HL Deb 08 April 1970 vol 309 cc147-228

2.49 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve it-self into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.


My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 1, I would point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 1 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 2.

Clause 7 [Payment of Seamen's Wages]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 1: Page 4, line 39, leave out from beginning to ("exceeds") in page 5, line 4 and insert ("If the amount payable to a seaman under sub-section (1) of this section")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 1. Before speaking to it, if the Committee would bear with me for a moment I think it might save time if at the outset I said very briefly a word which will apply to virtually all my Amendments and to all that we from this side of the Committee are seeking to do on this Bill. We are seeking to make this Bill reflect as accurately as possible the recommendations of the Court of Inquiry chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson. Incidentally, if the noble and learned Lord has no objection, I might suggest that for the purposes of this debate we should refer to that Report as "Pearson".

I recognise that it is not, of course, the role of Parliament to ratify and to rubber stamp everything that every Royal Com-mission or committee or court of inquiry proposes for conversion into legislation. Some reports are biased, some are incomplete, some are out of date. In some cases the terms of reference might be thought to be wrong, but I submit that in this case matters are entirely otherwise. The Report which we are acting on to-day comes from a Court of Inquiry as balanced as it is eminent, and as impartial as it is experienced. First, as its Chairman we have the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson; then we have Mr. Hugh Clegg, a distinguished and much respected academic worker in the field of industrial relations. We have Mr. A. J. S. Brown, the vice-chairman of the C.B.I., subsequently succeeded by Mr. Garner, and then we have Mr. J. O'Hagan, as Chairman of the Council of the T.U.C.

Not only is that the character of the Court—character of that quality—but its terms of reference, which have been generally agreed to be both apt and comprehensive, specifically required that Court of Inquiry to make recommendations for the amendment of the law. And this is what they have done, among many other things. So these recommendations which have been generally accepted as a package by all the parties in the industry and this Bill, which emerges from consultations that have been going on for the past eight years, are the reasons why we on this side of the Committee propose to give great weight to the recommendations of Pearson, and to probe closely the reasons for each and every departure from them. We shall want to be persuaded by extremely cogent arguments from the Minister before accepting any major departure.

With those preliminaries, I would now turn to Amendment No. 1, and to suggest that it might be discussed in con-junction with Amendment No. 3, for which, as it were, it is a paving Amendment, and to mention that both these Amendments are paving Amendments for Amendment No. 10. The matter we are dealing with here is the question of the payment to a seaman of the amount due to him on discharge from his ship and the presentation to him of an account of what is due to him. These are matters that were dealt with very thoroughly by Pearson, and are covered by paragraphs 364 and 365, which I shall paraphrase briefly.

These paragraphs recognise that in a number of cases there are two problems that have to be tackled when a seaman comes to be paid the full amount due to him on discharge. One is that it is not always possible in every ship to produce an up-to-date and accurate account at the moment of discharge. This is not hard to understand when it is recognised that this is a job which falls to the master in many of the smaller ships; and it falls to him at a moment when his primary duty is to navigate his ship into his home port, which, if it is a port in the United Kingdom, involves navigating it through some of the most congested seaways in the world and bringing it into port in weather which is not always ideal. In those circumstances, I am sure that all members of the Committee will agree that his prior duty lies in the safety of his ship and his crew, and with his navigation. In those circumstances it is not practicable to pro-duce absolutely accurate, up-to-date accounts in time for the discharge of the crew.

Secondly, it is not always convenient or possible to carry enough cash in the ship to pay every member of the crew the whole amount that is due to him. It was those circumstances which the Pear-son Committee sought to deal with. The solution they came to is set out in paragraph 363, which I will now quote precisely from the Report: The obligations in respect of the delivery to the seaman of the account of his wages should have a statutory basis in the sense that the Act would indicate that such an account is to be given to him. But the details of the obligations (as to time and as to the degree of accuracy required and as to adjustments and notification) should be contained in a clause in the articles of agreement.

It goes on to say that the clause or clauses should be negotiated on the Maritime Board, approved by the Board of Trade and dealt with in Regulations.

It is arising from those recommendations that this Amendment emerges. It is a matter which has been discussed in the Commons, though most of the discussion there was concerned with an alteration of the amount mentioned at the top of page 5 of the Bill. At the moment, the amount in line 4 on page 5 is £50, and the Pearson Committee recommended that it should be £20 in the case of those seamen who were due for an amount of wages in excess of that figure but whose wages could not be determined precisely and accurately at the point of discharge.

I ought to say that we fully recognise that the correct and normal, and right and proper procedure is set out in Clause 7(1); namely, that every seaman at discharge should get the full amount due to him and should receive an accurate account then and there. But for the reasons which I have already set out this will not always be the case, and we would suggest that if the amount pay-able to a seaman under Clause 7(1) exceeds £50 he should be paid £50; if it is less he should be paid whatever that sum is and that the account should follow if it has not been possible to produce it then and there within the week. We feel that this conforms far more closely to what the Pearson Committee recommended than what is now in the Bill. I beg to move.


There will be many occasions during this debate when reference will be made to the Pearson Report, and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, as to the immense contribution which that Report has made. But the noble Lord realises as well as I do that it is the duty of the Government to legislate, and it would be no excuse for failings in their legislation for them to say that it was not their fault but the fault of the Committee that recommended these things. So one must take Reports such as the Pearson Report in their context. Moreover, it is not unknown for both sides of Parliament to use a Report to back their legislation or their Amendments when it suits them and to ignore it when it does not. So one must bear these points in mind. The noble Lord sought to throw the cloak of Pear-son over all these Amendments, and I am afraid that that is not a cogent argument for me to accept them.

Really I am commenting on Amendments 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 13, all of which seek to achieve the same end. We have a difference of opinion about certain matters in this Bill, and those differences are related to the convenience and efficiency of paying wages. As I under-stand it, the basic argument behind the Amendments is that with modern methods of accounting it would be highly con-venient and efficient for a shipowner to delay payment of wages for seven days after men had been discharged and give the men a sum of money which would keep them going. He would then be able to use his accounting machinery, and that would relieve the captain and his officers from making arduous calculations. That is a perfectly fair argument and in other circumstances, if one did not have to take account of contrary arguments, one would accept it.

Amendment No. 1 removes the need for an account of wages 24 hours before discharge. Amendment No. 3 removes reference to the payment of a quarter of the wages on discharge and relies on a figure of £50, which unfortunately might rapidly become out of date. Amendment No. 4 removes the penalty for non-payment of wages of payment of wages for up to 56 days, and relies on a penalty of 20 per cent. interest. Amendment No. 6 removes the penalty even if the £50 is not paid at the time of discharge; that is to say, a shipowner can be late in payment of any wages—the seaman goes without wages altogether for seven days and there is no penalty for it.

By Amendment No. 7 the penalty is not to apply when the seaman is em- ployed or able to obtain employment; that is to say, if he has not been paid his proper wages but is able to get some other employment, but refuses it, the shipowner suffers no penalty for delaying his wages. Amendment No. 10 removes the need for any account of wages to be given to the seaman 24 hours before or at the time of his discharge. This seems to me to be very poor treatment. Amendment No. 13 removes the reference to estimates; it is a consequential Amendment. In one context, those changes are completely reasonable; they tend to efficiency and will help the officers of the ships and save them some labour. But they will impinge on the normal rights of people at work. They will leave them in a position where payment may be delayed for a very long period. They will make the attitude of employers slack. On those grounds I cannot recommend your Lordships to accept any of these Amendments.


We both seem to be throwing cloaks over each other, the Minister throwing one cloak over seven Amendments, when I have moved only one and suggested that we discuss two. If I may, I will refute his argument on Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 when I have moved them, and in the meantime concentrate on No. 1 and perhaps bring in No. 3. The purpose of these Amendments is certainly not the convenience of the masters. There is no word in the clause, when amended, to that effect. The only words are: and it is not practicable to pay the whole of it at the time of discharge". I explained in moving the Amendment why it is not practicable, and the only reason why it is not practicable and the only defence that could be raised by the master under this clause would be that he had to attend to the navigation for the safety of his ship and crew. I should have thought that this was the only factor which concerned Pearson, and that it was a very cogent factor. Without an Amendment of this kind, the master will be left in the position of having to choose between getting his ship in safely and fiddling about with a lot of accounts.

Perhaps I ought to have brought for your Lordships to see the document with which the master has to contend when drawing up these accounts. Anybody who has had to cope with P.A.Y.E., to say nothing of all the other deductions and additions which at the moment have to be taken into account, will know what an intolerable burden it is on the master navigating his ship to have to choose between getting those two things right. I would not accept that the purpose of the Amendment is the convenience of the master. I do not think I want to labour the point. It is not all that important. I had hoped for a much more cogent explanation of why the noble Lord at this point wanted to depart so far from the clear recommendation of Pearson on this point. But this is not a matter we should want to press as much as some others later on. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 1.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 2: Page 5, line 2, leave out ("his").

The noble Lord said: This is a purely drafting Amendment. Subsection (1) of Clause 7 states that the time when the seaman leaves the ship on being discharged therefrom is referred to in this and the next following clause as "the time of discharge". However, in sub-section (2) this time is incorrectly referred to as "the time of his discharge". This Amendment corrects the drafting by omitting the word " his". I beg to move.


I accept from the noble Lord that this is indeed just a drafting Amendment, but I should be grateful if he could give us an assurance that by leaving out this word we are not referring all the calculations that apply to a particular member of the crew back to some single moment which could be fixed as the moment of discharge of the whole crew. This, I think, would not be fair to individual members. The whole business of the lapse of a week and running on of wages, if this is agreed, ought to apply to the discharge of the individual member of the crew about whom we are thinking and I should want to know that this point is not lost by cutting out the word "his".


I can inform the noble Lord that I am assured that this Amendment has no substantive effect. I not really answering his question, because I have not alerted myself to the deeper implications. I will look at the other point subsequently.


If we may have an assurance before the Bill leaves us, I am happy to accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 5, line 8, leave out subsection (3) and insert: ("(3) If any amount which, under the preceding provisions of this section, is pay-able to a seaman is not paid at the time at which it is so payable, it shall carry interest at the rate of 20 per cent. per annum.").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment again is dealing with the question of payment of wages due to a seaman on discharge, but once again at this point the Bill departs radically from the proposals of Pearson, in that it continues what we believe to be an archaic system where-by if the full amount due to a seaman is not paid at his discharge one of the two penalties that fall upon the owner is that his wages run on. There was a time when they ran on indefinitely. The proposal now is that they should run on for 56 days. This was a matter which was carefully considered by Pearson and rejected.

May I refer to the actual terms of the recommendation, which is No. 7(c)? Following a full discussion of this matter, reported in paragraphs 372 to 377 and paragraph 389, the conclusion Pearson comes to is that there should be a penalty for delay in payment of wages, and for this purpose a high rate of interest would be sufficient.

That is quite clear and emphatic. In another place Amendments were moved and there was a further discussion about the matter, but the proposal that I am now making was lost on a Division. What we should like to hear from the Minister now are his precise reasons for once again departing from a clear recommendation on this subject by the Pearson Court of Inquiry. I beg to move.


If it is not out of order, my Lord Chairman, may I give the assurance for which the noble Lord asked on the previous Amendment? I have a note from the Box that the assurance asked for can be given. The term "discharge" relates to the individual seaman and not to the crew in general. I hope that that is not out of order.


