HL Deb 23 June 1942 vol 123 cc472-505

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Clifden.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The LORD STANMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Additional injuries and damage in respect of which compensation may be paid.

(2) The injuries falling within this section are physical injuries sustained on or after the third day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, at sea or in any other tidal water or in the waters of any harbour, and attributable to—

  1. (a) the taking of measures with a view to avoiding, preventing or hindering enemy action against ships, or as a precaution in anticipation of enemy action against ships, or for rescue or salvage purposes in consequence of enemy action against ships; or
  2. (b) the absence, by reason of circumstances connected with any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, of any aid to navigation for ships, or of any warning of danger to ships, being an aid or warning which would be normal in time of peace; or
  3. (c) the carriage, by reason of circumstances connected with any such war as aforesaid, of any cargo in a manner which would be abnormal in time of peace and involves danger to the ship in which the cargo is carried or to her crew,
and the loss and damage falling within this section is loss and damage sustained and attributable as aforesaid:

Provided that in relation to injuries, loss or damage sustained in the waters of a harbour the measures specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection do not include the prohibition or restriction of lights other than navigational lights.


There are two Amendments on the Paper to Clause 1. The first Amendment is a matter of printing, and the words would be inserted automatically if the second Amendment ware passed. I think, therefore, it would be for the convenience of your Lordships if we were to disregard that Amendment now and go on with the second Amendment on page 2, line 13.

THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY had given Notice of an Amendment in subsection (2), after "The inquiries falling within this section are," to insert "(i)," in order to insert after paragraph (c), "(ii) tuberculosis due to war conditions." The noble Earl said: Your Lordships may remember that on the Second Reading of this Bill, last Tuesday, I urged that merchant seamen suffering from tuberculosis as a result of war measures should come within the provisions of the Bill. The Amendments standing in my name are designed to ensure this being done, provided, of course, that it may be proved that the illness is the result of war conditions. In the remarks I am about to make I shall have to repeat myself a good deal, but I hope the Committee will bear with me, because the remarks will be, I think, all germane to my subject. This very welcome Bill, we were told only a week ago to-day on the occasion of the Second Reading, aims at extending the benefits of the principal Act to cases of injury where a mariner is injured through the normal risk of seafaring life being substantially increased by war measures. We are told that the provisions of this Bill are welcomed by all the interested parties, officers, seamen and owners. Of course they are, because they are excellent provisions, and the people affected can look ahead with renewed confidence to the future, but, when looking ahead to the future, those who have already fallen out and dropped astern are rather inclined to be forgotten, and it is for a section of these unfortunates that I do beg the support of your Lordships.

Before I go any further I wish to make it quite clear that I am not alluding to any abnormal circumstances, such as being adrift in a boat or cast away on a raft or anything of that sort. That kind of episode is, I understand, covered by the Bill, and we have the assurance of the Minister of Pensions in another place that that is the case. My remarks will be concerned with the difference between ordinary life at sea under peace conditions and the conditions which have to be followed under war measures. At all times at sea, under modern conditions, seamen are predisposed to tuberculosis. This is agreed upon by all medical men who are interested in seamen and who work among them. It is true of the Royal Navy, where strict and periodical medical examinations take place, where the greatest trouble is taken about the ventilation of the ship, where everything is done to try and eliminate this foul disease, and where the health of all is looked after by the devoted care of medical officers. If that is true of the Royal Navy in regard to tuberculosis, how much more likely is it to be true of the Mercantile Marine, where no medical examination is enacted by law, although certain medical examinations do take place owing to the companies wishing to cover themselves in various ways by insurance. One shilling a head is paid as a fee for these examinations, and I submit that it might be rather perfunctory at that price. In any case, in a great number of instances, no examination takes place at all.

In volume 2 of the Report of the National Labour Office regarding insurance and health published in 1934, many reasons are given to account for this predisposition of seamen to tuberculosis, both in their living and working conditions. Special stress is laid upon the fumes and gases given off by different sorts of cargoes, upon, the noxious dust that is generated, and upon other causes of this kind which have to be encountered in small and ill-ventilated compartments. A well-known Harley Street surgeon, Mr. Ernest Griffiths, who as a young man went to sea to study these conditions and now works amongst sailors and is on the staff of the Seamen's Hospital Society, sent me a memorandum that he had written for another purpose upon this very subject. He gives as reasons the gross overcrowding of seamen in their ships according to all shore standards, and the fact that conditions of weather at sea very often prevent any ventilation of the living space for days together. He also points out that during a voyage a seaman is subjected to periods of strain and fatigue which are quite different from those experienced by workmen ashore. The seaman cannot get a day a week off, and although nominally he may have to work only a specific number of hours in the twenty-four, in the case of bad weather or in an emergency he may have to work long hours together under considerable physical strain. Moreover, these men have not the opportunity of recuperating during the usual hours of sleep.

These conditions, lack of sleep, extreme fatigue and exposure to noxious dust and vapours, render them liable to infection, and render them particularly liable to become victims of tuberculosis. He goes on to add to this the fact that some 25 per cent. of seamen serving in British ships are Lascars, who are peculiarly prone to this particular disease. It will be seen, therefore, that there is no lack of tuberculosis carriers at sea. Seamen living and working on shore do so under far healthier conditions than those they can ever hope to experience between decks at sea. British seamen who become infected are very loath to report themselves sick, either because they do not perhaps realize they have the disease or because they fear loss of occupation and all that that entails. That this "hanging back" does exist is proved by the fact that out of 300 cases admitted into St. George's Sanatorium for Sailors 268, that is 89 per cent., were in the advanced stages of the disease, and of these men 51 died in the sanatorium. But of course in peace-time there are many ameliorations of the life of a sailor. Your Lordships have experienced those delights of days at sea with bright sunshine and just enough wind to put white horses on the tops of the waves, and delightful nights when the ship is lighted up with hatches open to draw in the salt air, nights when to be on deck are far more attractive than to be in one's bunk. The memory of such days and nights makes people long to go back to sea.

Every profession has risks which those who join it must be prepared to face. It is only when one particular risk becomes unduly great that workmen's compensation comes in order to ensure that those who suffer are adequately compensated. Tuberculosis is not in a schedule under the Act for seamen and they cannot be benefited by that Act if they suffer from that illness. Directly we come to war conditions everything at sea is altered, and it seems hardly necessary to explain at any length why conditions at sea which expose men to tuberculosis are greatly magnified as a consequence of war measures. At the same time when you have those measures all these ameliorations to which I have referred are wiped out altogether. Voyages are far longer, a fact which increases the periods of risk of infection, should there be one carrier among a ship's company. Devious routes are adopted, and ships penetrate into latitudes which they were never intended to navigate and for which they are neither adapted nor fitted. Moreover, they go there at unusual seasons of the year. The heavier the load the wetter the ship is and the less space there is on the ship's deck for recreation. Ship-loading marks are in abeyance during war-time and turns of duty are far more exacting; the watertight doors and hatches have to be kept closed in order to keep the ship watertight, and therefore the ship is not ventilated. Over and above everything else there is the ever-present risk of surprise attack by an unseen enemy. The cumulative effect of all this is still further to reduce the seamen's power of resistance to infection.

