioned.So far as I am concerned, I am not questioning that power because I propose, as I have tried to show your Lordships, that Parliament should, of course, retain the power to impose such rules and regulations as it desires, whether they are within the Conventions or without the Conventions. Obviously, if it is a power which is going to be less than the Convention the first thing we should have to do would be to abrogate the Convention. Of course, that is unlikely. I submit to your Lordships that for the purpose of giving our ships equality of opportunity with those of other countries, though, as we all know, they are first in these days, it is wise to accept this Amendment.
I do not wish to make a Party point, but I must say we are all agreed that this country at the moment is in a state of despondency and in the middle, we hope, perhaps at the end, of a slump. It is very often put down to international matters over which the Government have no control. But I think the Government will agree that if they can do anything to dissipate that feeling of pessimism and give a greater sense of security, they will be doing something to mitigate the slump and to put this country more upon 262 its feet. Is this the moment, therefore, to suggest to the shipbuilding and ship-owning industries that although they have got this International Convention, which at last gives them equality with other countries, yet the Government are going to retain in their own hands power to impose further regulations and raise once again that feeling of insecurity which, I believe, they, just as much as those on this side of the House, desire to dissipate and dissolve? I venture to think from the arguments I have put before your Lordships that I have a strong case. I hope that now that the noble and learned Lord has heard how strong that case is he will agree with me and accept my Amendments.
Page 2, leave out lines 20 to 32, and insert the said new subsection.—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am very much obliged to the noble Earl for the extremely clear statement he has made, though I do not think ho quite appreciates how nearly we are together. I do not want to go into the general question of Conventions, but what you call equality in a Convention is based on the ground that all the parties to a Convention have, as regards passenger ships in this case, to comply with certain regulations for human safely. That is the equality. So far as I know no country or Government give up their own power at all.
§ LORD PARMOOR
We agree upon that. I want to get this matter as closely as I possibly can. It is not a political matter; in fact, the whole question started with the Government of which the noble Earl was a supporter, and Sir Austen Chamberlain appointed the first of the British delegations. Without discussing for a moment matters of drafting, some of which are very difficult, I am quite willing to say that, in my own opinion and after full inquiry and having taken all the outside advice I can from legal sources, as to the noble Earl's Amendment to Clause 1, if it is read in connection with the first part of his new clause which comes after Clause 70, there is no difference between us. Under his Clause 1 without the clause he proposes after Clause 70, according to the advice I 263 can get from the Law Officers and those with whom we act in these matters, there would be an interference with the power of the Board of Trade under the principal Act to make rules and regulations. That was the opinion which was held and the advice which was given, and it was on that ground that I made the speech on the Second Reading. But if the noble Earl reads into his Amendment the wordsNothing in this Act shall be taken to prejudice the power of the Board of Trade under the principal Act to make rules or regulations in relation to the matters dealt with in either the Safety Convention or the Load Line Convention,that exactly covers the point which I made. It leaves the Board of Trade, in dealing with these matters, with the power which it now has as regards these particular questions of safety and load line.
I want the noble Earl to follow me, because I hope we shall come very near to the same conclusion. I hope he will not press his Amendment, but that is a matter we might consider afterwards, because this is a very complicated Bill in matters of drafting, as no doubt he has discovered. I have hardly ever read a Bill more difficult in that respect in many of its points, and the draftsman is very anxious to maintain his form of drafting, if we are both agreed in arriving at the same conclusion. I say quite frankly at once, after every consideration I have given to this Bill and to the noble Earl s drafting of Clause 1—and the same applies to the other clauses coupled with the first subsection of the noble Earl's Amendment after Clause 70—there is absolutely no difference between us, if you couple those two. together. I want to make that quite clear. I do not want to go into a lot of technical points, but I shall ask the noble Earl in a moment, when I finish my argument, to assent to this, that if he so far is in agreement—and I think he will be—it would be better not to press this Clause 1 Amendment at the present time, but to leave the drafting as it has been left by the draftsman on the complete understanding that between now and the Report stage any question of drafting can be discussed between the parties; and I hope we shall be entirely agreed. I think that is the right way, because we all want this Convention properly brought into force, and, 264 so far as the noble Earl is concerned, I accept what he has said on this point.
The proposal which he makes in the first subsection of the Amendment after Clause 70 would in substance be exactly the same as our Bill is at the present time—"Nothing in this Act shall be taken to prejudice the power of the Board of Trade" and so on. That is the one point I took. I said we must retain for national purposes our own powers. Other countries are in the same position. No country is prepared to give up its powers of dealing with national matters as national questions. Now comes the question between us. Let me be quite frank. The noble Earl says:Any rule or regulation made in relation to the matters dealt with in cither the Safety Convention or the Load Line Convention, other than a rule or regulation made under Sections 1, 4, 6 and 41 of this Act, shall be of no effect unless and until it has been approved by a Resolution passed by each House of Parliament.What does he ask for there? He asks, as regards matters specifically dealt with in the Convention, that if regulations are made by the Board of Trade dealing with matters of that kind, other than regulations necessary to give effect to the Convention, then the regulations should be brought before each House of Parliament. Let me answer that. I want to be as courteous and reasonable as I can. What I am told by the Board of Trade is this, that if you put the method of Parliament approving regulations in what is called the positive form there would be considerable difficulty as regards the organisation and practice of the Board of Trade, and also as regards, for instance, such a terrible accident as that in the Loire lately, and also the one we know of some years ago in the mouth of the Thames, where over 700 lives were lost. In cases of that kind you want to take immediate steps.