It is out of order, but I am glad to accept the assurance.


The Amendment the noble Lord is now moving seeks to re-move the provision in Clause 7 that where amounts due to be paid are not so paid, wages will run on for periods up to 56 days and to substitute a simple provision for 20 per cent. interest. I am sure that there should be a severe penalty if wages are not paid when they are due. The suggestion for 56 days is a limitation on what has gone before. At present, wages run on indefinitely. I agree that Pearson preferred to provide for a high rate of interest instead of wages running on. This appears from paragraph 377 of the Report. But in paragraph 376 the Report suggests that if the principle of wages running on is retained there should be a maximum period of two months. We felt that a 20 per cent. rate of interest during this period would not provide a sufficient deterrent against dilatory payment during which time the seaman's hardship would be severe. These are the reasons why I think that a more severe penalty than that primarily recommended by the Pearson Report is necessary.

One should take account of the claim by officers' and seamens' associations that this severe deterrent is required for a small minority of shipowners who, it is claimed, would be unmoved by the prospect of interest even at 20 per cent. but are now brought to heel in negotiation by the provisions about wages running on. It was on the balance of judgment that we felt that the retention of the running on penalty was justified. I am sorry again not to agree with the noble Lord, but I think that to some of the less reputable small shipowners 20 per cent. is not a sufficient deterrent. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to withdraw his Amendment.


Once again I think it is a pity that the most creditable attempt by the Court of Inquiry to bring this particular feature of the Merchant Navy, the payment of wages, into the 'seventies, and to secure that things are done in a rather more sensible and efficient way, has not won the day. I think that this particular device is not so good as the simple and straightforward one recommended by Lord Pearson, and I should have thought that a 20 per cent. interest penalty was quite adequate, coupled with the other safe-guards that will still remain for seamen. If we are to have wages running on like this, then I shall certainly need to move the succeeding Amendments, because I think that to have wages running on without the further safeguards which I shall seek to insert would certainly be quite unfair to the shipowners concerned. But, having said that, I beg leave—


Before my noble friend withdraws his Amendment, can the Minister give us a little more information? I do not think many noble Lords are likely to know how many cases occur of wages running on. Is it a common or a rare occurrence? We really have not been given much information. This is an extraordinary provision, is it not?


I have not the details of the number of cases. But it is not the number of cases where running on occurs that may be important; it is the fact that the penalty exists. Often a penalty prevents the offence, and there-fore in this case, while there may be only a small number of cases in which the penalty is exacted for running on, nevertheless, the withdrawal of the penalty might allow a large number of cases to eventuate. I do not think that the number of cases, which I believe to be small, where running on takes place is a criterion of the effectiveness of the penalty itself.


So far as I am aware, this provision does not obtain in any other walk of life. Why is it necessary in the case of the Merchant Navy? There must be some reason why ship-owners are apparently reluctant to pay their men. There must be some reason for this most extraordinary provision. I suppose it is a relic from the dim ages.


It is a provision that exists now in a more extreme form, in that wages run on without any limitation to 56 days. This provision has been in existence for a long time. I take it that the Committee realise, as no doubt the noble Lord on the Front Bench will claim, that the conditions in the shipping industry are quite different from those of other industries. Ships arrive, possibly after long voyages at sea; seamen wish to return to their families; they wish to meet commitments which may have arisen in their homes during their absence. They may, indeed, land at ports other than their home port and have to travel long distances to their homes; and they wish to get the money which is their due at the proper time, which is on discharge. The fact that calculations have to be estimates, in some cases as made by ships' officers and crew, is acknowledged in this Bill; but there should be penalties for delay beyond seven days. This Bill produces those penalties.

I have already informed your Lord-ships that it is the opinion of those employed in the industry that there is a quite small number of shipowners to whom the 20 per cent. penalty is not a sufficient deterrent. One cannot leave seamen exposed to the business of arriving after voyages and having to go with-out wages which are properly due to them, simply because the penalties are not sufficient to catch the miscreants. This provision will not bother the efficient and large shipping companies. The other point that I have not so far made but should make, is that there is a tendency to talk about wages and wage packets having to be made up by the master of the ship. I would point out that comments of this sort are not always accurate. Ships have officers as well as masters, and it is not always the master who has to make up the wages; officers can do that for him, the master, and in a well-regulated organisation I should have thought that much of this work could be delegated.


The impression I get from the noble Lord who has just spoken is that the seaman's wages have to be paid on his discharge, and that these wages accrue over a long period of time. A further impression is that the money the man has earned over this long period of time falls due at one period. But is it not a fact that what really happens is that, on the instructions of the seaman, advances are made to his family during the whole course of the time that he is on the voyage?


The seaman has the option of making allotments to his family of part of his wages. I do not know to what extent this is customary, but I have no doubt that it is fairly customary. The fact is that wages due to him have accrued during the voyage, and he expects—and in a great majority of cases gets—his wages when he is discharged, with an account of how they are made up; and this is right and proper. If he does not get the whole of the wages due, the Bill lays down that he shall get £50 of them, or a quarter, whichever is the greater; and that, too, is right and proper. The Bill then lays down that within seven days he has to be paid the balance, and that if he is not paid the balance within those seven days then severe penalties arise. The seaman's wages run on for a maximum period of two months, and at the end of that period, if there is still a balance unpaid, the employer will have to pay a fine, so to speak, of 20 par cent. on these wages.

This all seems to me to be highly reasonable. It is admittedly a very severe penalty, but, of course, the way to avoid a penalty is not to commit the default. There does not seem to be any good reason why shipowners should not be able to pay £50, or a quarter of what is due, immediately, and the balance within seven days. If they cannot do that, then I think severe penalties should be levied in order to protect the position of the seaman. For these reasons I do not think this Amendment, which eliminates the penalty of these wages running on for fifty-six days, should be accepted by your Lordships' Committee.


I should just like to say that the noble Lord put the matter correctly, in my estimation, when he used the word "balance".


I still remain firmly of the opinion that we are necessarily retaining an archaic and inconvenient arrangement. I think the 20 per cent. penalty would be quite sufficient to do what is necessary, and we have Pearson's recommendation to that effect. But because that penalty would be sufficient, and I think will be sufficient, it does not require us to spend very much longer on this point. In my view, it is a pity that we have not gone for the simpler and sufficiently effective system, but I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.23 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 5: Page 5, line 8, after ("amount") insert (" exceeding £ 5 ").

The noble Lord said: If we are to have the running on of wages, then I believe that my Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7, which I should like to move separately, will be required to make sure that it does not operate unjustly. The first Amendment, No. 5, is designed to secure that if wages are to run on they should not do so if the amount overdue and unpaid is trivial, say under £ 5. This is a point which Pearson specifically identified as liable to produce an absurdity. I think it would be simplest and briefest if I quoted directly from paragraph 374, which says: On the other hand this provision as it stands can produce an absurdity. Suppose that the master in the account of the seaman's wages which he has compiled and delivered to the seaman, has made an error, so that the sum shown as due is £ 1 less than it ought to be. That is a default of the master. The owners pay the deficient sum shown in the account. That is a default of the owners." Any amount overdue invokes the whole of this penalty, which is the full amount of wages due to a man running on after discharge, and which in this kind of case is out of all proportion to the mistake which has invoked it. This is not a matter which, so far as I am aware, was raised in another place, but it is a matter which was raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, at the Second Reading. If I understood him aright, I should like to invoke his support for this Amendment.


Some of these things become more and more strange as one looks into this strange world. If one reads the Bill as I read it, if the master has made a mistake in the accounts and still owes a seaman a sum of money and the seaman proves that that sum of money is owing to him, while the matter is in dispute and he has not been paid the balance, he is apparently on full pay. As I read the Bill that is what would happen. Perhaps the noble Lord will disprove my reading of the Bill.


During the Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, raised the point because he was not satisfied that a shipowner could not be penalised for a simple mistake. I propose to move an Amendment later, Amendment No. 8, which puts the matter beyond any doubt by including the word "mistake". I am informed that the Bill is fairly fool-proof, because it makes reference in such a way that if the matter were a mistake then the penalty would not arise.

I appreciate that the object of this Amendment is to avoid invoking the heavy penalty of full wages running on where the underpayment is £ 5 or less. If one knows—this is the point one comes to; it is a sort of tautological point— that one is underpaying by less than £ 5, which one would have to know in order to keep within the ambit of the penalty, then one would pay it. That is one point. It is a remedy. A further point is that the Bill in its present form (confirmed by the reference to "mistake" in subsection (4) which I propose to move) will cover the eventuality of miscalculation or accident by its provision for payment in accordance with the account under sub-section (2).

The effect of what I have said is that the Amendment is not necessary; the shipowner is not going to be caught be-cause the amount is trivial. I really do assure the noble Lord that it is unnecessary. If the sum of £ 5 is introduced, you are doing something which is legally rather difficult, because it implies a precision, an ability to know whether the amount is trivial—that is to say, under £ 5—which is quite foreign to a situation where the reason for the Amendment is that you are not certain where you stand. This introduces a slight legal complication which would be very difficult to interpret. It is on those grounds, and on my assurance that mistakes and the like for trivial amounts will not land the ship-owner in penalties (and I give that assurance) that I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw his Amendment, taking into account that there are some legal niceties about stating an amount, a limit over which you must not go if you are not to incur penalties, when the whole essence of the situation you are dealing with is that you do not know what you owe.


I should like to look at this point again. I think the argument that the noble Lord was using in his defence applies more to the Amendments which we both have down as No. 8 and No. 9. Those Amendments deal with the question of the triviality of the error, and the nature of the default or the wrongful act which has caused some underpayment. My Amendment deals with the situation where the amount by which the seaman is paid short is less than £ 5, for whatever reason, and the underpayment arises. This is a different point. I think the complexity of the problem arises almost entirely from the determination of the Government to continue this archaic and absurd arrangement of wages running on, and not to rely on this much more sensible penalty. Having said that, I should like to move on to Amendments Nos. 6 and 7, which intro-duce safeguards of a different kind, and for the time being withdraw my Amendment No. 5.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.30 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 6: Page 5, line 9, leave out ("at the time at which it is so payable" and insert ("within seven days of his discharge").

The noble Lord said: This is another safeguard which we believe will be necessary if the Government insist on wages running on in this way. This particular safeguard is designed to restrict the application of these penalties, but in a different way. The comment that Pearson had to make which applies to this point is contained in paragraph 365 where, after an explanation of the sort of measures which should be taken to deal with the case with which we are concerned— namely, what happens when a man can-not be paid the full amount and given an account at the point of discharge—he said: This also would be a matter to be covered by a clause in the articles of agreement, or by Regulations. But here we have the Government trying to cover this point in the Bill itself, and I think this will lead to trouble. So far as I can make out, it is not a matter which was discussed at all in another place.

The Amendment is designed to defer the application of the penalties upon employers for non-payment of wages, for seven days after discharge; that is to say, it would introduce a period of grace of a week during which wages would not run on. When it has not been possible to pay a seaman in full and to draw up a full and accurate account to be presented to him on discharge, the papers will be sent, for instance, by the master to the head-quarters of his company and processed through some accounting machinery and produced for the seaman within a week.