The Bill now before your Lordships' House— make no apology for quoting the words used by the noble Viscount, Lord Clifden, in moving the Second Reading—is to provide for the case "where a mariner is injured through a normal risk of seafaring life being substantially increased by war measures." I suggest that in war-time there should be no doubt among seamen that they will benefit from the provisions of the Bill should they be so unfortunate as to fall victims to this terrible disease. That is in grave doubt at present. On the previous occasion when I addressed your Lordships on this matter I read an answer from the Ministry of Pensions to an applicant who based his appeal for a pension upon the ground that his disease had been brought about by war conditions. That answer, which refused the pension, stated that the claim could not be considered as the disability had not been brought about by enemy action, but by war conditions only. That answer was dated June 3.

I now beg your Lordships' permission to quote some further correspondence on the subject, the applicant also being a patient at the King George's Sanatorium for Sailors. He was until recently a quartermaster in a well-known liner the owners of which have an excellent name for the treatment of their sailors. He stated that he had been at sea for nineteen years, during which he had had no illness until he was found to have tuberculosis when he had served twenty months under war conditions. He gave as his reasons for applying that he had been one of six quartermasters living, eating and sleeping in one cabin situated close to a galley or kitchen. In that cabin there were no fans for hot weather nor any provision for heating in cold weather. In consequence, in the tropics the temperature rose to 120 degrees, and in cold weather the condensation moisture formed into icicles. When the men complained of these conditions they were allowed to move into the troop quarters, but when the troops were re-embarked they were sent back to the original cabin. Finally, the captain decided that the cabin was unfit for sleeping in and it was then used for messing only.

This man went on to state that he had been in another ship of the same line during December, 1939, and January, 1940, during which time he had been with five others in a cabin. One of those men, who had a very bad cough, suddenly went sick and died of pulmonary tuberculosis shortly afterwards. These statements can of course be easily verified. To that appeal the writer received the answer: As your injury was not in any way due to enemy action it is regretted that you are ineligible for a grant of compensation. Reading in the Press a summary of the Bill now before your Lordships he applied again and he got a better answer this time. He was told: The Bill to which you refer is under consideration in Parliament and should it come into force it will be open to you to make application for a review of your case. That answer was dated April 27 and presumably at that time the Ministry intended that such cases should come within its provisions, for nobody would willingly raise ill-founded hopes in such cases. But what spark of hope there may have been seems to have been entirely extinguished, for three replies to three different claimants, dated May 30, June 3 and June 5, all explain that as the disability was not due to a "war injury," which means a "physical injury caused by the enemy or in repelling imagined attack by the enemy," the claimants were not eligible.

This Bill was read the third time in another place on June 2, so surely you may take it that the answers to which I have alluded would never have been sent if it was intended that such sufferers as the petitioners should benefit by its provisions. I know some of the official reasons that are going to be urged against this Amendment. I have already been told that to insert it would open the door to other claims by those who considered their health might be adversely affected by war conditions. I was told that it was a question of principle and that if you accepted the principle you could not go into questions of degree. That of course is a fallacy, for it is done under the Workmen's Compensation Act. If any other body can show equally powerful claim as those of the seamen they would in my view deserve every consideration, but I am asking only for compensation for seamen who have been allowed to fall between two stools. This fact is proved by these figures. There are at present in the King George's Sanatorium 36 Royal Naval patients and 31 are drawing pensions, not for war injuries but for tuberculosis. There are fourteen merchant seamen patients and none has a pension. There have been only three refusals to naval men but ten to merchant seamen.

These men should either be covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act or by this Bill, and I suggest that this Bill is the appropriate measure. The Workmen's Compensation Act and the Employers Liability Act are part of our permanent legislation, whereas this Bill is war legislation designed to meet the case of seamen in circumstances "where the normal risk of seafaring life is substantially increased by war measures." Permanent legislation should aim at stopping the incidence of tuberculosis among merchant seamen. Safeguards of course would have to be provided against exploitation of the measure, but they have been devised under the Workmen's Compensation Act and they could certainly be framed under this Bill. These men are, in fact if not in theory, servants of the State. It is the State that controls the shipping industry, that orders when, how and where ships are to proceed, and the State cannot get out of its responsibilities to the men who man these ships by trying to shoulder them on to employers or anybody else.

I suggest to your Lordships, with all deference, that this is essentially a cause that should appeal to your Lordships. It is that of a neglected minority who have no influence, no means of bringing their case forward, as many organizations have. It is not championed by powerful organizations and the men are not in a position to do anything for themselves. Not can they get their case taken up and eloquently put forward in the Press and on the public platform. It is the case of a few unhappy seamen, shipmates of the men to whom we owe so much. Think, my Lords, of these men, the wrecks of strong sailors, lying on their beds from which many of them will not rise again and occupying their time with little bits of work in wool and that sort of thing. What must their thoughts be as they hear refusals to petitions come in one after another. I am not asking for charity, pity or favours. I am asking for an act of justice to these unfortunate men who have most truly fallen in the national cause. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 13, at end insert ("(ii) tuberculosis due to war conditions,").—(The Earl of Cork and Orrery.)


Would the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack allow me to put forward a certain matter before he makes his statement? I can assure him that I shall do so in a very few words.




Since the debate last week I have, with certain of my noble friends, been in touch with the National Union of Seamen on this question. As my noble friend the Minister of War Transport, Lord Leathers, knows, they were called in, and quite rightly called in, as one of the parties on the Joint Maritime Board when the Bill was in preparation. But this question was not then raised. In view of the arguments which have been put forward the National Union of Seamen, speaking for 42,000 seamen, has asked me and such of my noble friends as have interested themselves in this matter, to suggest to your Lordships and to any other noble Lords whom we can influence, that the noble and gallant Earl's proposal should be supported. The Amendment as now drawn has the full support of the National Union.


I do not know quite what is the right order in which it is wished that we should address the Committee. The noble and learned Lord Chancellor has been good enough to tell me that he takes a particular view on the construction of this Bill.


I am going to explain it when I have the opportunity.


Then I will not hold up the noble and learned Viscount, but I wish him to know that this is a matter of construction on which opinions will greatly differ.