I want to make this suggestion to the noble Earl by way, if possible, of coming to an arrangement upon this difficult point. I think it is most important that the Government and the Board of Trade—it may be our Government or it may be another Government according to some people's hopes and expectations—but both of us would wish that the Board of Trade should exercise its powers effectively. Amongst many other disagreements, I believe there never has been a disagreement between the Board of Trade 265 and the shipbuilders or ship-owners in this country in respect of this procedure, which is very well regulated. If there is any question, it can be dealt with by a Court of Survey entirely outside the Board of Trade or the ship-owners, the Court giving independent decisions. In all these years there has only been one such appeal to the Survey Court. I want the noble Earl to consider this: supposing you put it the other way that the regulation lies upon the Table, and if it is disapproved of the regulation shall fall to the ground? I ask the noble Earl very seriously to consider this matter with the people whom he represents, and has represented so ably, because we do not want to have a dispute on a question of this sort. We want the Convention to come into operation with the good will of all parties as far as possible. That is the real way to make this work.
I make two proposals, if I may. I have stated quite clearly what our position is. We realiy are agreed that after all it is only the old question as regards whether regulations are to have a negative or positive sanction, and we have argued it on this basis, that where a regulation depends on existing legislation, as it would in this case, you do not want the positive sanction, because the legislative sanction already exists. What you want to consider is not the sanction, but the regulation itself, and therefore you put it in this way, that if the regulation is not approved then it falls to the ground. I have been very frank in what I have said. It is sometimes wise. I am told, to keep matters a little quiet when you are trying to bring about a compromise, as I am trying to do, but I do not see any reason whatever for not stating quite frankly what is in my mind. Personally I am grateful to the noble Earl for the suggestion which he has made and I am prepared to some extent to accept, but on drafting—so far as it is purely a matter of drafting and nothing else—I ask him to assent to the form of the Government draftsman. I have seen him two or three times about this matter. He assures me that if the other form was adopted instead of ours a very large number of changes would have to be made in the body of the Bill, and the drafting, in his view, would be a matter of great difficulty. But that we can talk over.
After what I have said, perhaps the noble Earl will adopt this attitude. I 266 know he wants the Convention to go forward. I think if he did not for the moment press his form of drafting but would leave the matter as it is, it would in no way prejudice his position when we come to Report stage. In the meantime, we would have further opportunities of thoroughly considering the matter. I did not see this proposal by the noble Earl in regard to what he would bring in after Clause 70 until to-day; so I think it is rather early to try to settle the whole question now. He may take it from me—I give him the most positive assurance—that if he will let this matter stand over, there will be no prejudice whatever to his position. I believe myself that we shall bring the matter to an agreement to the satisfaction of both parties.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not wish to intervene in the discussion between the noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl except to say that we also are interested in the settlement. It does not appear to be likely that there will be any substantial difference of opinion, but before we agree to the course suggested I should like to know one thing from the noble and learned Lord who has just spoken. He was clear to me upon everything he stated except in regard to the second subsection of the new clause after Clause 70. I do not know whether he was intentionally vague for the purpose of enabling it to be considered by the draftsman.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
So far as I did understand him—perhaps he will tell me if I am not right—he took objection to the form of the second subsection because it entailed a positive Resolution which he thought might be unnecessary and, at any rate, was rather cumbrous. Provided we can reach the desired goal in a less cumbrous form I should agree entirely. I think it is perhaps a little difficult to insist that there shall always be a Resolution of each House of Parliament before the regulations take effect, but there are other ways of doing it. All we want to secure—I hope I am correctly understanding what the noble Earl has in mind, and I think we are trying to arrive at the same result—is that nothing shall be introduced by way of regulations by the Board of Trade which deals with 267 matters already regulated by the Conventions until Parliament has had the opportunity of expressing itself upon it. The only question that arises then is how is the opportunity to be given to Parliament, and at this stage I certainly do not want to enter into a lengthy discussion about it, if we are agreed upon the principle, which I understand is the case.
We, like the noble Earl, are most desirous—as I think I said in the Second Reading debate—not to interfere in any way with the power of the Board of Trade to make regulations dealing with other matters so long as they do not interfere with matters dealt with in the Conventions. Regulations relating to the Conventions must be dealt with in a special way, that is in a very limited way. If my noble and learned friend would agree to put on the Paper, so that we could see them before the Report stage, the proposals which he makes with regard to this matter that, as far as I am concerned, will meet the case. If that is done I do not desire to press the matter any further.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am obliged to the noble and learned Marquess for what he has said, and I agree with him. I think it is quite right that we should put on the Paper the proposals we make for dealing with this point and if the matter is allowed to stand over now I will see that, at the same time as we communicate with the noble Earl, information of the proposals made—whether we shall come to an arrangement or not I cannot say—shall be given to the noble and learned Marquess so that he may have full information before the matter comes up on report.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I am grateful to the noble Marquess for having made so clear the position of those for whom I am working. We have come s very long way from the proposals originally contained in the Amendments—perhaps rather further than His Majesty's Government have done. But I am grateful to them for moving, at any rate somewhat, from the position they occupied before. I do not know enough about Parliamentary procedure in another place to know the exact difference between a negative and a positive Resolution, but I do know that there are disadvantages with regard to a positive Resolution because it may be blocked by somebody not really 268 interested in the subject. On the other hand, there is some fear that a negative Resolution may possibly slip through. I should like to have the right to consider the matter before the next stage of the Bill, but I have every hope that I may be able to come to an agreement with the noble and learned Lord opposite. Of course, I reserve to myself the right to move this Amendment again, or one of a similar character, if we do not come to an agreement in regard to drafting. Therefore, I will ask leave to withdraw my first Amendment at the present moment while retaining my full right to bring up the matter again.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4:
§ Rules for life saving appliances to secure compliance with Chapter III of Safety Convention.
§ 4. With a view to giving effect to the provisions of Chapter III of the Safety Convention and the Regulations referred to therein, the rules for life-saving appliances applicable to passenger steamers plying on international voyages shall (except in so far as effect is otherwise given to the said provisions by the Merchant Shipping Acts) include such requirements as will, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, secure that when those rules have been complied with in the case of any such steamer, the said provisions of the Safety Convention will also have been complied with in the case of that steamer:—
§ Provided that
§ (a) the Board may, on such conditions as they think fit, exempt any steamer constructed before the first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-one, from any such requirement, if and to the extent that they are satisfied that that requirement is neither practicable nor reasonable in the case of that steamer;
EARL STANHOPE had given Notice to move to leave out all words down to the provisos and to insert:
The Board of Trade shall make such rules as appear to them to be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Chapter III of the Safety Convention and of the regulations referred to therein except in so far as effect is otherwise given to those provisions by this Act or by the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1928.