I understand that this is something which the shipowners are satisfied that they can do, and that the outcome of it will be satisfactory. It would be grossly unfair for the penalties to operate during that particular period. But, on the other hand, if after that period of one week the seaman is still underpaid, then the penalties should operate, and should operate from the original date of discharge. My Amendment is designed to secure that piece of equity. I beg to move.


With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I believe that this may be an Amendment the full implications of which have not been appreciated. If we were to accept Amendment No. 6, it would remove penalty from the shipowner, even if he failed to pay the seaman anything at all on discharge and delayed any payment for seven days. That is the effect of the Amendment. I do not believe that the noble Lord wants to move an Amendment having that effect, because it would be open to the shipowner to delay the payment of any wages at all on discharge for seven days, without penalty. We are always legislating for the evildoers and there are no doubt some small shipowners who would take advantage of this provision, and nothing at all would happen to them. I put it to the noble Lord that he does not want to bring about that effect.


No, I certainly do not want to bring that about. But I should be grateful if the Minister would elaborate a little more on how it is that my Amendment has that effect. I shall certainly withdraw it if he does.


I am in difficulty, be-cause I am relying on my note, which says, quite definitely, that that is the effect of the Amendment. I shall have to re-read the clause in the Bill and construe it.


Will it save the time of the Committee if the noble Lord accepts this Amendment, and explains more fully at the next stage of the Bill what he has just said? If he satisfies me that the effect of my Amendment is as he has explained, I shall of course withdraw it. If he will explain to me in the meantime why it has that effect I will give him that assurance, and if possible table something else before we get to the Report stage which secures what I want.


The noble Lord, as an ex-naval man, has a commendably original approach to matters, but I have never before heard the suggestion that the Government should accept an Amendment until it is explained at a later stage why they should reject it. I would rather follow the normal form, and if the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment I will see that a proper construing of the clause is given to him, so that he under-stands precisely why it will have that effect.


Maybe what I was suggesting was slightly irregular, but I think that what the Minister is now suggesting is just as irregular, if not more so. If I am to withdraw this Amendment, the Committee must have an explanation of the very brief point which the noble Lord made just now.


Let me read my note. I will tell your Lordships my difficulty in this matter. Amendments Nos. 1 and 6 are very closely interlinked, as the noble Lord recognises, and I have one note on both of them. I will read it to your Lordships: Clauses 7 and 8 are designed to provide that wages shall be paid in full in accordance with an account of wages delivered to the seaman 24 hours beforehand. If it is not practicable to pay this amount in full at the time, not less than £ 50 or one-quarter of the amount shown to be due in that account shall be paid and the remainder within seven days. The penalties in subsection (3) cover non-payment of any of these requirements. The Amendment would remove the connection with the account of wages (which I assume would not now be required) and there would be no penalty if no wages were paid for seven days. I appreciate the desire to simplify these arrangements but I do not think that this should be done at the expense of the seaman. That is a mere statement of the fact that the Amendment is so interpreted, but I confess that I have not gone into the underlying reasons why it has that effect. I have accepted the advice of experts that it would have that effect. But I will get the noble Lord a precise explanation of why it has that effect, if he will now withdraw his Amendment. If it does not have that effect, we shall have to reconsider his Amendment at a later stage of the Bill.


I read the Amendment as the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has read it on his second thoughts. But all this argument would be saved if only the noble Lord would bring the Bill up to date and abolish this anachronism about keeping seamen on full pay just because they are owed some money. That dates from Victorian or pre-Victorian times. There is a National Union of Sea-men nowadays, and goodness knows what else! and that kind of penalty is completely out of date. If necessary, put some sort of fine on the employer if he deliberately avoids payment. But to enable a man who through some error has not been paid to go on being in employment which he is not serving, is a complete anachronism, and the noble Lord's Party, who pride themselves on revising and bringing everything up to date, ought to accept that point.


Perhaps I ought to inform the Committee that some Members opposite want to rely on a 20 per cent. fine on wages, but your Lordships ought to know, if you have not done the calculation, that a 20 per cent. fine amounts to 7s. 6d. per week per £ 100, and to somebody who wants to avoid paying due wages on the due date it is not too heavy a premium to pay. If you are very short of cash and are getting near the bankruptcy level, you will happily pay that sum to hang on for a longer period to some of the money that should go to your seamen. I think that 20 per cent. is not a sufficient penalty, and that is why we have insisted on running on.


If you are short of cash and going into bankruptcy, where are you going to get the money to pay wages to people who are no longer working for you?


Then you will be pushed into the bankruptcy court, and the seamen will have a claim at law against your assets.


I think the Committee will agree that, however that may be, there is the matter of my Amendment No. 6 to be dealt with. I feel that the Committee, never mind about myself, has not had a proper explanation from the Minister as to why my Amendment has the effect that he says it has. If he can say that between now and the next stage

Aberdare, L. Daventry, V. Milverton, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Denham, L. [Teller.] Molson, L.
Ailwyn, L. Drumalbyn, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Albemarle, E. Dundee, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Allerton, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Oakshott, L.
Ashbourne, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Poltimore, L.
Auckland, L. Falkland, V. Rankeillour, L,
Barnby, L. Ferrier, L. Rathcavan, L.
Beauchamp, E. Fisher, L. Runciman of Doxford, V.
Berkeley, Bs. Fortescue, E. St. Oswald, L.
Bourne, L. Goschen, V. [Teller] Salter, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grenfell, L. Sandford, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Gridley, L. Sempill, Ly.
Burton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Shannon, E.
Carrington, L. Hawke, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Clwyd, L. Inglewood, L. Strathclyde, L.
Conesford, L. Jellicoe, E. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Cottesloe, L. Lauderdale, E. Thurlow, L.
Craigavon, V. Liverpool, E. Vivian, L.
Cromartie, E. Mancroft, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Archibald, L. Headfort, M. Roberthall, L.
Ardwick, L. Henderson, L. Royle, L.
Arwyn, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Rusholme, L.
Beswick, L. Hirshfield, L. Sainsbury, L.
Blyton, L. Hughes, L. Segal, L.
Bowles, L. [Teller.] Huntingdon, E. Serota, Bs.
Brockway, L. Leatherland, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Brown, L. Lindgren, L. Sorensen, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. McLeavy, L. Stonham, L.
Burden, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Champions, L. Maelor, L. Taylor, L.
Crook, L. Milford, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Fiske, L. Morrison, L. Walston, L.
Foot, L. Moyle, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Fulton, L. Phillips, Bs. Wise, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Raglan, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Garnsworthy, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

3.50 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 5, line 16, at end insert— ("Provided that the entitlement under this subsection to wages shall not apply in respect of any period during which the seaman was employed or was able to obtain suitable em-

of this Bill he can show me personally why the Amendment would have the effect he says it has, and why it would not operate in the way I claim it would operate, I will certainly withdraw it. But in the circumstances I feel obliged, on behalf of the Committee, to press the Amendment.

3.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Then Lordships divided: Contents, 60; Non-Contents, 51.

ployment but unreasonably refused or failed to take up such employment.")

The noble Lord said: This is the last in the series of three Amendments which I feel are required if the Government insist that this archaic provision for wages running on, albeit for only two months, is still to continue. This is a restriction of a kind different from the two that we have considered so far. The only point in the Pearson Report which is relevant is the general one that this whole idea of wages running on is archaic and ought to be abolished. There was some refer-ence to this matter in the Commons; but if what is now proposed is accepted —if wages are to run on—the chief argument for it is the one which the Minister has used; that it is necessary in order to avoid hardship to a seaman arising through negligence by the owner in the case of his previous employment. But we ought not to carry it to the extent (as we shall without this Amendment) of providing a seaman with two lots of wages for one period of employment. It is for that reason that I have tabled this Amendment. I beg to move.


The noble Lord kept on referring to the running on of wages as archaic. Maybe the running on without limit might be so described; but the new provision for running on for 56 days is not yet in force. That can hardly be described as archaic: it is something quite new. I do not see why the fact that a seaman is employed during this period or is offered employment, whether he takes it or not, should relieve his previous employer of the obligation of paying the penalty for not paying the previous wages when they were due. The subsequent employment, or the seaman's attitude to further employment, has surely nothing to do with this matter. There is a normal legal obligation on an employer to pay at the end of the con-tract of employment. In the case of seamen there is some delay on this; but there is a legal entitlement. Why should a seaman be deprived, without penalty on the employer, of his legal entitlement because he was offered other employment which he chose to refuse? We cannot accept this Amendment. It is completely illogical. On those grounds I reject it.


I do not think that that argument takes the Committee very much further. The legal entitlement of the seaman is precisely the matter on which we are now legislating. We want to make sure that that entitlement is fair as between the shipowner and the seaman. To continue this procedure of wages running on without any of the restrictions which I have sought to apply loads the balance of justice, in my view, too far in favour of the seaman.

I will not press this matter now, al-though I reserve the right to return to it at Report stage because I am satisfied, as I am sure are most members of the Committee, that in this modern age the vast majority of shipowners will do all they practically can to ensure that their seamen are not only paid promptly on discharge but rendered a full account of their wages. Therefore the matter of what penalty should apply is not of very great moment, although I am sorry that the Government are losing the opportunity of bringing this particular pro-vision up to date. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 8: Page 5, line 18, after ("due") insert ("to a mistake,")

The noble Lord said: In his speech on Second Reading the noble and learned Lord,, Lord Pearson, raised a point of detail to which this Amendment refers. His point was that as Clause 7(4) is at present drafted it would not be wide enough to relieve the employers from liability to the properly severe penalty in subsection (3) for non-payment of wages if the non-payment was due to a mistake. The noble Lord cited the example of an employer making an innocent, minor mistake in working out the amount due. He said: … if the employers have miscalculated and have paid, say, 10s. less than they ought to pay then they are in default."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24/3/70, col. 1357.] He felt that it was wrong that in such circumstances they should be liable to the heavy penalties in subsection (3). I agree with the noble Lord and, as I said, on Second Reading: … nobody has any intention to penalise a shipowner or the master of a ship for an innocent mistake …"—[col. 1366.]

We had hitherto taken the view that subsection (4) of Clause 7 was adequate to prevent an innocent mistake from being penalised, but in view of the noble Lord's doubts we have looked at it again and now think that we can make the point clearer. This Amendment therefore expressly excludes the application of sub-section (3) if the failure was due to a mistake. I beg to move.


I am glad the noble Lord has moved this Amendment. I suggest that we discuss it with my Amendment (No. 9) which follows and which seeks to secure an improvement of a similar kind; namely, to relieve the employer from a penalty which is due to a small mistake. This is a matter which was gone into in another place, where an Amendment on very much the same lines as my Amendment No. 9 was moved and was withdrawn, after an explanation by the Minister. But on reading through that explanation I cannot feel that the answer given then (it is given at col. 1445 of the Commons OFFICIAL REPORT) was entirely satisfactory. I am not absolutely certain that the wording of my Amendment is the best that can be devised, but I should be grateful if the Minister could indicate whether he agrees that, if an Amendment such as he has moved in the shape of No. 8 is required at line 18 to deal with mistakes as to the nature of a dispute (I imagine something about overtime), then something further is needed in line 20 to deal with an error which is the result of "the wrongful act or default" by those people who had some hand in drawing up the account for paying wages to seamen. I think it should be possible to deal with both matters together. I am not going to press Amendment No. 9, but I should like to hear what the Minis-ter has to say about it with a view to trying to improve it at a later stage.