I hope that it may now be convenient if I say something. I only wish to serve the interests of your Lordships. I have no personal opinion except that, like all the rest of us, I am anxious for the right thing to be done. I feel great admiration, if I may say so with respect to him, for what the noble and gallant Earl has so eloquently stated. If indeed the results followed which he sincerely believes do follow, I should not be prepared to defend the Bill as it stands. I think, however, with great respect to him, and I must add to those who must naturally have been much moved by his speech, I must say that there is a great deal of misapprehension here. When we come to pass Acts of Parliament we must—and we will, I know—be careful to examine what in fact is proposed. We shall get our whole Statute Book into a state of confusion, if we merely give way to what are very noble and generous and reasonable appeals.

May I, with respect to the noble and gallant Earl, correct one matter at once? It struck me in the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill that it was curious that he should quote in support of his case letters which have been written in the summer from the Ministry of Pensions as though they demonstrated what the effect of this Bill was. It will be obvious I think to every member of the House, if he thinks for a moment, that if in the course of the early part of this year an appeal was made for a pension on the part of a mariner, that matter had to be decided as the law then stood and not by reference to the new Bill which we are now considering. The answer which my noble friend read the other day and other answers which he has read to us now, are obviously so to be understood. I have before me the record of the letter which he read to us on the Second Reading, and it contains this passage: From the details given in your letter it does not appear that the disability has been brought about by enemy action, but by war conditions only. The existing law, the Act we are trying to amend, made exactly that distinction, and that was why the claimant in respect of whom this letter was written, did not succeed in his application.

I have before me here the Pensions (Navy, Army, Air Force and Mercantile Marine) Act, 1939. It contains a definition of war injuries. It says—"'war injuries' means physical injuries" caused by one or other of several things which are mentioned. It is quite different from the present Bill, and the only causes which would have attracted a pension under the existing law are, as this letter stated, disabilities brought about by enemy action. If the Committee will have the patience to allow me to read the provisions, they will see it at once. As the law now stands, the injury has got to be caused by: (i) the discharge of any missile (including liquids and gas). That obviously refers to the effects of artillery or bombing or that sort of thing. (ii) the use of any weapons, explosive or other noxious thing. That is obviously in connexion with preparation for fighting or with fighting itself. (iii) the doing of any other injurious act; either by the enemy or in combating the enemy or in repelling an imagined attack by the enemy. That is something which is limited to something brought about by military action.

A further proviso is that "war injuries" means physical injuries— caused by the impact on any person or property of any enemy aircraft, or any aircraft belonging to, or held by any person on behalf of or for the benefit of, His Majesty or any Allied Power, or any part of or anything dropped from any such aircraft. The whole point is to understand that as the law stands at the present time the Statute Book as it is to-day does not contain any provision providing for disability caused by war conditions except in the case where the disability has been brought about by enemy action. And that was a very narrow thing. The result was that numbers of unfortunate people, many of them I dare say who might well be thought—and I certainly do think—are well entitled to be included in the wartime pensions scheme, did not get their pensions because they could not prove that their disabilities arose from the effect of injury brought about by enemy action. What is so strange to me, if I may say so with all respect to the noble and gallant Earl, is that he should quote letters which point to that difference as though they were some argument against the present Bill. The present Bill has the express purpose of curing this defect. That is what it is for. The object of it is to substitute for this test, that the injury has been brought about by enemy action, a much wider test, which includes, to take the examples which the noble Earl and others gave last time, the case of the man who is injured because he is, let us say, exposed in an open boat to exceptional weather, which brings on his injury, or because he has escaped from a sinking ship, and the case of a man exposed to injury because he is packed up closer than he usually is in his quarters, owing to the crew being increased by the addition of gun-crews and the like. It includes every injury of that sort, and the object of the present Bill is precisely to make that extension.

In its first clause, it provides that certain sections of the existing Act which I have just quoted, and which empower the Minister of Pensions to make schemes for awards in respect of war injuries shall, as amended by the subsequent provisions of this Act, apply in relation to injuries falling within this section which are not war injuries. That is the whole point of it.


Read on.


Of course I am going to read on.


The point is the words "as defined by Section ten."


I am quite prepared to read on, but I am pointing out, not, I think, irrelevantly, or fraudulently, or scandalously, that there is a contrast between the existing law, which limits these injuries to war injuries, and the present Bill, which says that the sections are to apply to cases "which are not war injuries as defined by Section ten of the principal Act." If I have misled anyone by not reading the words "as defined by Section ten," I apologize; but I read the words only a few minutes ago. Your Lordships will see, therefore, that the whole object of this Bill is to do the class of thing which my noble and gallant friend imagines is left undone, and, because he imagines that it is left undone, he has read these letters to us. I can assure him that, subject to one point with which I shall deal—namely, the question of whether tuberculosis should be classed as a physical injury, which is quite a serious point—everything which he imagines is not dealt with by the new Bill is, in fact, dealt with by the new Bill, because the object of the Bill is to bring these matters in.

Let me assume for the moment—and I am going, I hope, to establish it—that tuberculosis is not excluded from the Bill. What sort of cases would be covered? I will take the very ones which were mentioned last time. It was pointed out last time, and I quite accept it, that, owing to the conditions under which mariners live at sea, they run very special risks, which may bring upon them tuberculosis. I accept that entirely; I believe that to be a well-established fact, both as regards the Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine. Under war conditions you may have, as was pointed out last time, the contraction of tuberculosis due to interference with the normal circulation of air in the ship. I think that was one matter which the noble Earl was good enough to point out to us. I quite accept that: I have made inquiries, and it is certainly true. For example, the portholes may be closed and shaded to prevent any possibility of light showing out, while in the ordinary way those portholes would be left open. Fo'c'sle doors may be closed and even curtained, which in peace-time would not ordinarily be closed. Ventilator fittings provided specially in order to keep a current of air going in the ship may have to be made light-tight—I think that that is the correct expression—because many ventilators, when open, would allow light to shine through. All those things may very seriously increase the risks to which the mariner, whether in the Royal Navy or the Mercantile Marine, is subject; and the whole object of this new Bill—and this is what I want my noble friend to appreciate—is not to exclude those cases but to bring them in.


I have sat quiet for a long time, but I must interrupt the noble and learned Viscount. My cases were cited purely as examples of why sailors should be included in this Bill, which I quite understand is intended to widen the field to men who will benefit if they suffer from war conditions. My point is that the Bill does intend to widen the field, and that these men should not be left out of it.


I think that my noble friend and I agree on the substance of the matter. It has nothing to do with the question that the Minister of Pensions at an earlier date, and with reference to another Bill, wrote letters about whether a man was in or out of the benefit provisions; the object of the present Bill is to bring these men in. I am merely pointing out to my noble friend that there is not so much difference between him and the Government as he seems to think. He quite rightly presses this matter, because it is very important, but there is not a great deal of difference between us.


The last instance which I quoted was June 5.