The noble Earl said: This has the same effect as the Amendment I proposed to Clause 1, and I do not move it now.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I thought the Amendment had been withdrawn. I thought we had taken the first Amendment as a typical Amendment and that subsequent Amendments would be withdrawn. If that is so, there is nothing before the House.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
TO put the matter technically in order, would it not be right for the Lord Chairman to put the Question that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill.
§ LORD ATKIN
I do not want to say anything which would interfere with any amicable arrangement made on either side of the House, but the question seems to be a very difficult one of drafting and possibly what I say may be of some help. As I have always understood, the standard of safety in British ships has been rather in excess of what is required as a minimum from all ships. The regulations covered by the Conventions deal with a variety of matters which are already covered by regulations made by the Board of Trade. They are most important matters, but I need only refer to collision bulkheads as being dealt with among other things. If there are any regulations in existence at the present moment which are in excess of the requirements of the Conventions, is it intended—this is all I want to know—that those regulations shall stand, or is it intended that they shall be withdrawn and shall be revived again only subject to the sanction of Parliament? I raise the point because I think it is a difficult question and one that will have to be considered in dealing with these proposals. I find that Clause 70, as drawn, provides that any regulations made by the Board of Trade—it does not say "to be made"—require the sanction of Parliament. Is that to apply to existing regulations? I rather gathered from the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope's Amendments, that he means that the Board of Trade must now revise their regulations and have a new code; that the 270 new code must come up to the standard of the Conventions and go no further, and that if it does go further then it must come before Parliament.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I know the noble and learned Lord is very fond of suggesting technical difficulties but I do not think they will arise at all in this matter. The suggestion is that as regards any new regulations they will be subject to the sanction of Parliament, but the manner in which that sanction shall be expressed can be discussed when the matter is further considered.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I am speaking without authority, because these are matters which the noble and learned Lord knows a great deal more about than I do.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I have not had to deal with these cases as he has, but my impression is that any regulation which goes in excess of the Convention will have to be withdrawn, and will therefore come before Parliament if it is desired to go in excess. In regard to the load line, for instance, the line has been changed in regard to both timber ships and oil tankers. This has been possible owing to modern developments and inventions. It has been found that an oil ship is divided perpendicularly into small compartments, and therefore you can have a very much deeper load line than we used to think necessary. That has been agreed to in the Safety Convention, which brings us into line with foreign ships. As a matter of fact, we had a great deal of difficulty in getting one or two nations to agree to a load line as low as we desired to make it, and to get them up to a higher standard when we were reducing our standards, though we were not reducing our safety, because modern developments have enabled up to accept a different standard from that which prevailed in the past. It will therefore be necessary, in regard to these cases, to have amendments in the regulations, and to modify them so that they are less severe.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I quite agree, if I may say so, with the noble Earl that this has to be considered. This Convention is for a minimum standard. We have had a higher standard. The only 271 standard we are dealing with now is the minimum standard—namely, the Convention standard.
§ EARL STANHOPE moved, in proviso (a), to leave out "neither practicable nor reasonable, "and to insert "either impracticable or unreasonable." The noble Earl said: This is merely a drafting Amendment which I understand the Government are prepared to accept.
Page 6, line 4, leave out from ("is") to ("in") in line 5, and insert ("either impracticable or unreasonable").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6 [Wireless telegraphy rules to secure compliance with Chapter IV of Safety Convention]:
EARL STANHOPE had given Notice to move to leave out subsection (1), and to insert:
.—(1) The Board of Trade in consultation with the Postmaster-General shall make such rules as appear to them to be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Chapter IV of the Safety Convention, except in so far as effect is otherwise given to those provisions by this Act or by the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919.
The noble Earl said: This is the same point as on Clause 4, and I do not, therefore, propose to move.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ Clause 7 [Amendments of 9 and 10 Geo. 5 c. 38]:
§ EARL STANHOPE had given Notice to move to leave out subsection (1). The noble Earl said: This is really consequential on the Amendment to Clause 6, and therefore I do not propose to move at this stage.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ Clauses 8 to 15 agreed to.
§ Clause 16:
§ Certificates of Convention ships not registered in United Kingdom.
(3) Where a valid Safety Convention certificate is produced in respect of a Safety Convention passenger steamer, not registered
in the United Kingdom, and there is attached to the certificate a memorandum which—
(b) modifies for the purpose of any particular voyage, in view of the number of passengers actually carried on that voyage, the particulars stated in the certificate with respect to life-saving appliances;
the certificate shall have effect for the purpose of that voyage as if it were modified in accordance with the memorandum.
§ EARL STANHOPE moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (3), to leave out "passengers" and to insert "persons." The noble Earl said: The Bill, as drafted, leaves out the question of the crew, and the Convention has remembered the crew. Accordingly I propose, instead of talking about passengers, that we should talk about persons. This would cover both crew and passengers.
Page 17, line 39, leave out ("passengers") and insert ("persons").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 17 agreed to.
§ Clause 18:
§ Miscellaneous privileges of passenger steamers holding Convention certificate.
18. Where a valid Safety Convention certificate is produced in respect of a Safety Convention passenger steamer not registered in the United Kingdom—
(b) the steamer shall not be deemed to be unsafe for the purposes of Sections four hundred and fifty-nine or four hundred and sixty-two of the principal Act by reason of the defective condition of her hull, equipment or machinery, unless it appears that the steamer cannot proceed to sea without danger to the passengers or crew owing to the fact that the actual condition of the steamer does not correspond substantially with the particulars stated in the certificate.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in paragraph (b), to leave out "the passengers or crew" and to insert "human life." The noble Viscount said: Section 459 of the principal Act is referred to in this clause. In the principal Act the expression used is "human life." That expression covers both passengers and crew without any distinction between 273 them. It is shorter and neater and I see no reason for departing from it. Further, I am not quite certain whether the wireless operator or the observer will be covered by the word "crew." For those reasons I beg to move.