I had expected the noble Lord to deal a little more fully with Amendment No. 8. I have nothing further to say on Amendment No. 9 which I now beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 20, after ("or") insert ("wilful").—(Lord Sandford.)


I apologise. I had intended to give a reply to the noble Lord before Amendment No. 8 was called. There is some fairly close legal thinking involved in the answer to the noble Lord's Amendment. I am going to read it. I am not going to insist that I understand it, but I think it is interesting.

"Wrongful act or default" is the phrase that the noble Lord wishes to amend to "wrongful act or wilful default". It is a phrase which is found in similar provisions in Section 134(C) of the 1894 Act. So far as I am aware, it has never been claimed that accidental error in calculations, or similar innocent causes, comes within it or that under that section wages would in those circum-stances run on. The phrase "wrongful act or default" is, I am advised, to be construed as a whole, the word "wrongful" applying to both "act" and "default". This phrase is one which, taken as a whole, has a certain amount of legal authority. By virtue of that, it seems to me, at least an element of negligence, or other wrongful element, would have to be imported before a default came within it.

Another criticism of the Amendment is that if the failure to pay were due to an employer's act, one epithet would be applicable; namely, "wrongful". If it were due to a default, a different epithet would be applicable; namely, "wilful" —that is, deliberate. No longer would the epithet "wrongful" apply to both the act and the default. The position would be obscure and would give rise to considerable further argument as to whether the employer's act or omission was a wrongful act or a wilful default; and what, if anything, was the distinction between the two. I hope that that explanation helps the noble Lord. I admit that it is very deep and obscure, but I think it has cogence, and possibly in the light of that he will wish to withdraw his Amendment.


There is one thing which the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has said which I do not quite follow. Not being a lawyer, I am probably wrong about this, but he said that the word "wrongful" is to be construed as acting both on the word "act" and on the word "default". But you are offering an alternative. If it were a wrongful act and default, I could well under-stand his reasoning, but when; you are offered an alternative of a wrongful act or a plain, simple default, I cannot see that the default can be held to be qualified by the word "wrongful". Unfortunately, most of the eminent lawyers who frequent this Chamber do not appear to be present and I should like a second legal opinion. We have had that of the noble Lord's—shall we say?—"tame lawyer", but is there not some independent lawyer in the Committee who would also give an opinion on this matter?


If I may just play for time while the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, who has just joined us, catches his breath, we may be able to have some help from him. In discussing Amendment No. 9 we are discussing something on which a certain amount of legal advice and assistance would be helpful. The answer which the Minister has given me is very much the one which was given in another place and which, although it was a thorough and profound one, still remains, to my lay mind, a little unsatisfactory. That perhaps would not matter too much, were it not for the fact that it is this particular clause which, in many cases, will decide whether very onerous penalties are to be invoked. As I say, I am not proposing to press Amendment No. 9 at this stage, and if I have, by going on for a little, given the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, time to pick up the threads, I shall gladly sit down. I look forward to hearing what he has to say to us about this matter.


I feel I must respond to that kind invitation. I under-stand that we are concerned with Amendment No. 9 and therefore with page 5, line 20 and the words: the wrongful act or default of the persons liable to pay his wages. I agree, of course, that the penalty im-posed is very severe, and I do not suppose that anyone would have thought of it had it not been already there in the Act of 1894. In that Act it was very onerous indeed, because if any part of the wages remained unpaid, the employer's liability to pay wages at the full rate continued for ever unless and until the default was found and put right. This is certainly much better than that, because there is a limitation to 56 days. But I think it has been suggested in another place that, at any rate when a mere mistake is made, that could be brought under the words, and that it would be all right because it would not be a wrongful act or default. It was suggested that in that phrase, which is a very familiar legal phrase, "wrongful act or default", you read the word "wrongful" both with "act" and with "default". I do not think that that is right. You need to put the "wrongful" with the word "act" in order to make it wrongful. In itself " act " is entirely neutral; it may be good or bad, but to make it bad you have to call it "wrongful". It is quite different with "default". A "default" is always a wrongful omission. If you put the word "wrongful" with it you will not add anything to it. A default is some-thing which is wrongful already. I should have thought that if a mistake is made, however innocent it may be, that is a default.

If, being the master coming through the last awkward and difficult stages of a voyage, you add up your sums wrongly, that is a default; and then when the employers who owe, say, £ 15, pay only £ 14 10s., the employers are in default to the extent of the missing 10s. I should have thought that that was so. It may, of course, be arguable the other way, but at any rate I think that is a sufficiently plausible view to make it necessary, or at least desirable, to put in something in order to make clear that that kind of mistake is not being made in this Bill. I should have thought something ought to be done.

I have observed that there is a pro-posed Amendment, which has, perhaps, been made already—Amendment No. 8. If that has already been made, I think it goes a long way to meet this point. Then if the error, the short payment, was due to a mere mistake, something which could reasonably be regarded as a mistake, it has probably been adequately met, and I should not myself think it is necessary to have anything more on this point. The other matter which arises, and which I mentioned during the Second Reading, is that this rather severe penalty is much too severe for a case in which only a small sum remains outstanding. An amount of 56 days' pay is an enormous penalty. But I do not think it would create serious trouble because I should not think it would often arise, unless there were some mere mistake; and I would attach considerable importance to the insertion of these words—which have been inserted, I understand, under Amendment No. 8—if it is due to a mistake.


I am sure that the whole Committee will be most grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, for that enlightenment on this subsection. I will certainly withdraw my Amendment and seek to substitute another, if by so doing I can improve this clause; but I dare say that the alteration secured by the Amendment No. 8will be sufficient. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to. Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Regulations relating to wages and accounts]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 11: Page 6, line 24, leave out ("under a crew agreement")

The noble Lord said: We now move to Clause 9 which concerns the regulations which, under this Bill when enacted, the Board of Trade may be able to make in connection with wages and accounts. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, and his Court of Inquiry, in paragraphs 226 and 227 of their Report, were looking forward to the time when the system of articles of agreement, which are well established but very ancient, could give way to a more up-to-date system of general contract and company agreements. I imagine that everybody who has looked into this matter will agree that this is something which we should all welcome and encourage. But if that is so, then we do not want the regulations that the Board of Trade will be able to make under Clause 9 to be restricted to crew agreements only. This Amendment and Nos. 12 and 13, which are consequential upon it, are designed to enlarge the clause and intro- duce this flexibility. I beg to move.


I am happy to tell your Lordships that this Amendment is not really necessary. There is no need for regulations to authorise deductions from wages payable other than under a crew agreement because there is nothing in the Bill to prohibit it. Clause 8(1), which prohibits unauthorised deductions, is limited to wages due under a crew agreement, as I think the noble Lord said, so Clause 10 is limited similarly. I am advised that there is nothing to pre-vent deductions from seamen's wages payable otherwise than under a crew agreement and no need therefore to authorise deductions.


I am delighted to hear that, and beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Right, or loss of right, to wages in certain circumstances]

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 14: Page 9, line 26, after ("ship") insert ("or its ceasing to be registered in the United Kingdom").

The noble Lord said: This is purely a consequential Amendment. In Clause 15(2) provision is made for a seaman to receive wages during his unemployment in certain circumstances. Among those circumstances is the case where his employment in his ship is terminated before the date contemplated in his agreement by reason of his ship ceasing to be registered in the United Kingdom—for example, where he is discharged under Clause 5. The reference to the ship ceasing to be registered in the United Kingdom was added by an Amendment in another place. A similar reference should have been made consequentially in Clause 15(3)(a) and this omission is now corrected by the present Amendment. I beg to move.


We welcome this Amendment if it gives effect to the point raised by my honourable friend Mr. Hay in another place at col. 209 of the Committee stage Report. It completes the operation which, as the noble Lord says, was left incomplete when partial effect was given to the point raised during Re-port stage in another place.

4.15 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 9, line 29, at end insert— (" () A seaman employed in a ship registered in the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to wages for any period during which he—

  1. (a) unlawfully refuses or neglects to work when required; or
  2. (b) is absent without leave; or
  3. (c) is incapable of performing his duties by reason of an illness or injury which is caused by his wilful act or default.")

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to restore to the Bill a clause which was originally in it when the Bill was first introduced in another place—and, indeed, remained in it during Committee stage. It harks back to paragraphs 380 to 382 of the Pearson Report, in which that Court of Inquiry considered separately each of the matters covered by paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of my Amendment. Having surveyed the matters at issue, the Court of Inquiry recommended that the relevant sections, Sections 159, 160 and 161, of the Merchant Shipping Act, should be carried over into this revised Bill and that in each case the terms should become a standard clause in the articles of agreement; and the Court added that the terms seemed permanent enough to be suitably included in the Act.

The reasons given for removing this clause on Report stage in another place seem to me to be singularly inadequate, and if there are good reasons I shall be happy to hear what they are from the noble Lord. I think the Committee will agree that the matters covered are fundamental matters for life at sea, and there seems to be no reason at all why they should not continue to be in the Bill. These matters are so important that I agree with the Pearson Court of Inquiry that they should be included in the main body of the Bill. I beg to move.


I cannot recommend your Lordships to accept this Amendment. I should make clear that we are not arguing against its substance, but we feel that the matters with which it is concerned should not be dealt with in the Bill itself. It is true that Pearson recommended their inclusion, but the Report makes the point that they could well be included as standardised pro-visions in authorised agreements. In the less paternalistic atmosphere of to-day, when we are getting rid of so much un-necessary detail, I think it would be undesirable to cover in the Bill what are, in effect, detailed questions of contract. I do not think that there is any over-riding reason of public policy why we should do so. These are matters which should be left to industrial negotiations, as they commonly are. I should hope to see these details covered in the crew agreements and general employment agreements in the more normal way in which these matters are dealt with.


That argument might have had some force if it had prevailed at the time of the drafting of the Bill, but it did not prevail then, and when the Bill was first introduced in another place it contained, very properly, following Pearson, the subsection to which my Amendment relates. What the Committee will need to be told, I suggest, if my Amendment is to be with-drawn, is what good reasons have occurred to the Government, since the introduction of this Bill, to cause them to change their minds on this very important matter.


I have just given the good reasons. The fact that this appeared in the original Bill does not mean to say necessarily that in a Bill of 95 clauses deep consideration is given to every single item in it. On a review, and as a result of discussion in another place, it appeared proper that these matters should be dealt with by normal contracts of employment, as they are customarily dealt with in any other industry. There was no real reason why they should be included in the Bill. Indeed, if one were to follow the practice of including matters of this sort in Bills in relation to every industry, we should have an enormous amount of legislation in front of us. It would be foolish to put into a Bill things that can appear in a contract. Those were the reasons given at the time, and I give them again.


Surely the noble Lord will agree that deep consideration should be given to every word that is in a Bill that comes to Parliament. If the Administration are not doing that, then they are negligent in their duty.


Deep consideration was given to it, and the consideration resulted in changes in the original drafting of the Bill.