I think that we must be allowed to go on. I will take another example which the noble Earl gave. He pointed out—and I think that he was quite right—that the accommodation may be more confined, because extra men are being carried in what are very confined quarters. I do not mean that the sailors do not get their statutory cubic content of air, but there may be more people crowded into the place where they sleep than there would be in peacetime, very often, I think, because gun-crews are added. That is a plain case for the application of this Bill, and that is the very object of the Bill. In the same way, there may be mariners who are exposed to this extra risk because they have to take to the boats and do their best to get away; and often, poor fellows, they suffer the most fearful exposure; and nothing is more likely to bring on tuberculosis in many cases than that. I would only ask my noble friend to believe me when I say that the object of this Bill is to cover those cases.

I should like to read him the relevant words, begging my noble and learned friend below the gangway (Viscount Maugham) to believe me when I say that I have no intention of omitting anything whatever. There is a provision in the Bill that the previous Act is to be extended to cover injuries which are attributable to (a) the taking of measures with a view to avoiding, preventing or hindering enemy action against ships, or as a precaution in anticipation of enemy action against ships, or for rescue or salvage purposes in consequence of enemy action against ships. That is obviously dealing with the case of sailors who, for one reason or another, are exposed to special risks and dangers because, for example, they take to the boats, or because, owing to a change of course in an effort to avoid the enemy, the ship comes to grief in another way. Then we have: (b) the absence, by reason of circumstances connected with any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, of any aid to navigation for ships, or of any warning of danger to ships, being an aid or warning which would be normal in time of peace. That refers primarily, no doubt, to sailing without lights. Then we have: (c) the carriage, by reason of circumstances connected with any such war as aforesaid, of any cargo in a manner which would be abnormal in time of peace and involves danger to the ship in which the cargo is carried or to her crew. That refers to unusual stowage, to the occupation of space which would otherwise be free air, and things of that kind. Having myself looked into this matter closely, and having had the advantage of discussions with the Ministry of Pensions and their advisers, I have come quite clearly to the view—and I hope that the Committee will be good enough to give it some attention—that the provisions in this Bill are designed to meet the very anxiety which my noble and gallant friend so naturally, so powerfully and so eloquently expressed.

There is one further point which is a point of difficulty. Certainly I am not going to deal with it as if it were not a point of difficulty. It is this: is tuberculosis a physical injury? I know there may be two views about that. In the first place, it is so regarded by the doctors of the Ministry of Pensions. I do not myself find any very great difficulty in believing that that is right, for I know that in another connexion it has been decided that various things like anthrax germs, or like some other things, are in the nature of an injury. But be that as it may, I am here to say perfectly definitely and explicitly, not on behalf of one Ministry, but as the definite, fixed public view of the Ministry of Pensions, that tuberculosis is under this Act treated as a physical injury. I do not think that the House is likely to set aside that declaration lightly. We must distinguish as to whether we are really trying to secure—as of course we are—proper protection for these poor men, or engaged in logic chopping about words. And when I say, as I do here as Lord Chancellor and as a member of the Government, that the Ministry of Pensions if this Bill is passed treat tuberculosis as included in physical injury, I apprehend that there are a good many members of your Lordships' House who will think that that is more important than logic chopping about the interpretation of a particular word.

There is this very great difference from the Workmen s Compensation Act, that under that Act not only must there be personal injury but personal injury by action. There is no such limiting condition here. It is quite enough to say that there is a physical injury.


I think that does not apply in industrial diseases.


No, that is so. I speak with very much respect for those with technical knowledge on this subject, but I do not imagine it will be regarded by the medical faculty as a very astonishing proposition, having regard to the fact that most distinguished doctors have advised me so from the Ministry of Pensions within the last twenty-four hours. But in any case the important thing is, are we going to protect these men? That is what matters to the noble and gallant Earl, and what I have said, I think, shows perfectly plainly that as far as there was any anxiety that tuberculosis would be excluded from any possible application of the Bill, that is quite unfounded. Then, it may be said—and it is very attractive to a certain sort of mind on this subject—"Well if you are so sure about that, why not put it in the Bill?"


Hear, hear.


I recognize the approval of many voices, some of whom may have heard that argument in another place. Well, I will venture humbly to suggest some rather good reasons. I do not know whether the Committee has really looked closely at this Amendment, but if the Committee decides to put it in the Bill as a separate paragraph undoubtedly you are doing this—I do not think you mean to do it—you are excluding other cases which may be on the border line, for the fact that the House of Lords chooses to say that tuberculosis has nothing to do with a physical injury, will certainly have that effect in the case of other complaints. I will give an example. It was given me by the doctors of the Ministry of Pensions who, believe me, are not trying to exclude these decent people from pensions at all; they are merely trying to provide a workmanlike measure. Take the case of organic heart disease, brought about by the special circumstances of war conditions. I will venture to make this prophecy. If you put tuberculosis as a separate category in this Bill, and thereby assert that for the purposes of this Bill it is not regarded as a physical injury, you are going to put into very great jeopardy the claims of some other affections which it is the intention of the Ministry of Pensions, if they are permitted to do so, to include within the Bill.

This is the second thing: it does not affect this House, but so many of us used to be members of the other, that I may refer to it in this connexion. In order that this Bill may be carried through the House of Commons there had to be a Money Resolution. When the Money Resolution was carried, it was carried on the basis as I understand from the Ministry of Pensions, that tuberculosis was not excluded in the Bill; it was included. But, of course, if the House of Lords puts this in, as I think quite unnecessarily in view of what I have said, then unquestionably it will have the result of raising the question, when the Bill returns to the other House, whether there should be a further Money Resolution—as to whether Parliament really has provided for this.

I really would ask here for a broad and sensible treatment of the matter. I do not complain of anybody who may take the view that "Well, it is rather difficult to be quite sure whether 'physical injuries' might include tuberculosis." That depends upon physiological analyses and understandings which are certainly too deep for me. But I do know this, that that is the way in which this Bill is going to be dealt with, that is the way in which the Ministry of Pensions are going to administer it, and I have taken the opportunity of fortifying myself by getting the most express authority to say so. In those circumstances, with very great respect to the noble and gallant Earl, whose efforts in this matter I most unfeignedly admire, I really think as a fair man he will agree that what I have said on behalf of the Ministry does really meet the situation. I do claim that, and I cannot understand how anybody approaching the thing afresh should not think so.

He said—it was natural he should—that he was here speaking for people who are undefended. That is not quite so. As a matter of fact, this thing has been discussed most minutely, as Lord Strabolgi said just now, with the Maritime Board and with the different parties to it. And it is not the case—I speak with great respect of my noble friend who spoke last—that the trade union is dissatisfied about it. They have not, as far as I know, ever come to the Ministry about the point specifically, and I am perfectly confident that what they want is what every reasonable man wants: they want to be perfectly sure that tuberculosis is not excluded from the operation of the Bill. I have said so, and I think that, whatever else may happen, the result which my noble friend desires is achieved.