Page 19, line 18, leave out ("the passengers or crew") and insert ("human life")—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE)
We cannot accept the noble Viscount's Amendment. The clause is based on Article 54 of the Convention, in the First Schedule, in which you will see that the words used are "passengers and crew." If the words that the noble Viscount wants to substitute do not mean more than those which appear in the Bill, there is no object in making the change; whereas, if they do mean more, they would be contrary to the Convention. I think, therefore, we have to abide by the words of the Convention.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
Does the noble Lord say that, if the wireless operator and observer are not included, they are not to be protected? That seems to me an astounding contention.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 18 agreed to.
§ Clauses 19 to 23 agreed to.
§ Clause 24 [Report of dangers to navigation]:
EARL STANHOPE moved, after subsection (5), to insert:
(6) The transmission in pursuance of this section of messages respecting ice and derelicts shall be free of cost to the ships concerned, and any expenses of transmission of those messages which would but for this provision fall on the ship shall, so far as they are not otherwise defrayed, be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.
The noble Earl said: Under this clause there is an obligation on the master to report dangers to navigation. The report which he sends in is sent by wireless. It is obviously not to the benefit of his ship, because he has discovered the danger, but for the benefit of other people, both ashore and afloat. Therefore it does not seem fair that the vessel
which sends the report for the benefit of others, and not for itself, should have to pay. I believe that this may possibly be covered by the International Radiotelegraph Convention, but I have put the Amendment down to see whether the Government can give us some assurance on the matter, because obviously it is not right that the ship should be charged for messages which it sends for the benefit of other people.
Page 23, line 30, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
We can give the noble Earl that assurance. The present arrangements made by the shipping wireless telegraph companies and by the vessels and the Board of Trade are such as to prevent any charges being made in respect of the wireless transmission in question, either between one ship and another or between ships and the coastal stations, and it would be contrary to the Radiotelegraph Convention and the Safety Convention for any company which is a party to either of those Conventions to impose charges on British ships in respect to the messages in question. I think that covers the noble Earl's point.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, and I should like to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 24 agreed to.
§ Clauses 25 to 28 agreed to.
§ Clause 29:
§ Method of giving helm orders.
§ 29.—(1) No person on any British ship registered in the United Kingdom shall give a helm order containing the word "starboard" or "right" or any equivalent of "starboard" or "right", unless he intends that the head of the ship shall move to the right, or give a helm order containing the word "port', or "left" or any equivalent of "port" or "left", unless he intends that the head of the ship shall move to the left.
§ (2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of this section shall for each offence be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
§ THE EARL OF INCHCAPE moved to leave out Clause 29. The noble Earl said: I understood the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House to say on the Second Reading of the Bill that, if the Convention as a whole were not 275 agreed to, it would be killed altogether. I venture to submit that this means that, despite the Convention having to be ratified by the Governments of fifteen nations, those Governments are debarred from suggesting any alteration in the terms of the Convention. So far as I know, the Convention has been ratified by only two of the fifteen Governments concerned—namely, Denmark and the Netherlands, which possess between them something like four million tons of shipping, as against twenty-three million tons owned by this country and its Dominions and a total of sixty-nine million tons held by the whole world.
§ The order "Starboard" means that the danger is on the starboard side, and the wheel is turned to port so as to bring the rudder over to port, and the ship's head goes to port to avoid the danger. In the same way if the order is given to "Port" it means that the danger is on the port side, and the wheel is turned to starboard so as to bring the rudder over to starboard, and the vessel's head is turned to starboard. The rudder goes over in whichever way the wheel is turned. This has been the rule for very many years, and all our captains, officers, and seamen, numbering as they do many thousands, have been brought up with it. If the rule is reversed, as proposed, accidents will almost certainly happen. Officers who join hereafter will know one rule and the men at present at sea will have to forget what they have learned. As I have said, we are told that the whole Convention will go by the board if all the articles are not adopted, but I understand that France is suggesting alterations, and America, too. Surely it would not be unreasonable to ask that so far as our own ships are concerned, the old order of things with regard to helm orders may be permitted to stand. Petitions have been signed by 8,590 captains, officers and pilots, all in commission at the present time, against the proposed reversal in helm orders. These numbers would have been greatly exceeded but for the fact that three or four thousand are abroad or at sea, and have not had an opportunity of signing the petition. Surely, it is not a very outrageous thing to ask that before the British Government gives its adherence to this Convention, Clause 29 should be struck out.276
§ I implore your Lordships not to alter the helm orders which all our captains, pilots, officers and quarter-masters understand, and to which they have been accustomed all their seafaring lives, and which all on board non-British ships equally understand. I hope that your Lordships will not sanction a change which is deprecated practically by all our men afloat, and which may lead to many accidents. In the course of my business, I constantly come in touch with my captains and officers, and I have not heard one of them express himself as in favour of this change in the helm orders. There has been no real call for the change except from one or two small foreign shipping companies, which advocated the substitution of the words "Left" and "Right" for the time-honoured words "Port" and "Star-hoard." I can safely say that if that Friend of British seamen, clear old Thomas Gray, had been alive to-day he would have been opposed to this change in the helm orders. I may say that I took no part in the preparation of this petition, but I am entirely in agreement with the views which it expresses, and I beg to move that Clause 29 be omitted.
Leave out Clause 29.—(The Earl of Inchcape.)