I really cannot accept that. This Bill comes to us after a period of consultation stretching back to 1962 when, following the merchant seamen's strike of 1960, the previous Administration started the consultations which have led to this proposed revision of the Merchant Shipping Act. It has since been followed by Lord Pearson's Court of Inquiry, which made quite specific and clear recommendations, to the effect that a subsection on these lines should be included in the Bill. The Government did include it in the Bill at first. Then, during the passage of the Bill through the other place, they changed their mind—for reasons which we still have not had from the noble Lord. Un-less he can add to what he has just said, I must ask your Lordships to divide on this Amendment.


I must say that I rather resent being told by the noble Lord, after I have twice stated the reasons for not accepting this Amendment, that I have not given him any reasons. He himself is arguing not on the substance of what he wants to put into the Bill, but on the background of the procedure through which this has come. He has

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 16 to 19 agreed to.

referred to the original draft of the Bill and to the proceedings in another place. None of these matters touches on the substance of the Amendment. I have got up twice and given substantive reasons for not including it. The noble Lord then rises and says that I have not given any reason. I resent that. I have given him the reasons, and if he does not choose to accept them he will have to divide the Committee. But I am not going to be told that I have not given reasons when I have done so—and, indeed, have given cogent reasons.

4.32 p.m.

On Question whether the said Amendment (No. 15) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 42.

Clause 20 [Crew Accommodation]:

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 16: Page 13, line: 43, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Lord said: The widening of subsection 1 (5) of the 1965 Act so that alterations of the particulars relating to registered tonnages of ships are not con-fined to ships registered before the coming into operation of regulations under that Act will cover the provision for alterations of registered tonnage contained in subsection (7) of Clause 20 of the Bill. In these circumstances subsection (7) of Clause 20 is no longer necessary and this Amendment removes it.

I think that may be a little obscure and perhaps I may comment a little further. Clause 20 deals with crew accommodation. The provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act dealing with that subject are repealed by the Bill and the clause empowers the Board of Trade to make regulations dealing with it. Crew accommodation is one of the spaces in a ship the tonnage of which is deducted from gross tonnage in order to ascertain the ship's registered tonnage. Accordingly, in the event of the Board's crew accommodation regulations imposing requirements which will alter the extent of existing crew accommodation space, the result will be to alter the ship's registered tonnage. As matters stand, the provisions of Section 82 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 would inhibit any such alteration. It was there-fore necessary to include in Clause 20 the provisions of subsection (7) in order to counteract this.

However, the new clause which, for tonnage measurement purposes generally, widened Section 1(5) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1965 contains the general provision that tonnage measurement regulations made under this section may make provision for this alteration (notwithstanding Section 82 of the 1894 Act) of the particulars relating to the tonnage of a ship. This general provision therefore makes unnecessary the particular provision made in Clause 20(7), which dealt with only one factor in tonnage measurement where alteration would be needed, that is, crew accommodation space. I hope this is clear, and I beg to move the Amendment.


The Committee will be grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. The only question I should like to raise is whether this is in any sense a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 29, dealing with the same subject, or are they two quite separate matters?


I do not think the two matters are really connected. The latter Amendment is on a different subject.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 21 to 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Expenses of medical treatment, etc., during voyage]:

4.37 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 16, line 29, at end insert: ("Provided that—

  1. (i) the liability of those persons shall be conditional upon the person so employed or his legal personal representatives affording to those persons every facility to prosecute in his name any claim for indemnity or damages or otherwise, and allowing them full discretion in the conduct of any proceedings or in the settlement of any claim, and, to the extent of such conditional liability, surrendering to them all rights in respect of such claim;
  2. (ii) nothing contained in this section shall prejudice any right of recovery of such expenses from a person other than the person so employed.")

The noble Lord said: I believe that we now come to the first matter to which one of my Amendments refers that is not dealt with, so far as I am aware, in Pearson. The matter in question in Clause 26 is, as the Bill indicates that of the payment of expenses for medical treatment for members of the crew during a voyage. If I understand the matter aright, this was hitherto covered by Section 34 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1906: the owners had liability towards meeting the medical expenses of members of their crew who had gone sick on board, or sustained injury resulting from their service on board. That, one might think, was a reasonable state of affairs. The owners have now offered an extension of their liability to cover the bearing of the cost abroad of medical treatment of all members of the crew in respect of any injury and every illness, however caused or contracted, whether on board or ashore.

One might say that this is a heavy liability—almost an unlimited liability— and if the employers accept it I think they are being extremely generous. Although the Pearson Court of Inquiry made no comment about this matter, I think that if this is the position the liability of the owners—which they appear to have accepted —ought to have a certain amount of limitation and restriction such as my Amendment seeks to secure. As members of the Committee will see from the terms of my Amendment, it is designed to enable the shipowners to recover, if they can, some of the costs that might result from this greatly extended liability from those people who may be responsible for an injury, and from whom some damages, or costs, or recompensation, might be due. This is a matter which was raised in another place at the Committee stage but withdrawn following an offer by the Minister to investigate further. It was raised again at the Report stage, but so far nothing further has been done, and in those circumstances I felt obliged to table this Amendment to ascertain the Government's attitude towards this matter.


I really am very astonished at Clause 26 in this Bill. Some-where in the clause there ought to be a proviso that the treatment has been incurred with the consent of the master, or words to that effect. One can well imagine a seaman, perhaps with two or three days to spare in the United States, having himself fitted with a new set of false teeth, and the bill, probably of £50 to £100, going to the shipping line, where-as in Liverpool he would obtain the teeth on the National Health. Examples of this kind can be taken further. I feel certain that the noble Lord ought to put some-thing in the Bill in this connection (unless there is already there something that I have not read) limiting the liability of the owners to treatment and replacement of apparatus, to which the master has given his consent.


I take note of the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hawke. The Amendment now before us does not cover the point he has raised, of course, but I will have it looked at. If necessary, I will bring forward an Amendment on Report stage. At the moment, as I say, it seems to me an important point, and we will have a look at it. I thank the noble Lord.

With regard to the Amendment before us, I am sure that all members of the Committee will agree that it is reason-able that an employer should be assisted by the seaman concerned in recovering, if it is legally possible, the expenses that he has incurred when his employee has been injured by a third party. I am not however persuaded as to the necessity or desirability of having in the Bill a statutory provision to that effect. We have given quite a great deal of thought to this matter, which was thoroughly ventilated in another place. Our conclusion remains that these are matters which are more appropriate to be dealt with in the contract of employment between the employer and the seaman. Such contractual provision could then take account of the many countries and circumstances in which recoveries might have to be made. This is a fairly important point.

I think it should be borne in mind that the provisions referred to in the Amendment are based on clauses commonly found in insurance policies which cover far more than mere medical expenses. On the other hand, in the circumstances envisaged in the Bill, where expenses are incurred by an employer through the wrongful act of a third party, the seaman will normally have a claim for personal injuries which might be much more substantial than the claim for medical expenses. It would be wholly inequitable to provide that, because the employer has had to pay medical expenses, he should be able to conduct or influence the conduct of the seaman's general claim. For example, the seaman might have lost a leg. He might have a claim for thousands of pounds because of some third party's negligence. It would be quite wrong to leave the ship-owner to conduct the claim because he might settle for the medical expenses which he had had to pay, leaving the seaman without recompense for the loss of a limb.

I have also considered the second proviso in the Amendment, which seeks to ensure that nothing in the clause shall prejudice any right of recovery from third parties. I am satisfied that this will not greatly assist the parties concerned. It is important to bear in mind that, for the most part, claims will arise abroad; and this proviso would have little or no effect on the rules applicable in the foreign courts concerned. It is on these grounds that I would ask your Lordships to reject this Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation of why he feels that this Amendment may not be suitable in its present form. The intention behind the Amendment is no more than the one I expressed: to enable the owners to recoup themselves, so far as may be possible, from those parties from whom such recoupment may be due in respect of the medical expenses they have borne on the seaman's behalf. It is certainly not the intention that that action by the shipowners—to recoup themselves on account of their medical expenses—should exhaust, or in any way impair, the right of the seaman to further damages if they are due to him and can be obtained. If these are the reasons for which the Minister wishes to advise the Committee to reject this Amendment, I am happy to withdraw it, but I should like first to hear from the noble Lord why he feels that he can-not himself put down an Amendment which would secure what I am seeking to secure yet avoid the danger which he foresees.


The noble Lord has quoted only one of the reasons why I asked the Committee to reject this Amendment—this matter of claiming damages from a third party. Another reason I gave was that it was our considered opinion that these matters are better included in the contract of employment. It is not just that we feel this is a matter which it is better to keep out of the Bill—which was a reason I gave on a previous Amendment; it is also because the detailed circumstances that will arise around a matter of this kind would make any general provision in the Bill very much less valuable than if account were taken of the circum-stances in the contract of employment. This is another reason. There was a third reason also with regard to the latter part of the Amendment; and for the three reasons given I think this Amendment should be rejected.


If the noble Lord is correct in what he said, that these matters should be included in the con-tract of employment, would that not also apply to Clause 26 itself? It seems that one follows the other. Surely it is the intention that everything should be done to enable the owner to recover as much as he can of the expense which he him-self accepted in relation to injuries to the seaman. Surely one should try to help him recover what is necessary. My noble friend said that the seaman who has been injured can have his claim, as well as the owner having his claim for medical expenses. I really do not follow why one should be in the contract of employment while the other should be in the Bill, because they both go together.


In dealing with matters of this kind one has to remember that in one case one is seeking to protect the rights of individuals who are not always easily able to help themselves; in the other case one is dealing with corporate bodies, such as limited liability companies, corporations and so on, and one cannot compare them in precise terms. A corporate body such as a ship-owning concern has facilities at its disposal which a seaman does not have. These are the grounds on which it is fair to insist that an employer undertakes liability in an Act to cover the medical expenses of his employees when they are overseas, whereas the detailed following through of that course could well be dealt with in the contract of employment. That is why it is not suggested that the whole of this clause should be embodied in the contract of employment. One wants to give this liability to a corporate body such as is constituted by the employer.


May I add a word on this matter, as nothing was said about it in the Report? I feel a little anxiety that we shall put one side of the story into the Bill, and that the other side of the story will have to be put in a con-tract, with the consent of both parties. I should have thought it might be said on the seaman's side, "Well, the Act has said all there is to be said on this subject. What right have you, the employer, to seek to insert in my employment contract some further provisions which the Act has omitted to deal with?" This is a very difficult subject. I fully appreciate the strength of the objections to the Amendment as it stands, and I would not support the Amendment in its present form. But I wonder whether some consideration should be given to the possibility of inserting in this clause of the Bill some reference to this right of the employers to be indemnified in respect of their expenses.

There is of course the difficulty that it would presumably not be possible to bring two actions against the supposed wrongdoer—the person who by his wrongful act, such as a street accident or something of that sort, has inflicted the injury on the employee—because pre-sumably in most foreign countries the employee could bring only one action: there could not be one action by the employer and another by the employee. That is what makes this question diffi-cult. But I venture to suggest that a little further consideration might be given to the question whether something could be put into this clause in order at any rate to keep open the possibility of the employers being able to require some reasonable contractual provision to be inserted in the contract.