Summing up, it stands like this. We have at present an Act of Parliament which is much too narrow in its terms. It does not give these mariners any compensation in the form of a pension unless it can be shown that the particular thing which happens to them is due to the action of the enemy. The object of this Bill is to widen that and extend it to every other sort of cause which can be said to be due to these war conditions as set out in, the Bill—and I really cannot think of any others. The result will be that these men of whom my noble friend has spoken so feelingly, if they are people who contract tuberculosis owing to those circumstances, will get their pension, and that is what is desired. I would only say in conclusion—I am speaking in the presence of at least one previous Minister of Pensions, and I know that this is a fact—the Ministry of Pensions are not niggardly and technical in dealing with these matters. In the case of a man who comes forward and says, "Here I am with tuberculosis, and I have sustained it in these circumstances, which entitle me to a pension," they do not ask for minute detailed proof. They have got their own doctors, which enables them to find out what is wanted. And if more is wanted, the medical history of nearly everybody in this country is more or less known. It is in that spirit that they determine whether or not they are reasonably satisfied that the claim is made out. I do not believe that those who know the Ministry of Pensions under my honourable friend's jurisdiction or that of his predecessors, feel that the Ministry are trying to cheat or chisel people out of their normal pension rights not at all. And if this Bill is drawn in the proper form it is a pity I that we should endeavour, under an appeal which itself is of a most moving-character, to make a change in the Bill which is manifestly not necessary.


I do not give way to anybody in this House in the respect which I feel for the Lord Chancellor, with whom I have to sit with great pleasure both in this House and in the Privy Council, and with whom I have constantly appeared at the Bar. So that I hope he will not think that anything I say is intended to detract in any way from that feeling; but I must say that I am wholly unconvinced by what the Lord Chancellor said to your Lordships. I think his construction of this Bill is wrong. I voice my opinion on that matter, and I am prepared to give my reasons. I hope in doing so it will only be another instance of this, that lawyers, like doctors, sometimes differ. It may be that the noble Viscount is right, but it may also be that I am right, and I shall tell your Lordships why at once. It is a very simple point.

The noble Viscount admits that, under the law as it now stands, tuberculosis is not a war injury. He admits that, and he says, therefore, that until this Bill is passed, the Ministry of Pensions have got no other course than to refuse somebody who is suffering from tuberculosis which is due to war conditions. Very-well. He says that the Bill is designed to put an end to that state of things and, it may be, to certain other disabilities from which members of the Mercantile Marine suffer. I am far from disputing the view that it may be designed for that purpose, but what I do assure your Lord ships is that, in my judgment—and I know in the judgment of others—it does not achieve that result. It fails to do it, and I can tell your Lordships why. The noble Viscount refers to the amendment to "war injuries" falling within Section 10 of the existing Act, and he suggests that this Bill is intended to increase the number of "war injuries" which will be entitled to redress by the Ministry of Pensions. So it is; I do not deny that in the least, but what it does not cover or attempt to cover is any disease due to war conditions, of which tuberculosis may be one. That is my view.

One has only to read subsection (2) of Clause 1. That does not say that all injuries are physical injuries which are of the nature of diseases. It does not get anywhere near saying that. It gives three specific cases—(a), (b), (c)—in which "war injuries," as defined by Section 10 of the existing Act, are to be included in this Bill. If your Lordships will bear with me for one moment I shall read the three cases. They refer to injuries which are physical injuries sustained and attributable, after a certain date, to certain circumstances. The first case concerns the taking of measures with a view to avoiding, preventing or hindering enemy action against ships, or as a precaution in anticipation of enemy action against ships, or for rescue or salvage purposes in consequence of enemy action against ships. Can anybody, with reason, suggest that that will include tuberculosis due to the conditions under which a merchant seaman has got to live? The latter have nothing to do with measures attributable to avoiding or hindering enemy action. It may be that the people have never been near an enemy ship. They may have sailed from here to Australia without seeing a ship, or trying to avoid one, for all I know, and the tuberculosis may be due simply to the terrible conditions of overcrowding existing in the forecastle of some merchant ship. That is paragraph (a); it cannot be within that.

Let us look at paragraph (b), which refers to the absence of lights or warning of danger. It is not due to the absence of lights or warning of danger that a man gets tuberculosis. It is due to the fact that he may be for weeks or months, living in a poisonous atmosphere at night and getting very little opportunity of fresh air on deck. It cannot be within (b). Let us look and see if it is within paragraph (c). Paragraph (c) refers to the carriage, by reason of circumstances connected with any such war as aforesaid, of any cargo in a manner which would be abnormal in times of peace… That has nothing to do with the fact that a merchant seaman is sleeping and living and having his food in a most unhealthy atmosphere owing to overcrowding in times of war and other war conditions. It cannot be within that. It does not matter what the construction of "war injuries" may be. "War injuries," prima facie, does not include tuberculosis, which is not a war injury; but apart from that, subsection (2) of Clause 1 of this Bill is so drawn that "injuries" cannot, because they are injuries attributable to three specific cases, possibly include diseases due to the confined atmosphere in which mariners live.

I cannot conceive anybody who takes the trouble to read this with care—as I have done on several occasions—having any doubt about that. I cannot help thinking that my noble friend, for whose judgment I have the greatest respect, has omitted to note that point—that it is not merely a question of what "war injuries" means; it is a question of war injuries attributable to the specific circumstances mentioned in (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (2) of Clause 1. It is that which makes the position such that tuberculosis is not covered. That is the point of law, and there are other lawyers than myself in this House, I cannot help thinking, who take the same view as I do.

There is one other thing I have to say on the law on the subject. I have no doubt that the Ministry of Pensions think, just as the Lord Chancellor has told us, that he himself has given a pledge. I would advise you to consider for a moment the value of a pledge, even coming from the Lord Chancellor, in a case like this. The question is what the law is when this Bill becomes an Act. When this measure comes to be construed in a Court of Law, either the lowest or the highest Court, it will not be admissible to anybody to quote what the Lord Chancellor said on June 23, 1942. He will be stopped. We cannot, as Judges, when we are construing measures, listen to what has taken place in this House or in the other place. We are not allowed to do it. As to the suggestion that we ought to allow this Bill to pass as it is without any clear language to make it certain that a disease due to war conditions may be covered, the result of allowing it to pass in that form would be—it may be at some time such as when for all I know this Government is not in power, and for all I know the noble Viscount will not be on the Woolsack; we cannot tell in these changing circumstances every day—that it would be no good to try and tell people what happened at this debate. I also venture to think, as a lawyer, that it would be a very bad example to let a measure pass without using clear language to express the Government's intention. Why should we not make that perfectly clear? Whether I am right or whether the noble Lord is right, make perfectly clear what the measure means.