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
This Amendment raises the one remaining point of importance which remains to be discussed in this Bill. It is one of very great importance, and I am sure your Lordships have been impressed with the eloquent appeal of the noble Earl, who has just moved that this clause be omitted, as we were impressed by his argument on the Second Reading. May I venture first of all to put to your Lordships an over-riding consideration, apart from the particular merits of the case? It is this, that the passage of this Amendment, or rather the omission of this clause, really frustrates the efforts of a great many years, and brings the Convention down. We cannot afford, I am sure the majority of your Lordships will agree, to allow this Convention to be broken at the last moment. A reservation on our part would mean, of course, that we should have to try to re-open the Conference, and try to get the consent of other nations to it, which we should assuredly fail to do. Furthermore, we should have to allow other 277 nations to have their reservations, and the result would be chaos, and no Convention whatever would be concluded. All the efforts of these years would be wasted.
It hardly seems necessary to argue the point further. The omission of this clause, the refusal of this country to alter her present helm orders, would be an announcement to the world that Great Britain was not ready to come into an International Convention for the safety of life at sea. I think that would be a very grave charge to have made against us. We prick ourselves upon being the pioneers, and even in a case like this, where it requires certain sacrifice on our part to depart from the old habit and custom which was so admirably described by the noble Earl, we are prepared to make that sacrifice in order that the shipping of all nations may be placed on a safer basis.
Perhaps, as the noble Earl has made this appeal, and has brought forward certain arguments which may have impressed not only your Lordships but the public outside, he will allow me anyhow to make one or two corrections. During the Second Reading debate on the Merchant Shipping (Safety and Load Line Conventions) Bill, Lord Inchcape made the following statement:The proposal has created grave and widespread concern amongst those responsible for the safe navigation of our merchant marine, whilst a similar feeling exists amongst British pilots. As to the latter, the United Kingdom Pilots' Association voted against the change at the conference at Trinity House, and I understand that other representative bodies of pilots, that is, the London Trinity House River Pilots and the London Trinity House Channel Pilots have petitioned Parliament not to agree to the change.The statement regarding the United Kingdom Pilots' Association is inaccurate. At the Trinity House meeting on February 14, 1929, the representatives of the association made it clear that so far as they had been able to ascertain the pilots disliked the change, but when statements were subsequently made in the Press that the association had voted at the meeting against any change in the present system of giving helm orders, the following letter was sent to The Times by the secretary of the association.
278 This is an important association and I think in justice to them their letter should be quoted in this House. It was as follows:
Sir,May I be allowed to correct a statement in a letter from Captain Selwyn Day which appeared in The Times of the 14th instant? It is not true that the United Kingdom Pilots' Association has voted, even by a majority, against any change in the present system of giving helm orders.The pilots of the United Kingdom share with other seafarers a natural unwillingness to abandon the long established use with their present meaning of the words 'Port' and 'Starboard' in giving helm orders. But if, as they believe, other considerations of vital importance to British shipping are wrapped up with this question, they do not intend to let mere prejudice influence them against a change, so as to imperil the Convention, which must surely be ratified as a whole, if at all.That states the whole case in a nutshell, besides showing that the attitude adopted by this association is not that which the noble Earl described in his speech on the Second Reading.
I do not know that I need quote from other associations which have voted in favour and have not obstructed this change. I would also say that I have sufficient confidence in the skill and adaptability of British seamen to believe that a change such as this will be made by them with the greatest ease and alacrity. In fact, I have come across the fact that in ships carrying Malay crews the orders are given in Malay words signifying "right" and "left," and in the direct sense. Therefore, British officers are able to master not only the new things but the new method with the greatest ease. Of course, our seamen are famous for their handiness and adaptability, and I do not think we need look forward to any difficulty in that respect.
One other point, I think, I ought also to correct in the noble Earl's speech on he Second Reading, when he referred to the fact that America was still using the indirect system of helm orders. When the question was discussed in 1929 the United States delegation stated that the United States Navy had changed from the indirect to the direct system of helm orders about fifteen years ago, and no difficulty whatever had been experienced, either at that time or since; and they added that the advantage derived from the direct system had been shown to be 279 such that it was now proposed to use the direct system on United States merchant ships also. These are minor considerations that I have alluded to in the latter part of my remarks, as compared with the overriding consideration which I brought to your Lordships' notice first, and that is that the passage of the noble Earl's Amendment not only destroys the Bill, but, much more important, destroys the Convention.
§ LORD ATKIN
I have very little to add to what I said on Second Reading, but it is perfectly obvious that the Government, with great respect to them, have not appreciated the case that was then made. The case that was made is this. It is said that it is an overriding consideration that you may lose this Convention. The answer is that it is a still more overriding consideration that you should not imperil the lives of the officers and men and the passengers who go on board British ships. There is a feeling of the very strongest kind among those who go on the ships that their lives will be imperilled. It is very interesting to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, that he thinks that it is all very nice and safe, but he is not going to spend his life on board ships during this transitional period; and if, indeed, this is carried, all one can do is to recommend your Lordships not to go on a ship at all during that transitional period.
But the answer is this. Of the officers who go on board who have navigating functions—I suppose there may be 13,000 or 14,000 in existence in British ships at the present moment—8,500 of them have signed a petition against this, stating that their lives will be imperilled, and that is a matter which cannot be ignored. It is no use talking about overriding considerations. The question is, is that or is that not a reasonable anticipation? It is made, not bygentlemen of EnglandThat live at home at ease,but it is made by the people who actually have to navigate the ship and know the conditions, and it is made by people who are not only very able but very courageous. They proved that very satisfactorily during the War. They have got no interest in this matter at all. Their interest, if anything, is to try to support the Convention, because it is sup- 280 ported by the majority of their owners. And they have signed this petition, alleging and feeling that, in fact, their lives and the lives of the crew and passengers entrusted to them will be endangered. That has got to be met, and it is not met by a landsman standing up and saying, "I do not think there is that danger."