I am satisfied that the Amendment as I have tabled it is defective in one important respect, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, has drawn to our attention—as did the Minister himself—and therefore I will certainly withdraw it. Before doing so, I would make the point that I am not convinced by the argument that one part of this bargain can go into the Act and another part can go into the contract of employment. In my view this whole business must be dealt with in the Act; and if the owners are to have their liability extended in this considerable way, and are to be required to assume this very large liability, they must be safe-guarded, if it is at all possible to do it, in the same clause.

I rather hoped that, having heard what has been said, and particularly what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, the Minister himself would be able to give us an undertaking that he will take this away and look at it in order to see what can be done. I shall in any case withdraw this Amendment now, and if the Government are not able to table an Amendment of their own I will see what I can do between this stage and the next. Perhaps the Minister would care to comment.


I have taken note of the somewhat more limited comment made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, which is much more limited than the extent of the Amendment before us now, and I will certainly look at it again in the light of that comment.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 26 agreed to. Clause 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 [Drunkenness, etc., on duty]:

On Question, Whether Clause 28 shall stand part of the Bill?

4.54 p.m.


In moving my Amendment to leave out Clause 28, may I suggest that it might be for the convenience of the Committee if we were to have one debate on this and the following three Amendments, which all deal with the criminal clauses in this Bill.

I welcome this Bill to grant seamen benefits which shore workers have enjoyed as of right but for which seamen have waited for years. I am aware that the totality of the Bill is the result of com-promise between the conflicting interests. Clauses 28, 29, 30 and 31 are totally unacceptable to the seamen's union and completely contrary to the agreement recently reached between the T.U.C. and the Government in regard to industrial relations. The Bill follows closely the suggestions of the Court of Inquiry con-ducted by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, and the seamen are in fundamental disagreement with the legalistic and rigid approach of the Court of Inquiry to the complexity of industtrial relations. In shipboard employment flexibility is essential, and more in the seafaring industry than in any other industry because industrial relations are very much a matter of personal relations on board ship.

These clauses deal with sanctions on men who are employed in ships, and I consider that events over the years have proved beyond doubt that penal legislation is not required in British ships to maintain the highest standard of discipline of any maritime nation in the world. These penal clauses are not required and our seafarers should not be expected to accept penalties which are totally unacceptable to any other worker in this country. What we should have is industrial discipline rather than penal discipline. The National Union of Seamen take a very dim view of these penal clauses. They are seeking the support of the T.U.C. and there is no doubt that if the Bill becomes law the union will use all their power to protect their members against the tremendous powers that are held by the master of a ship.

Surely even at this late stage something could be done to remove the fears of the seafarers. Legal intervention in labour matters has had an unhappy history in this country, reflected recently in the controversy surrounding In Place of Strife. In its Report, the Donovan Commission expressed the view that the general principle for seamen should be, to the extent compatible with their calling, the same rights as employees ashore, and surely Clauses 27, 34 and 36 are more than adequate for the maintenance of discipline on board British vessels.

Seamen are protesting strongly against the concept of criminal sanctions in relation to the regulation of their conditions of employment in the latter half of the twentieth century. These men, having served so long under such sanctions, are aggrieved to note that this part of the Bill is a re-statement, in some cases word for word, of the old nineteenth century Merchant Shipping Act which it seeks to replace. In its fully reasoned recommendations, the Donovan Com-mission found that the use of law in employment merely exacerbated industrial relations, and seamen who have served for many years under such laws endorse this view.

The safety of men and the ships in which they sail has always been given the highest priority by the National Union of Seamen, and they entirely endorse Clause 27. Like the mining industry and fishing industry, where group actions are important in the maintenance of safe working conditions, the use of the criminal law as a possible sanction against offenders is acceptable. It is recognised that a vessel, which is a seaman's place of work, can be absent from this country for a considerable period of time, and agreed breaches of industrial discipline may need to be dealt with immediately. The old Bill invested absolute power in the hands of the master, who could impose penalties for a host of offences. In many cases excessive power, justified solely by "the right to do it", gave vent to considerable bitterness and anger by both those who witnessed it and those who received it. It contributed in no small way to the powerful eruption of protest expressed during the seamen's strike in 1966.

The setting up of shipboard representative committees to deal with com-plaints is an attempt to alleviate many of the injustices inflicted on seamen at sea. I welcome Clause 36 in that it seeks to provide for ships disciplinary committees on which officers and ratings will be represented to deal with disciplinary offences on board. This is a check and counterbalance to masters who abuse their excessive powers.

While agreeing to Clause 27, which covers serious offences, I suggest that for offences which are of a less serious nature the ships' disciplinary committees are empowered to impose warnings or fines, and if necessary they can send a conduct report to the shore-based port industrial committees. These committees are administered by both the unions and the shipowners' representatives to deal with those seamen who have failed to join their vessels or for whom an adverse conduct report has been received from their last ships. They possess power to warn a man as to his future conduct and suspend him from the industry for a given period of time, and in more serious cases they can expel him from the industry. I suggest that penalties of that kind can be more powerful in effect than any court fine suggested in these penalty clauses.

Again, suspension can involve a man in the loss of his right to unemployment benefit. I know of no evidence that has been produced to justify the maintenance of the criminal law approach to 20th century industrial relations being embodied in the Bill. It is no argument that these acts will be little used or implemented. It needs only one or two cases to plague the whole industrial relations in the seafaring industry. Because seamen in the past suffered such threats of statutory penalties for industrial offences, causing no harm, it would be wrong to believe that that view will prevail now. Seamen are much better educated to-day than they were forty or fifty years ago. To trade unions criminal sanctions are repulsive. I thought the lesson had been learned when the Minister of Productivity brought in her White Paper.

Clause 28 deals with drunkenness on duty. This clause imposes fines of up to £50 for being under the influence of drink when on duty. Why should there be a criminal penalty for this industrial offence? Should it constitute a threat to the safety of the vessel or the life on board, then Clause 27 provides ample coverage for such a serious offence. The clause does not distinguish between the seriousness of the offences. For example, a night steward, whose job may just entail cleaning some accommodation, if drunk on duty would be equally liable as would an able seaman under the influence of drink while on look-out duty.

This clause is not necessary. Indeed, the July version of the Bill included two other offences while on duty, and they are not now in the Bill: namely, that of a man who improperly leaves his post, and secondly, that of a man asleep on duty. For those offences I believe the Pearson Committee recommended imprisonment. Protests were made that such clauses went further than the old shipping Acts and were quite contrary to the intent of the new Bill to reform an antiquated piece of legislation. Regard-less of that, nothing prevents men responsible for such acts as those I have quoted from being prosecuted under Clauses 29 and 30. This helps to illustrate a major complaint: that the Bill, like the existing old Act, allows the possibility of punishment under various procedures for the same industrial offence.

As to Clause 29, again there is the use of the criminal law with the blanket coverage of offences. I appreciate the difficulties that arise in defining what constitutes a lawful order. The Pearson Committee, in discussing this subject, suggested that not every act of wilful disobedience should be a criminal one. They suggested that a special feature of aggravation should be present, such as the nature and the circumstances of the order. The clause does not in any way make that clear. And the courts will be concerned solely as to whether the act was wilful and whether it is in compliance with the clause. The clause is restricted to orders affecting the operation of the ship or its equipment. Even to the most limited of imaginations, the provision becomes highly interpretable and totally unnecessary, unless the act constitutes a serious threat to the safety of the ship— for which Clause 27 is expressly designed.

Clause 30 contains a wide and un-qualified range of offences dealing with neglect of duty and disobeying of lawful commands. Moreover, should the offence be committed with other seamen, conspiracy tones are introduced, for which protection given to the shore worker will not necessarily be applicable in this case. Again the grave interpretations of lawful command arises. Quite apart from the heavy fine of £100, this clause follows almost verbatim the 1894 Act, and there is no guarantee that a grave exploration of such wide range in power will not ensue. I would point out that it is not the disobedience to a reasonable lawful command that constitutes a criminal offence, solely that it is a lawful one. It could be argued that by removing the word "persistently" in this clause every conceivable industrial offence could be covered by this clause alone.

Clause 31 deals with absence without leave. Why should this be treated as a criminal offence and not simply as a breach of contract, as for an industrial shore worker? I reject the thinking behind the retention of a criminal penalty for an "absent without leave" situation, which is adequately dealt with by the shore-based disciplinary committee. Where damages are incurred, the employer, as with other shore workers, has the right to pursue a civil action for damages suffered as a direct result of a man's absence without leave. I may be told that no imprisonment is involved under these clauses, only fines. But surely that places seamen squarely in the position that evolved in the argument in regard to In Place of Strife, where also no imprisonment was proposed.

It may be said that, at this point of time in the Bill's formulation, no alteration of this new Merchant Shipping Bill can be made. I have read the statement made in another place by the Under-secretary of State for Employment and Productivity on Third Reading of this Bill. He suggested that unions and employers should get together under the National Maritime Board, and said that if they got agreement the Government would go along with them. Then we had the junior Minister of the Board of Trade, who said that the disciplinary provisions are right and necessary for the present time but that circumstances can change. He also said that if in due time it proved necessary to legislate again on some of these provisions it would be all the easier to do so. The positions adopted by the two Ministers seem to me to be contradictory, and have most certainly shaken the seamen's union. These criminal clauses are to be made Statute Law, before any of the shipowners or the unions have met to see whether agreement can be reached. How can you expect to get agreement if the dice is loaded before you meet?

Let there be no mistake about the future. These clauses will poison industrial relations. The N.U.S. are already preparing their members for the struggle ahead. I have read their circular to their membership: it does not augur well for good industrial relations in the seafaring industry. There is no doubt that Mr. Harold Walker's statement to the House made many Members think that here was a chance for the unions and the employers to get together, and that if they reached agreement the Government would accept it.

Many M.Ps. to whom I have spoken only this week thought that this was a way out of these penal clauses. But this was not so. On March 18, in a letter written to Mr. Huskisson, of the Shipping Federation, six days after the debate, Mr. Goronwy Roberts said: The Government's position thus stated "— he was referring to the penal clauses— is that the disciplinary provisions of Clauses 29, 30, 31 of the Merchant Shipping Act are right and necessary for the present time. Then how can you expect to get agreement? And what is the use of trying, if this is the Government's attitude? Again, what will be the use of meeting to try to reach agreement on the penal clauses when they will then be embodied in the law? The seamen take a very dim view indeed of this. There have been numerous consultations with Ministers involved, and with other committees, when it has been stressed that penal sanctions are unnecessary. Unfortunately, there has been no success in convincing the Government of the seriousness of the seamen's case.

The issue of penal sanctions that I have outlined for normal breaches of industrial discipline where no harm is done, is totally wrong in concept and out of keeping with the traditional approach to industrial relations in this country, and it is totally unacceptable to the Seamen's Union, whose members constitute the major proportion of the men who go to sea. After much thought, I am convinced that the use of Clause 27, which covers the threat to the safety of the vessel and of those who sail in it, adequately covers such serious offences. The shipboard disciplinary committees, strongly sup-ported by the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the industry and by jointly administered port disciplinary committees, are more than adequate to meet the flexibility and contingencies of the seafaring industry.