Then the Lord Chancellor has another point which is one, I agree, that has to be borne in mind. He says that this Amendment is one which may have the effect of excluding some other injury from disease, or something of that sort—some other disease which the Government desire to cover. Well, if they do, let them add to the (a), (b) and (c) in subsection (2) of Clause 1. Let them tell us what it is they desire to cover, and word it so that tuberculosis is covered. But if that is not the case, I confess I am not impressed by the fact that there may be something else on which there may be some doubt thrown, because I am perfectly sure there is doubt thrown on the Bill as it stands. Of that I have not the smallest doubt, and I would add this. Take the case of somebody who by enemy action suffers, say, a lesion of the heart. I am not denying that that may be a physical injury due to a specific act of bombardment or something of the sort. My whole point is that the Bill as it stands does not cover a disease caused by continuous occupation of certain places in a mercantile vessel during war-time. That, as I venture to think, has got to be covered in order that these unfortunate men may know where they are.

I need say nothing more to add to the eloquent words of my noble friend Lord Cork, in supporting this Amendment. Everybody in the House knows—and the Lord Chancellor fully agrees—that these people are entitled to every consideration in such a matter as this. I will only say, on that point, that I think we all know that but for the behaviour of the Merchant Service in this war, we could not have brought it to its present state, and we should be certain to lose it. We cannot get on without these men. If a proportion of them were what is commonly known as yellow, we could not get food and the other things that we do get brought by merchant seamen to this country to help us carry on the war. It is not a case, therefore, for leaving the smallest doubt as to whether the case of people with tuberculosis are covered or not.

There is only one final word I would say and it is this. Even if there were some doubtful obscure disease—I cannot imagine one—due to war conditions which might be excluded by reason of this Amendment, it is perfectly trifling compared to the point on which my noble and gallant friend has based this Amendment. You will remember that on the last occasion, on the Second Reading, he made a statement, or quoted from an official report, that of the deaths occurring among men within twelve months of leaving seagoing employment, 20 per cent. are due to tuberculosis. That is an enormous proportion. I should think 20 per cent. is twenty times as great as the normal incidence of tuberculosis among the civil population. It is the great mercantile seamen's disease. It kills thousands of men in the course of a comparatively short period. It is a matter which the country after the war must take up, with a view to altering the conditions in some way and adopting measures to prevent the enormous mortality from this cause among mercantile seamen on whom, as I have already said, the future of the country may depend. It really is not a case for what my noble and learned friend calls logic chopping. It is a case for taking the ordinary common-sense view and making it perfectly clear that Lord Cork's Amendment is carried into effect.


I think the three speeches to which we have listened have done much to clear the issue. Noble Lords are obviously in complete agreement in the wish to give full justice and the utmost equality of treatment between the Merchant Service and naval ratings. It therefore resolves itself into the problem of the best drafting to secure the intention of the Government and to prevent any possible misunderstanding or appeals to the Courts in future. The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, has shown that the Government want to remove any possible grievance, and that it is far from their thoughts, as some of us understood before, to make a distinction between a disability due to enemy action and a disability due to general conditions of living at sea. That, I take it, is quite clearly the intention of the Ministry of Pensions and the Lord Chancellor.

They are not, of course, conceding full equality of treatment as between the naval rating and the mercantile marine, and I take it that the reason is that there is a certain difficulty in doing so through doubt about the "attributability." There are cases in the sanatorium of the Seamen's Hospital Society—King George's Sanatorium for Sailors—of royal naval ratings who have never been to sea at all, but have spent the whole of their service in barracks, and who have got a complete insurance against tuberculosis consequences for the rest of their lives or until they are cured. But that type of case is excluded by the drafting of this Bill, and it may be that there is some justice for it. It may be impossible to be sure that men who have never been to sea have had their disability caused during their service, although that is much less likely in the case of a naval rating because he has had a thorough examination before being accepted. I take it that it is this point which has caused the extremely cumbersome drafting of the Bill. It is laying down the conditions which are to apply to the Mercantile Marine and which are not applying equally to the Royal Navy. That is why they have not said the Mercantile Marine during the war is to be treated just like the Royal Navy.

But in resolving our previous doubts about tuberculosis the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has filled me with new fears. He said that it was possible to have two views as to whether tuberculosis was a physical injury. He went on to say he was satisfied the Courts would take the view that it was a physical injury, but he outlined—what was new to me—the fact that there is a lot of case law about tuberculosis and other diseases——


May I be allowed to interrupt? There seems to be some slight misapprehension. In the case of pensions administered by the Ministry of Pensions they are administered under a scheme over which naturally the Ministry has control and they are not cases that come to the Courts at all. If I was defending a doubtful interpretation which might come up to be decided in the Law Courts, that would be different, but I was explaining the view taken by the authorities who drew up the scheme.


I take it there are certain doubtful cases which are diseases to laymen but may be treated as physical injuries?


The Ministry of Pensions will so treat tuberculosis. It will treat tuberculosis as a physical injury.


I do not want to get that result which the noble and learned Viscount suggested when he said that if we put in tuberculosis we are going to exclude other things. Therefore I suggest that we should make sure of the drafting of the Bill. If there is any doubt that it is only tuberculosis that is going to be included and certain other things are not, let us make sure that everything is included. It is a matter of drafting. Probably the noble and learned Viscount can produce a much better solution than I can suggest on the spur of the moment, but it seems to me that the obvious solution is for the noble Earl to move his Amendment in a wider form and to put in, instead of "tuberculosis," "diseases due to war conditions" with or without the proviso that they must have been contracted at sea. I do not think there could be any real difficulty about the Money Resolution to which reference has been made. We can surely take the Government's word for it that it was intended to cover all diseases. If it was the intention to cover all diseases, and if the House of Commons had that in mind when they passed the Money Resolution, surely they could not raise any question of Privilege if we so amended the Bill as to give a full interpretation of their intention as defined by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. I would beg that we do not leave this matter in doubt, but that the Government will accept some such Amendment as I have outlined in order to make quite sure that not only tuberculosis but all diseases due to war conditions at sea are covered.


I think the noble Earl who moved this Amendment is to be congratulated. When we find two eminent legal luminaries differing as they have done to-day we have proof that something must be put into the Bill which will remove all doubt that tuberculosis and other organic diseases are covered. I could not help thinking of that old saying, with which no doubt your Lordships are familiar, and which I need not quote in full, but which ends "and honest folk come by their own." I think all sailors will thank the noble Earl for having moved this Amendment and I would urge that the drafting of the Bill should be altered in such a manner as to remove any doubt. It can be easily done. The Amendment asks for a measure of simple justice for a body of men who have rendered great service to this country. It is through their efforts that we can live in these islands. These are days of change and the change that we are asking to be made is very small compared with many changes that have been undertaken to meet the exigencies of war.