Who is the best judge? Who are the only judges? The men who are going to navigate the ships; and they say the danger is not merely the danger of themselves in an emergency resorting to the ingrained habit of giving a helm order in a particular direction, but it also is the danger in respect of seamen, and foreign seamen in particular, who have only learnt the particular mode of steering which is now to be changed. That has got to be met by the Government, and it can only be met by satisfying the conscience of the Legislature that in fact there will be no danger. The burden of proof seems to me to be completely satisfied by the fact that all these officers say, in fact, that there will be danger; and though I have no doubt that a few persons could be found who are confident enough that they could deal with the difficulty, two-thirds of the officers serving at, the present moment are all satisfied that there is going to be a danger. Nobody has suggested that the present system endangers life at sea, and changes are generally made for the purpose of improving the chances of life at sea. Nobody can suggest that life is endangered by the present orders and this change undoubtedly will endanger life, in my humble submission, based upon the evidence of the people who will have to give the orders. Two other considerations. It is said it is going to destroy the Convention.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
Before the noble and learned Lord passes to the second consideration, would he explain to whom he is referring when he says "all these officers"?
§ LORD ATKIN
I am referring to the figures of a petition which the noble Lord will probably have an opportunity of perusing in a short time, which will be signed and presented by 8,500 navigating officers, and it is a matter of the very greatest weight and moment.
281 The second point is this. I was a little surprised to hear from Lord Ponsonby that if this Convention were ratified with a reservation the Conference would have to be re-summoned. A ratification with reservation has not been uncommon. Some of the Geneva Conventions were ratified with reservations but they were not sent back again to the Conferences which drew them up. It is a question whether or not the Government will then ratify a Convention which I agree has been ratified by only one of the other parties with a reservation. But it is unnecessary, I venture to think—I speak without very much learning in the matter of the practice as to Conventions—that the Conference should meet over again. I could provide a list of several Conventions that have been ratified by this country with reservations in the past although they have been in fact accepted by the other bodies.
Will the other bodies refuse to ratify if we make this reservation? I have already said that this particular point has nothing to do with saving life at sea. The alteration will not save the life of a single German or Frenchman or any other foreign subject. Inasmuch as other countries have agreed to other provisions which undoubtedly do affect life at sea, it is very astonishing to me, though it may be true, to say that the Government and Legislatures of all those other countries will sacrifice valuable provisions for saving the lives of their own citizens at sea because Britain is unable to accept a provision which, so far from saving life at sea, will endanger the lives of its own subjects. Therefore I am bound to say that I am very sceptical on that matter. If it were so, I would run the risk which, apparently, the ship owners of this country are prepared to run if they cannot get the provisions for safety of life at sea made uniform, of having to make their ships safer than foreign ships. To my mind this is a much more grievous matter. This is a case where the lives of British officers and men will be imperilled by this change, and I venture to suggest to your Lordships' House that if the Convention can only be won by bartering their safety it is better that the Convention should go.
§ EARL JELLICOE
It is with diffidence that I rise in opposition to the noble Earl who has moved the rejection of this 282 Clause—a man of great experience, the head of a big shipping line and, of course, one who for that reason must be conversant with the opinions expressed by his officers. But in view of the fact that the rejection of this clause is likely to lead to the rejection of the whole Convention, I feel it, is of great importance to examine most carefully the objections raised by the noble Earl and from this side of the House before your Lordships come to the conclusion to reject the clause.
The argument used against the change in the helm orders is that it is likely to cause accidents. I realise that those who have spent their lives at sea under the old system have very strong objections to a change in the wording of the helm orders. Nevertheless, in view of the importance of the question, I think it is very necessary that we should really consider whether it is going to lead to the dangers which have been mentioned. I personally have seen the helm put the wrong way on more than one occasion under the present system, and I feel convinced of one thing, that when the new system has been in use for a short period we shall be asking why on earth we did not adopt the new system years ago. It is a far simpler system. The other is a survival of sailing ship days when the helm was put up or down. Now you move the wheel to starboard to put the helm to port. It is obviously quite a wrong method of giving orders. Nevertheless, it has been in use for so long that, as I have said, it is easy to see why objections are raised to the change.
As I have said, I have seen the helm put the wrong way on more than one occasion when I was in command of a ship. It so impressed me with the danger under the present system of the helm being put the wrong way that when in the Navy we took to conning our ships from the top of what is called the standard compass platform which is out of sight of the wheel, I insisted on having a hole cut in the standard compass platform so that the officer giving orders to the helmsman could see that he was putting the helm the way he wanted him to put it. In every ship I commanded I had that hole cut. When I was assistant to the Controller of the Navy and was responsible for the fitting-out of ships under contract I insisted upon that hole 283 being cut in order that the officer could see that his order was correctly carried out. It is only necessary in the future when the change is made for a similar precaution to be taken so that the officer can see that the helm is put the way he means it to be put, to make certain that no accident will occur. From the officer's point of view all that is required is that when he wants a ship's head to go to the right he has to say "right" or "starboard."
I have no doubt that when ships first go to sea under the new system the officers will feel that they have a responsibility. All they have to say to themselves, as they walk up and down the bridge, is "When I want the ship's head to go to starboard I have to say 'right' or 'starboard,' and not to say what I used to say." If they do not get into that system in a week I shall be very much surprised. The officers of the mercantile navy are second to none in the world, and if other nations can adopt this change without danger I say most certainly that our officers can do the same. Anybody who has experience of what our officers did in the late War in taking up convoy and keeping close station at night without lights would regard it as absurd, I think, to imagine that they cannot adopt a change like this without danger to life and limb. I therefore strongly urge your Lordships to pass this clause.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I would only make a very few observations especially after the weighty words that have fallen from the noble Earl who has just spoken. I am sure we are very much indebted to him. He speaks with a practical experience of a good many years, not as an owner, but as one who has commanded and sailed ships and who has had plenty of practice. He has put into much more forcible language, based upon his great experience in the very distinguished position he held, what I had hoped to put before your Lordships, and I shall be very brief in view of what he has said.