The Government should look at this clause again, for I am sure that in the years ahead they will regret it when it is too late. Probably it will take many years again to build up good labour relations in this industry. The General Secretary of the Seamen's Union, in a circular to his membership on March 22, four days after the Board of Trade letter to Mr. Huskisson, said: At the present time, active steps have been taken to implement talks with the T.U.C. and the highest level of Government. All officials, as a matter of urgency, must contact as many of the membership as possible and advise them that it is our intention, as a union, to strongly resist the inclusion of these penal clauses in the Bill in any manner which it is felt will assist to this end. Both officials and members must be prepared to give all assistance possible, if and when called upon, and for every effort to be made to convey a sense of unity in our opposition to the penal clauses being included in the new Merchant Shipping Bill. That is the feeling of the Seamen's Union; it is also the feeling of the members. I have been to several meetings in my own home town, and the seamen have expressed themselves forcefully to me. You cannot build up a happy industry in this atmosphere. The Government should take note before it is too late. The Prime Minister told the seamen last week that, if in Government, he would look at this again in three years' time. It has been said that 100 days in politics is a long time. Three years under these penal clauses is an eternity and will bring in its train bad labour relations in one of our most important industries, one essential to the whole welfare of this nation. I beg to move.

5.16 p.m.


I am sure we are all agreed, the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, included, on the need to maintain disci-pline at sea: it is vital to the safety and efficiency of the Merchant Navy. There are many factors which contribute to the maintenance of discipline. The statutory offences, with one of which Clause 28 deals, and the other clauses which we are here debating, are only part of a pattern of measures in which shipboard and shore disciplinary procedures, too, play their part. Acts of misconduct on ships, apparently trivial in themselves, can to-day be of great importance not only to the efficiency of the operation of the ship (which is important enough in itself) but also, eventually, to the safety of the ship. In an oil tanker, or, even worse, in a ship carrying chemicals, a simple order to-day to turn off or to turn on a valve may sound to the individual receiving it a simple enough and perhaps not very important order, but a long chain of events may lead to death at sea as a result of disobeying a simple order of that kind.

Current legislation provides for various terms of imprisonment for nearly all the acts of disobedience otherwise listed in the four clauses that we are considering. Only one of the clauses in this Bill, Clause 27, provides that penalty. The other clauses, Clauses 28, 29, 30 and 31, provide for fines. One result of the removal from the Bill of these four clauses could be that, in the event of wilful disobedience of a lawful command, or of persistent and wilful neglect of duty, it would be quite possible to construe this as affecting the safety of the ship—as in many cases it would. In that event the only clause in this Bill under which the offenders could be dealt with would be Clause 27. If they came before the courts one would have the rather striking result that, whereas my noble friend Lord Blyton wishes to exclude these four clauses because they contain the right of courts to fine, the same offences that would have been dealt with under those four clauses might be driven into the ambit of Clause 27, and the court might see fit to order imprisonment. So that in one sense—and I emphasise "in one sense"—the pro-visions of Clauses 28, 29, 30 and 31 are an amelioration of the rigorous situation which might emerge should they be deleted. I would ask my noble friend to take note of the possible effect of the Amendments which he is now suggesting.

These clauses are all in accordance with the recommendations of the Pear-son Report, which was produced after hearing the views of all the parties. They are consistent with the views of all the parties to those discussions, apart from the National Union of Seamen. It could be that in time, as I said during the Second Reading debate, in the light of the working of the Bill and, very importantly, the experience of the new ships' disciplinary committees (and we really must get experience of the working of these committees, because, as my noble friend knows very well, the working of disciplinary committees in industry, particularly during the last war, was a mixed one; some worked very well and some did not work at all well), there will be changes. But the Government feel that the clauses are right and proper at the present time.

They are not the end of the road, and I can assure the noble Lord—though he appears to be already aware of the fact —and all concerned, that the Government will review them after three years and will consider whether any changes ought to be made; and we are commit-ting ourselves to that. In the meantime, if the industry wish an earlier review, or if there is some need for consultation with the industry about them, we are prepared to consider the matter again. I hope that, with this assurance, my noble friend will not press his Amendment to leave out the clause.

I must add one other thing: it is right that this House should know of the feelings of the National Union of Sea-men in a matter of this sort. In so far as these feelings could be construed as threats, however, the Union would be quite wrong even to imply threats over this House in the process of dealing with legislation. I am not in any sense criticising my noble friend Lord Blyton for giving us the views of the National Union of Seamen, but I thought it fitting to make that comment. I hope that the noble Lord will see fit not to persist in his four Amendments to leave out Clauses 28 to 31.

5.24 p.m.


I should like to speak in support of the Amendment to delete Clause 28. I have gladly followed the Minister into the Lobby this after-noon when there has been a Division, and I hope to do so again if there are any more this evening, but on these clauses I cannot agree with him, and he has not satisfied me by his reply. It seems to me that the seamen have been let down by the Government through these clauses. At the time of the sea-men's strike the Prime Minister promised the complete scrapping of the 76-year-old Act, a thorough re-examination of the whole industry, and a new Bill; and of course, we have had the Pearson Report.

We have now, on the whole, a Bill which I agree is a long way in advance of anything that has gone before, and I know that the seamen are gratified for that. But the hated penal clauses which stood in the old Act have been retained in the present Bill, and these clauses have been the cause of strife and bitter resentment for years and years. It does not need any stretch of imagination to under-stand the frustration, the sense of let-down, that the seamen are now feeling. They feel that they are especially singled out for penal treatment when a few months ago, in the fierce discussion on the White Paper, In Place of Strife, the Prime Minister and the Government agreed with the T.U.C. and the other unions to drop all penal legislation.

I am not convinced by what the noble Lord has said that the seamen have to be treated as a special case, as if they are a special brand of human beings needing special punishments. It is natural that they suspect they are being looked down on as a lower form of worker, one not to be trusted and needing special disciplinary measures. Of course strict discipline must be upheld on a ship at sea, as the noble Viscount, Lord Runciman of Doxford, said on Second Reading: that is absolutely imperative, and all the nations of the world recognise this, just as in the airlines or in the mines there must be absolutely strict discipline.

Clause 27 covers all indiscipline which causes danger, or may cause an accident or the sinking of a ship, and I agree that Clause 27 should be supported because of that. But these other clauses are petty, irksome and, in a way, insulting to seamen—clauses about being drunk, or having drink, and these other matters. I think the Minister should admit that Clause 30 could be interpreted as a danger to trade unionism, and to getting together on trade union matters.

As I have said, the whole question of fines is petty and insulting, and Mr. Hogarth, the General Secretary of the National Union of Seamen, has written in their Journal Unfortunately, the Bill reflects the belief that fines are still a necessary deterrent to indiscipline … There is no evidence that monetary punishment prevents indiscipline, neither is there any evidence that good order on board ship would collapse in its absence … In our view "— the view of the National Union of Sea-men— there is adequate machinery at the disposal of all interested parties with which to deal with industrial indiscipline. Consequently, the authority to fine is both unnecessary and redundant. I urge the Government, therefore, to wipe out these clauses, and not to retain them as a special petty thing that the seamen have to bear over other workers. I oppose these clauses with great vigour, because I believe they can give rise, through irritation and frustration, to strife in the industry—something that none of us wants. If this Amendment is lost, I shall raise the whole question from another angle on the Report stage of this Bill in your Lordships' House.

5.28 p.m.


But for the speech we have just heard from the noble Lord I should have been content to remain silent, but I think it devolves on us, if we differ from speeches which have been made in support of the Amendments, to say that some of us are in favour of the clauses as they stand in the Bill. The noble Lord who has just spoken asked why seamen should be specially separated from workers in ordinary employment. Well, it seems to me that the answer is perfectly simple: these offences by seamen may occur 500 miles from land where hundreds of men, women and children may be in danger of being drowned or burned to death, and it certainly seems to me that a more rigorous standard of discipline is essential in those circumstances, and far more essential than in the case of a shop or office worker, or a man on the production line of a motor car factory.

The noble Lord mentioned that Clause 27 is capable of covering all these offences. He did not mention that Clause 27 refers to cases taken on indictment— that is, the equivalent of our quarter sessions and Assizes—whereas the clauses with which we are now dealing are more or less in the nature of a magistrates' court, and I think that the presence of Clause 27 in the Bill does not in any way render unnecessary the clauses which we are now considering. One thing is certain; seamen to-day are a far more responsible and respectable body of men than they were in the last century. They have a high sense of self-discipline which does not usually need to be enforced or influenced in any way from above. Nevertheless, this safety valve, this last resort of discipline that can be applied immediately, is absolutely essential in the circumstances in which ships put to sea.

My noble friend Lord Blyton and I were both in the First World War. He knows far more about sea-going discipline than I do, because when he was sailing along in a submarine at the bottom of the sea I was a 20-year-old company sergeant-major in France. But I think we both realise that circumstances arise in moments of crisis when disciplinary action must be taken and, to be effective, must be taken immediately. That is the justification for giving the master of the ship power to enforce discipline by imposing punishment in certain cases. The safety of ships is at stake. Danger can come from fire and from water, and this is something which hardly exists in land-borne employment. I should certainly not agree to sanctions of this kind being imposed in the case of ordinary manufacturing or distributive industry at home, but at sea things are different and that is the very hub of the whole argument that confronts us to-day.

Looking at the clauses themselves—and these are not minor offences that are being considered—Clause 28 refers to a man drunk on duty to such an extent that his capacity to carry out his duties is impaired". That would be a terrible state of affairs if the ship were in a crisis. Clause 29 refers to a seaman who wilfully disobeys a lawful command … likely to affect the operation of the ship". Surely one can hardly visualise anything more serious than that in a moment of crisis. Clause 30 covers a seaman who "persistently and wilfully disobeys", and the word "persistently" is coupled there with the word "wilfully". We all know that there are members of the awkward squad who will not obey orders even in moments of crisis, and I think that a master would feel himself completely impotent if he was not able to impose penalties immediately when his authority was disobeyed in that way.

As for absence without leave, which is dealt with in Clause 31, I put that in a somewhat different category, although of course it is coupled with the fact that a man's absence delays the sailing of the ship or forces it to go to sea without him. That can be a serious matter involving very considerable loss to the owners of the ship, but, as I said, I am not so much concerned with Clause 31 as I am with the others, which I think are vital to the efficient operation of ships at sea.

The penalties themselves are reason-able—fines of £50 and £100. There is no clapping men in irons here, and the men will have some right of appeal. Furthermore, we have heard that the disciplinary committees are to be established and this will give the men a voice, as is being given at the moment in the undisciplined state of conduct that is prevailing at some of our universities. Disciplinary committees are being set up there on which the students themselves have representation. I welcome very much the establishment of these ship's disciplinary committees, and I think they will lead to the master of the ship enjoying a greater feeling of confidence than he has had in the past. The one point that worries me is that circum-stances may arise where the lives of hundreds of people are at stake, and in those conditions the master must be able to rely upon his commands being immediately obeyed.

Clause 28 agreed to.

Clauses 29 to 35 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Power to provide for ship's disciplinary committees]:

5.35 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 18, line 39, leave out subsection (1) and insert— ("(1) The Board of Trade may make regulations authorising the setting up in ships of committees of persons employed in the ships, to be known as ship's disciplinary committees, to assist the master or other officer required or authorised to exercise such power in the determination of whether or not a disciplinary offence has been committed.")