In my opinion there is no logical reason for making any distinction between enemy action and war conditions. War conditions are due to enemy action and enemy action creates war conditions. Whether a man contracts tuberculosis through enemy action or as the result of war conditions makes no difference to his suffering, and it should make no difference to his eligibility for compensation. I cannot understand why the Government should insist upon this distinction. It cannot be a question of cost because the cost is nothing in our war expenditure. Do the Government thick for any reason that they will be flooded with a lot of claimants to pensions? If so, they can surely insert provisions as a safeguard against that.

The men's services are accepted and surely, that being so, liability to compensate them for suffering of whatever kind should also be accepted. There is no man in the Fighting Services of the Crown who is accepted if he is not a fit man. We should have fit men in the Mercantile Marine and the Government should see that these men are properly medically examined before they are accepted for service. To-day that examination is done in a somewhat perfunctory manner by a medical officer of the Shipping Federation. It is done when the men join the pool and when they are taken from the pool and go into a ship, but it is not done before every voyage. There seems certainly to be a case for tightening up the machinery in this respect, and the Government should see that it is done. If on examination it was found that a man had a tendency to tuberculosis it could be explained to him that war service would aggravate his condition and he could be advised not to go to sea. If the call of the sea was so great or his desire to serve his country was so great that he persisted, then he could be told that he did so at his own risk, and the Government would be absolved from any claim in his case. Such a man aboard ship not only runs the personal risk of his disease being aggravated but becomes a menace to those with whom he is associated on board ship in confined conditions.

To deny compensation to a man who has become a sufferer from tuberculosis as a result of war conditions, on the ground that cause and effect cannot be proved to meet some iron-clad regulation, is equivalent to denying a pension to a man whose leg was shot off because he could not produce the missile that caused the injury. I appeal to the Government to be a little more generous and broad-minded in this matter. It is not so much a case for strict legal construction as for human interpretation. In all cases the man concerned should be given the benefit of the doubt. If a promise is made by the Government that the Bill will be redrafted on the lines suggested, then I feel sure the noble Earl and those supporting him will be relieved to find that they will not be placed in a position of having to divide the Committee.


May I be allowed to intervene again? It is quite plain to me that many of your Lordships—it may be the majority, I do not know—hold a view favourable to this matter being considered in the spirit in which some of the speeches have been made. It is quite clear—I have never regarded our debates here as being cut and thrust—that we are all agreed in trying to do the reasonable thing. In my speech—I am afraid rather a long speech—I tried to show some of the difficulties which the Ministry may feel, but I myself should certainly advise the Ministry, and I am sure they will accept that advice, that they should consider what has been said here with a view to framing such an Amendment as would meet at any rate some of the points raised.

For instance, the speech of my noble friend Lord Moyne, which was very moderate indeed, indicated a possible direction. One is rather at a disadvantage here in your Lordships' House because one cannot communicate with the people really responsible. Therefore I do not think I ought to do more than say that if, in the circumstances, the noble and gallant Earl were prepared at this stage to withdraw his Amendment, I would make it my business to make representations to the Minister and see whether he, with the help, of course, of other Ministers concerned, could not make some proposal and have it put on the Paper, which will have the effect of meeting views expressed by the noble and gallant Earl and those who have spoken in support of his Amendment. I am sure we are all agreed as to what we want. The question is what is the best way to get it.


It would be better in my view if the principle was inserted in this Bill. If we do not insert it now and if the Amendment is withdrawn, there will be no Report stage.


I do not apologize for speaking at this stage despite the reassuring statement which has just been made on behalf of the Government by the noble and learned Viscount. His first speech in answer to the noble and gallant Earl was, in my opinion, a most unsatisfactory one, as has been pointed out by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham. We must remember that this matter was raised on the Second Reading, and when the noble Viscount, Lord Clifden, replied he used certain arguments in opposing the idea of compensating seamen who contracted tuberculosis, especially those who got tuberculosis in consequence, as he said, of the stress and strain of war conditions. He said that to do so would be to do more for them than is done for other war workers. Many people to-day are working under very hard conditions which may expose them to the risk of contracting tuberculosis. Clearly these thoughts were not the noble Viscount's own, for I know that when you speak from a Government Bench on somebody else's Bill you are rather in the position of Balaam—you can only utter words that you have been told to speak. The noble Viscount has to speak to a brief and so there could have been no doubt in his mind when he introduced this Bill on the Second Reading, that the Government were opposed to compensating seamen in respect of tuberculosis if it arose from the general strain and stress of war, because to give compensation to them would necessitate it being extended to other civil workers. I do not think it is out of place, despite the reassurance of the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack, slightly to traverse that argument.

After all, do you, when you consider legislation for civilian workers, consider whether if you granted them some benefit it would be applicable to the merchant seamen? When you decide in Parliament that periods of labour in civil factories should be so many hours a week and so many days a week, do you say, "We cannot reduce those hours of labour because the hours of labour of the merchant seaman are unlimited. He may have to work for twenty-four hours a day continuously and seven days a week"? When you consider legislation intended to make conditions of life for the civil worker as favourable as they should be; when you make rules for the protection of his health; rules to ensure that he must have a certain space in which to sleep, that he must have a panel doctor to attend to him when he is ill and so on, do you say: "We cannot give the civilian worker these things because you must understand that the merchant seaman has none of them"? Surely what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you say that we cannot limit civilian advantages because of the disadvantage at which it would place the merchant seaman, similarly you must say it is unfair, to deny to the merchant seaman privileges which the country wishes to give him because of the disadvantage at which it would place the civilian.

The whole argument falls to the ground, and it is the only argument that has been used at all by Government spokesmen in opposing this Amendment. I say it is the only one because the argument used by the noble and learned Viscount to-day avoided the main question. To say that tuberculosis is admitted to be a physical injury begs the point. Physical injury is only compensated for in this Bill, as the noble Viscount, Lord Maugham, has pointed out, when it is due to really direct enemy action.


Oh, no.


I quite agree that that word "direct" is not legally accurate. The implication is that it is only under conditions of (a), (b) and (c) that the compensation due in respect of physical injury is granted. When the injury is caused by general conditions of life then compensation is excluded. The seaman's ship is his home: that is the whole difference between the seaman and the landsman. The landsman works, perhaps, at a dangerous profession; he may have to work under conditions of dust which do directly affect his lungs—and in certain cases he gets compensation for that work—but when his work is over he goes home to be looked after by his wife. He has, possibly, sixteen hours of rest before he resumes his unpleasant and dangerous task. Does the seaman go home when he has finished his work? He cannot—that is the whole basis of our claim. The seaman is a special professional man, and those who, like myself and the noble and gallant Earl who moved this Amendment, have spent over fifty years of our lives commanding and administering seamen, know how great is this tubercular danger on the sea. I can give your Lordships details to emphasize to you the very rapid development of a case of tuberculosis.