Nobody, of course, can fail to be impressed by such a petition as that mentioned by my noble friend Lord Inchcape and my noble and learned friend Lord Atkin. But it is not the whole case. That petition is presented by men who, no doubt, at first sight when asked about the change in the helm orders and without any idea of what was meant and 284 what the consequences might be, have given an answer. I do not believe for one moment, with all respect, that if those men had been here to-day, had heard the arguments and what was said by the noble Earl who has just spoken, knew the purpose of it and how it was to be carried out, there would have been many signatures to the petition. May it also be added that on the last occasion my noble and learned friend who leads the House quoted a number of other societies who were not opposed. I have received a long statement from the Officers (Merchant Navy) Federation which claims to be as big a society as exists. It deals with this very question at considerable length, and takes quite a different view. I am not proposing to read it, or to press your Lordships with it, because after all I think we might quite fairly state the position thus.
Those who sit upon these Benches are very anxious to give every consideration to what may be said by the sailors who go to sea, and are by no means callous about loss of life, but we must really consider the whole question for ourselves. Our great desire has been for many years to get uniformity. At last we get it by this Convention. It is something which is in the course of achievement, and, as I understand, it is largely due to the pressure that was put by foreign nations for this change in the helm order that it was made. The one thing which helped us to get a great deal of what is in the Convention was our agreement to the helm order. May I also remind your Lordships, when we are considering this not unimportant thing, that the Conference was presided over by a distinguished Admiral, Sir Herbert Richmond, who was elected as President by the delegates present there, and was not nominated by us in any way. He and the other British seamen who were there all agreed with this Convention, and have put it forward.
After all, it is often said that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of argument. May I briefly draw attention to what was said during the course of debate, I think by my noble friend Lord Ponsonby? It is very significant. He told us that the United States Navy had made this change fifteen years ago. So when we were told on the last occasion that the United 285 States had refused to make a change, that was not the case. They have it today, and so far as we know not only are they not dissatisfied but they hold to it. May I remind your Lordships of one further fact? On the last occasion the noble and learned Lord who leads the House told us that the Admiralty approved. Surely that is a factor which we in this House must take into account. The Admiralty have the opportunity of giving far better consideration to the matter than those captains, officers and seamen who were asked to sign the petition. They have given their careful consideration to it, and have come to the conclusion that it is good.
Are we to think that an order which is in fact the immediate consequence of the reflection in the mind is wrong? You are in command of a ship, you see something on the port side, you want to get away from it. What is the first thing you think of quickly, like a flash—" Turn the helm to starboard." And the first thing you would say, I should think, would be "starboard"; instead of which, according to our present practice, the first thing you must say to yourself is: "Starboard? I must not forget I have to give an indirect order, so 'port.'" That is the present position, and all that is being asked now is that we may adopt the practice all others have adopted; that in future what is in the man's mind should be given as the order—turn the ship's head to port or starboard as the case may be—a direct order with the immediate consequence that the ship does what it is intended it should do.
We must consider the fact that it is important that this Convention should be accepted. Whether it is right or wrong to say that the whole thing will fall to the ground if we do not accept it, I do not know. We are told so by the Government, and we must accept that as a very important and serious thing. I would press upon your Lordships that you should give effect to this uniformity, which is so important to us because our ships at last will not be at a disadvantage with other ships. We shall be in exactly the same position as they are and shall have to conform to the same regulations. If they want the benefit of the Convention certificate, they must obey all those regulations which are essential and so bring about uniformity.
THE EARL OF INCHCAPE
In regard to pilots may I venture to ask your Lordships to permit me to read what I said on the Second Reading. I stated:The proposal has created grave and widespread concern amongst those responsible for the safe navigation of our merchant marine, whilst a similar feeling exists amongst British pilots. As to the latter, the United Kingdom Pilots' Association voted against the change at the conference at Trinity House, and I understand that other representative bodies of pilots, that is, the London Trinity House River Pilots and the London Trinity House Channel Pilots have petitioned Parliament not to agree to the change.When I said that, I was speaking from information put before me and I have every reason to believe that it was correct. I do not know whether the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, means that the whole of American shipping have accepted this helm order.
THE EARL OF INCHCAPE
I did not say the Navy had not accepted it. I only said the merchant service had not accepted it.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 29 agreed to.
§ Clauses 30 to 37 agreed to.
§ Clause 38:
§ Commencement of Part I and repeal.
§ 38.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this subsection, this Part of this Act shall come into operation on the first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-one:
§ Provided that His Majesty may from time to time by Order in Council postpone the coming into operation of this Part of this Act for such period, not exceeding on any occasion of postponement one year, as may be specified in the Order.
LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE moved to leave out subsection (1) and insert:
(1) This Part of this Act shall come into operation on such date as His Majesty in Council may appoint.
The noble Lord said: It is quite obvious in the present circumstances that the Convention cannot come into operation, as was hoped, on the 1st July. Five ratifications have to be deposited before the Convention can come into force internationally. There is no possibility of that on the 1st of July, and therefore in order to postpone the date I beg to move these words.
Page 30, line 43, leave out subsection (1) and insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 39 [Ships exempt from Part II]:
EARL STANHOPE moved in subsection (2) after paragraph (a) to insert:
(b) any ship plying on any other voyage between near neighbouring ports if the Board of Trade are satisfied as aforesaid.
The noble Earl said: I beg to move.
Page 31, line 31, at end insert the said words.—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 39, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 40 to 43 agreed to.
§ Clause 44 [Miscellaneous offences in relation to marks]:
VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, after paragraph (b), to insert:
(c) (i) places or suffers any person under his control to place on a ship a mark prescribed under this Act except with the authority of a person entitled under the load line rules to authorise the placing of such mark, or (ii) places or suffers any person under his control to place on a ship a mark so closely resembling a mark prescribed under this Act as to be calculated to deceive;
The noble Viscount said: This clause deals with concealing, removing, altering, defacing and obliterating a prescribed mark, but it does not seem to deal with the wrongful placing of such a mark. In the Improvement of Livestock (Licensing of Bulls) Bill there was a clear distinction made between placing and altering or defacing. There is also
a provision made in that Bill in Clause 8 for a penalty in a case where a mark so closely resembles a prescribed mark as to be calculated to deceive. I hope for the reasons I have stated the noble Lord will accept the Amendment. I beg to move.
Page 35, line 4, at end insert the said words.—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I quite recognise that the noble Viscount is interested always to see that the various Bills that come before your Lordships' House are uniformly regular in their clauses, but I cannot see the link between the bulls and the ships unless it be that the original ships were made of extended hides. Perhaps that is what the noble Viscount was thinking of. In any case, this really is an unnecessary Amendment because it is covered either by Clause 42 or by Clause 44 as it stands. In either of the cases referred to in the proposed Amendment the ship would not be marked as required by the Act, and therefore would not be allowed to proceed to sea. The mark must also be in accordance with the load line certificate, so there is a ready means of checking whether or not the marks are correct. Any subsequent tampering with the marks would come under Clause 44. I do not think there is any need for the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
I will not press the Amendment, but if the mark so resembles the prescribed mark as to deceive I should have thought there ought to be a penalty.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 44 agreed to.
§ Clauses 45 to 51 agreed to.
§ Clause 52:
§ Inspection and control of Convention ships not registered in United Kingdom.
§ 52.—(1) A ship surveyor or engineer surveyor may go on hoard any Load Line Convention ship not registered in the United Kingdom, when within any port in the United Kingdom, for the purpose of demanding the production of any load line certificate for the time being in force in respect of the ship.
(2) If a valid Load Line Convention certificate is produced to the surveyor on any such demand, the surveyor's powers of
inspecting the ship with respect to load line shall be limited to seeing—
(a) that the ship is not loaded beyond the limits allowed by the Load Line Convention;
§ EARL STANHOPE moved, in paragraph (a) of subsection (2), to leave out "Load Line Convention" and insert "certificate." The noble Earl said: The Bill lays down that a ship shall not be loaded beyond the limits allowed by the Load Line Convention, but if your Lordships turn to page 146—that is to say to the Convention in question—you will see that it is there laid down that a ship shall not be loaded beyond the limit allowed by the certificate. Where a ship has a load line certificate from a foreign country, all we can do is to see that loading is in accordance with the certificate. It is not our business to say what we believe the Convention is, but solely to see that the loading is in accordance with the certificate given. I think the Bill requires amendment in that respect and I beg to move.
Page 40, line 26, leave out ("Load Line Convention") and insert ("certificate").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I will try to explain this as clearly as I can, because I quite understand the motive of the noble Earl in moving the Amendment. As he rightly says, on page 146 of the Bill—that is to say, in the Convention itself—the expression used in Article 16 is "that the ship is not loaded beyond the limits allowed by the certificate." But it the noble Earl turns to page 202, where the certificate is given, he will see that there is no limit prescribed by the certificate. The certificate only sets out the lines and how they are to be placed on the ship. It does not mention any limit. It really must have been a mistake in the Convention when this word was left in. If we had not put these words in the Bill we should have fallen into the same trap. Therefore, we put in these words because in other parts of the Convention will be found the necessary limit to which conformity should be given. I think the noble Earl will see that, although it is apparently inconsistent on our part, we are really correcting an apparent mistake in the Convention. Therefore I cannot accept his Amendment.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I am obliged to the noble Lord. I am not sure that I entirely understood his explanation, which is extremely technical, but I do not press my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 52 agreed to.
§ Clauses 53 and 54 agreed to.
§ Clause 55 [Survey, marking and conditions of assignment in case of ships not registered in United Kingdom]:
Page 42, line 31, leave out ("proviso (a) to") and insert ("paragraph (a) of").—(Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 56 to 66 agreed to.
§ Clause 67:
§ Provisions as to rules and regulations.
§ 67.—(1) Where this Act provides that rules or regulations are to be made for the purpose of giving effect to, or securing compliance with, any provision of the Safety Convention or Load Line Convention which requires a particular fitting, appliance, or apparatus, or type thereof, to be fitted or carried in a ship, or any particular provision to be made in a ship, the roles or regulations made for that purpose may require any other fitting, appliance or apparatus, or type thereof, to be fitted or carried, or any other provision to be made if the Board of Trade are satisfied that that other fitting, appliance or apparatus, or type thereof, or provision, is at least as effective as that required by the Convention.
§ EARL STANHOPE moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "Where this Act provides that rules or regulations are to be made" and to insert "Notwithstanding any rules or regulations made in pursuance of this Act." The noble Earl said: The Bill, as it stands, gives no freedom to the owner of a ship. I understand the Government are willing to accept this Amendment, so I do not wish to say more than that if these words are put in, not only will the Board of Trade have power but you will also give the owner power to use improved methods where he invents them.291
§ Amendment moved—
§ Page 49, line 41, leave out from the beginning of subsection (1) to ("for") in line 42 and insert ("Notwithstanding any rules or regulations made in pursuance of this Act").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 50, line 4, leave out from ("ship") to ("any") in line 5 and insert ("the Board of Trade may allow")
Page 50, line 7, leave out from ("if") to ("are") in line 8 and insert ("they").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 67, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ First Schedule agreed to.
§ Second Schedule [International Convention Respecting Load Lines, 1930]:
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
All the Amendments in the Second Schedule are drafting Amendments. I beg to move.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 186, line 5, leave out ("were") and insert ("where")
§ Page 191, line 16, leave out ("LFT") and insert ("LTF")
§ Page 191, line 17, leave out ("5") and insert ("4")
§ Page 204, line 10, leave out ("trazato") and insert ("trazado")
§ Page 204, line 11, leave out ("merantes") and insert ("mercantes.")
§ Page 204, leave out ("1892") and insert ("1896")
§ Page 205, line 19, leave out ("marchantes") and insert ("mercantes")
§ Page 217, line 37, leave out ("recommendation") and insert ("recommendations").—(Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining Schedules agreed to.