I was in command of the Atlantic Fleet and we did an exercise going from England to Gibraltar in January. It was exceedingly rough. We were six days at sea. We arrived at Gibraltar after having been severely knocked about by the weather and after the small ships had all been battened down. After a week in port I visited the naval hospital, and there I found a young man, only nineteen years of age, who had been through the training ship and had been passed into the Navy as medically fit for sea service, lying in bed in an advanced state of virulent tuberculosis. I asked the medical officer the circumstances of the case, and he said: "This man, by his medical history, had nothing wrong with him when he left England; but during those six days in a destroyer, knocking about with the ventilation shut down altogether, the ventilators screwed clown to keep the water out and the ports shut, he developed this disease." The man died within three weeks. Luckily, that is not a typical case, but it is a very good example of the danger that the seaman runs.

It is really not from charity, nor from any feeling of sentiment, that I support this Amendment; I do so from a sense of justice and a desire for wisdom in administration. It is well known that a great many men have dormant tuberculosis. Very often tubercular symptoms may occur in a child between the ages of four and nine, but by care and treatment they can be overcome, and the wound in the lung can be healed; but those conditions, am informed on good medical authority, may reappear, in that a man who has suffered from them is exceedingly likely, under the conditions of sea life, suddenly to develop virulent tuberculosis. In those circumstances not only is his own life jeopardized, but he jeopardizes the lives of his shipmates; and that is a very important matter of which those who command seamen are very conscious. It is not possible to isolate a man who develops tuberculosis in a merchant ship on the way to Australia. There may be no doctor on the ship to look after him or to tell him what is the matter with him. He must go on living in that ship among his messmates, very likely sleeping in a hammock which touches the hammock of the next man to him, and with his feet only a couple of feet from the deck overhead, from which the hammock is slung. In those circumstances the chances of infection are enormous; the risk that he will give the disease to his next-door neighbour is very great indeed.

The State can safeguard itself against any undue cost—if, unfortunately, that has to be considered—in granting this request by examining men before they enter the Merchant Navy. There is what is known as "mass X-ray treatment," which is a cheap form of examination by X-ray by which a very considerable number of men can be cheaply and rapidly tested to see whether they have tubercular weakness. If that system was adopted, the risk of a man going to sea and endangering the lives of others by conveying tubercular infection would be almost eradicated. It would not mean that a man who had been X-rayed and who showed no signs of the disease might not develop tuberculosis under sea conditions, but it would be an enormous check to the danger. That should be done. I hope that the Committee will support the noble and gallant Earl, and that he will hesitate to withdraw his Amendment at the present stage, because he has had no assurance from the noble and learned Lord Chancellor that, even if the matter is reconsidered, the Government will reconsider it along the important lines of including tuberculosis and similar diseases which arc due to the stress and strain of war conditions and to the conditions of living of the seaman, whose ship is his home.


After the very interesting debate which we have had, I hope that the noble and gallant Earl will accept the proposal of the Government. I came here fully intending to vote for his Amendment, but, on behalf of many friends on these Benches, I should like to say that, if he presses his Amendment, we shall not feel able to vote for it. We think that this Bill requires further consideration. My noble friend Lord Moyne seemed to me to hit the mark when he said that it was not possible to single out tuberculosis; there are other diseases as well, as the noble and learned Lord Chancellor said. I think that my noble and learned friend Lord Maugham is perfectly right when he says that the pledge should be in the Bill. Lord Banbury, with whom I was associated for many years, used to say: "Never trust the Government; insist on seeing it in the Bill." I hope that the noble and gallant Earl who moved this Amendment will follow that advice, but at the same time will now withdraw his Amendment, so as to give the Government time to consider the whole situation in the light of the most important debate which has taken place.


It seems to me that the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, accustomed as he is to sense the wishes of Parliament, has recognized that the majority of your Lordships, and certainly my noble friends and myself, want to see this Bill give effect to what the noble and gallant Earl has proposed. Personally, I should have thought that the statement by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, was a correct interpretation of the Bill, but I am not a lawyer. However, we have had the offer of the Government to take account of what has been said, and to try, presumably in concert with the noble and gallant Earl, to insert words in the Bill to make it clear that it does mean what the noble and gallant Earl wishes it to mean. I understand that it would not be very easy to do that unless an Amendment was made at this stage. I suggest that the most convenient method would be to adjourn the discussion on the Bill now. The noble and gallant Earl would not withdraw his Amendment. Nothing would happen except that the useful conference which has been suggested would take place, and, when the matter was taken up next time, the whole question would probably be agreed. If the debate is adjourned, we shall, I think, be able to effect what is desired.


I should like to support that suggestion. As an old Leader of the House, I did not come here with the intention of speaking, but, in listening to the debate, I have been very much impressed by the fact that the Government and their critics all profess to mean the same thing. It should not be beyond the wit of your Lordships to devise suitable words to carry out what is intended, and my noble friend Lord Moyne has pointed out that this Amendment might, and probably would, exclude certain things which we want to see included. I think that it will be very much wiser to let the Government discuss this matter with my noble and gallant friend Lord Cork and Orrery, and devise suitable words to carry out what is apparently the intention of every one in this Committee, and which I think could be more easily carried out if the Government supported it.


As a member of the Royal Navy, I naturally wish to see everything possible done to help the merchant seamen, and it appears that the feeling of the whole Committee and of His Majesty's Government is the same. I should like to make one suggestion of how that feeling might be expressed. If the words "or diseases contracted" could be inserted on page 1, line 21, after the words "physical injuries sustained," I think that might meet the wishes of the Government and of the Committee. I disagree with one thing that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, said, because I consider that paragraph (a) covers nearly all the conditions due to war. That paragraph reads: the taking of measures with' a view to avoiding, preventing or hindering enemy action against ships … That includes the darkening of ships and the closing of watertight doors, which are two of the things which most make for overcrowding and bad ventilation in ships. Possibly if the words "or diseases contracted" were inserted, as I have suggested, that might be a way out which would satisfy both the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Cork, and the Government.


We have had an extremely interesting and important debate. One thing has been perfectly clear, and that is that our intention is the same; and a second is that there is a difference about the methods by which that intention should be realized. My noble friend the Lord Chancellor has made a suggestion that the Amendment should be withdrawn and that we should give some further consideration to it. Now Lord Addison has suggested that we should adjourn the debate altogether. That will give us all time for further consideration. I am quite certain there is nobody on the Government Bench or elsewhere who has not realized the very strong feeling that exists. We are anxious to have agreement, and I therefore suggest that the easiest thing would be for me to move that the debate be now adjourned, and I therefore beg to move.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned—(Viscount Cranborne.)

On Question, Motion agreed to; debate adjourned accordingly.

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