The noble Lord said: I suggest that with this Amendment we discuss Amendment No. 19 which is consequential. We now move to the establishment of the disciplinary committees, of which we heard a certain amount in the last debate and which are one of the most important innovations recommended by Pearson. It might be helpful, by way of introducing what I have to say on this Amendment, if I quote verbatim Pearson's recommendation on this matter, which is No. (5)(d) on page 126 of the Report. I ask your Lordships to note the quite different tone of this recommendation from that of the clause which has emerged in the Bill. The Pearson recommendation was: The statutory provisions should not exclude the possibility of an eventual change of system, whereby the shipboard jurisdiction would be exercised by a ship's committee, and the statutory provisions should allow experiments to be made in the meantime with ship's committees exercising the jurisdiction (paragraph 296). I think your Lordships will agree that that recommendation, clear as it is, is tentative, limited, experimental and per-missive.

The whole business of disciplinary committees was fully discussed in the other place, both in Committee and at the Report stage. I should like to take this opportunity of welcoming the use of the Affirmative Resolution procedure, which was introduced at the Report stage, in respect of the Statutory Instrument by which the regulations bringing this change into force will be introduced. I am glad to know that the preliminary work that has been done has resulted in an agreement reached at the National Maritime Board on the form of the disciplinary tribunals that will be set up by way of experiment on board certain selected ships. But I submit that the present clause is too emphatic, too positive and too lacking in the tentative and experimental tone of Pearson.

Everybody concerned with this matter looks forward to experiments with these committees, but it will be necessary to introduce them with great care in a tentative way, to make sure that the experience is carefully evaluated, and I am not satisfied that the terms used in this clause are of the nature required at this stage. I am very willing, and indeed eager, to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has to say in support of the clause, but at this stage I much prefer, in the absence of any further explanation from him, something more on the lines of my Amendment. I beg to move.


I do not feel able to accept this Amendment which, as the noble Lord is aware, was fully discussed in another place. The primary function of a master in relation to disciplinary offences is the imposition of fines. I do not think that we should rule that out of the exercise of this function of ships' disciplinary committees in advance, as the Amendment seeks to do. We should not pre-judge the future of these committees. We do not yet know what form they might take or what functions they should exercise. We wish to consult the industry and to set up carefully controlled experiments. We ought, I think, to look for-ward to these committees taking over the master's functions in respect of fines, at least as a possibility. I do not think that this could derogate from the master's authority, and, indeed, I should expect him normally to be the chairman of the committee. I agree that this is a matter which should be entered into most care-fully. It is a most important part of the Bill and marks a considerable advance in shipboard relations. We are seeking to follow the various possibilities opening out from the Pearson Report, and I believe very strongly that we should keep the situation open and not seek to limit it in the way that this Amendment would.

I am told that there is even now under consideration one experiment which would involve a choice on the part of a crew member who had committed some offence to be dealt with by a committee or, on the other hand, by the master. This Amendment would exclude an experiment like that. I well remember the history of joint consultation during the war. Much of it was a dismal failure because joint consultation so often means, "I will accept any advice which is consistent with my own view". This Amendment, leading to the role of an advisory committee to the master, might have just that result. It might be very damaging to experiments which would help very greatly to solve the problems of shipboard discipline and improve relationships greatly. It is on these grounds that I think it would be folly to accept the Amendment, because it would limit the field of experimentation in the future; and I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw it.


I do not believe that my Amendment has the effect which the noble Lord suggests. That is certainly not the intention behind it. I do not think there is very much between us, but I should be grateful if the noble Lord could give us a slightly more categorical assurance—I am sure that this is in his mind and in the mind of the Board of Trade—that they are not immediately going to take all the powers which Clause 36 as at present drafted would confer upon them; that they are in fact going to do no more, in the first place, than authorise the setting up of disciplinary committees and help the industry to conduct these experiments; and that no owner, master, crew member or shipping line is going right from the beginning to have a disciplinary committee imposed on them against their will. This is what I am a little anxious about, because the clause as drafted, it seems to me, would allow the Board of Trade, subject to the consultations which are pro-vided for under Clause 95(2), to lay down that these disciplinary committees are to be adopted here and now in this or that ship, regardless of the views of the owners, the master and the crew concerned. I am sure that that is not the intention at this stage and that we are only looking for experiments among par-ties who are willing to act as the guinea pigs in this important innovation. Per- haps the Minister could give the Committee an assurance on that point, in which case I should be pleased to with-draw the Amendment, at any rate at this stage.


We believe that the industry is well aware of the potential importance of these committees and is anxious—many parts of it, at any rate; the companies within it, and so on—to collaborate. It is certainly our intention in the operation of this clause to do everything possible to move only with the collaboration of seamen, shipowners and all parties to the formation of these committees. Of course, if we came up against a situation where there was an absolute blockage, which I think is extremely unlikely, we might have to use the powers, and I cannot commit the Government not to use them under this clause; but I am very hopeful that it will not be necessary. I hope that is a sufficient assurance.


It goes a long way, but it is not quite what I asked for or what I believe the Committee would like to have. I should have thought there was no point at all in enacting this clause if eventually the Board of Trade were not going to use the powers they had been given under it. What I think we are anxious about is that initially, during the experimental process which Pearson so clearly recommended, not merely should this be done with the collaboration of masters, shipowners and crews—because it cannot be done at all without their collaboration—but that the collaboration in the initial experiments should be a willing collaboration.


Certainly we should regard it as a bit of a disaster if we did not get that willing collaboration. That is the full intention—and I have discussed this with the officials concerned and everybody else. But no Minister can stand up here and commit himself to the fact that these powers will not be used in the initial stages. I do not think for one moment that they will be used at that stage, and I hope they will not be; but I cannot commit the Government not to do something which an Act gives them power to do. It may be necessary at later stages, after the experiments and if certain forms have worked out properly, to regularise the situation throughout a certain section of the ship-ping industry. I am sure that the noble Lord agrees that that is the purpose of the powers. But I cannot go further than that, and I think that that should be a sufficient assurance. The noble Lord knows our intentions.


That goes so, nearly all the way I was trying to get that I will certainly withdraw the Amendment at this stage. I do not think any-body could possibly object to the Board of Trade's eventually using the powers they have been given under this clause, once the system has been proved by experiments and we are making a wholesale changeover. All I was anxious to do was to secure that the experiments should be tentative, that initially we should start off with permissive regulations, and that the full force of these powers should not be used in the earlier stages. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 36 agreed to.

Clauses 37 to 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Trade disputes involving seamen]:

5.47 p.m.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 20: Page 21, line 20, leave out from ("master") to first ("the") in line 21 and insert ("not less than forty-eight hours' notice of his intention to do so, and shall not be compelled (unless the notice is withdrawn) to go to sea in the forty-eight hours following the giving of such a notice; but such a notice shall be of no effect unless at the time it is given ")

The noble Lord said: Perhaps it would be convenient to the Committee if I spoke to Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 together. The purpose of these Amendments is to make it quite clear, in view of certain doubts which have been ex-pressed, that once a ship is securely moored in the United Kingdom in a safe berth and the seaman has given 48 hours' notice of his intention to withdraw his labour he cannot be compelled to go to sea again within the period of notice. We think it would be quite wrong if a master was able to frustrate the intentions of the clause by putting to sea within the period, taking the seaman with him, and so we have thought it right to make this explicit by these Amendments. I beg to move Amendment No. 20.


I shall be glad to accept this Amendment, but I cannot help commenting on the fact that it is odd such an enormous loophole in this clause should not have been discovered until this late stage. It is extraordinary to me that the Bill could have gone right through all stages in another place with-out this being revealed. It certainly seems that, without the Amendments, it would be possible for a master to do precisely as the noble Lord has suggested and frustrate the reasonable and proper rights of a seaman to strike in a ship which is securely moored within the United Kingdom. So we will certainly accept the Amendments. I think a good deal will hinge on the master's opinion as to whether or not his ship is securely moored, and perhaps the noble Lord will confirm that the master's opinion on that matter must be accepted and that there must be no argument about it, because he is responsible for the ship's safety; and that if, where there is a question of some doubt—perhaps a ship is at anchor lying off somewhere—the master says a ship is not securely moored, then that will invalidate the notice.

I should also like to raise the question of whether, if this clause is amended in this way, it will be possible to allow some sort of latitude or flexibility so that, within the 48 hours, the ship is able to get under way and proceed to another port in the United Kingdom. It seems to me to be not unreasonable that if the owners and the master have a notice of strike served upon them and it is practicable to proceed, for instance, to the final port of discharge, if at that moment they are discharging only part of their cargo, they should be enabled to proceed. There will be a difficulty in defining exactly what is meant by "leaving the United Kingdom". It will not be sufficient to say that that means remaining in territorial waters, because many ships are too big to get from one port to another in the United Kingdom with-out going outside territorial waters.

Before the Committee accept this Amendment—and I am sure that we shall do so on general grounds—I should be grateful if the noble Lord could say a word or two about the two points that I have mentioned. First, will he confirm that if the master gives it as his opinion that his ship is not securely moored, that opinion will not be challenged; and, secondly, will the noble Lord undertake to look into the question of whether it will be possible for the ship to proceed to sea during the 48 hours, on the under-standing that it is proceeding from one port to another in the United Kingdom and that it will be once again securely moored within the 48 hours of the notice.


I will deal with the first question, whether there are secure moorings and who is to be the arbiter of this. In the final analysis, of course, this is a matter to be determined by the court; but I should imagine that a court would be careful before denying the opinion of the master of the ship. The term "master" carries a certain responsibility for decisions of that kind. But, as I say, in the final analysis it is the court that must decide. The other question is much more difficult. I think I shall need time to consider that. If men give notice when the ship is moored and then leave it, the possibility of going to another port does not arise, because unless the master has a proper complement he will be outside the law in proceeding to sea. I think I should like notice of this question. A note that I have just received advises me that it will not be possible to sail with the seaman who has given notice—but, without him, yes. This, however, would give rise to the difficulties that I have already pointed out: unless the master has the proper complement of crew left, he will be in an illegal position in sailing.


If I could deal with the noble Lord's last point first, I should be happier with his assurance that he will look at this point again. It does not strike me as being an impracticable arrangement that, where a 48-hour strike notice is served on the master of a ship berthed in one port in the United Kingdom, that ship should be in a position to proceed to sea under notice to another port in the United Kingdom, pro-vided that that port can be reached in the 48 hours. That seems reasonable.

As to the first point, it may be a matter for the court eventually. But what we are dealing with is what hap- pens within the next 48 hours where a notice to strike is served on the master of a ship which, in his opinion, is not securely moored. If he is correct in that assertion the notice is invalidated under this clause. That might be the subject of a court case subsequently. But the assurance I was seeking was that where the master takes the view that his ship is not securely moored he will be within his rights; that that opinion will not be open to challenge there and then; and that he will be within the law, for the time being, if he proceeds as though the notice were invalidated.


This is a matter which is not in the Bill; but there must be a large number of precedents for sup-porting the fact that the responsibility for the decision as to whether the ship is or is not in a safe position, lies with the master. This must be so. It is open to the crew to dispute it with the master if he tries to get out of the restrictions of a strike notice by saying that the ship is not securely moored. Then it will become a matter for the courts. There must be precedents for the master being the decisive factor in the matter.


Although it may be open to the crew to dispute the matter in due course, it is not open to the crew to dispute the matter there and then?


I should have thought that the noble Lord was correct in that statement, according to the precedents of a ship at sea.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 21 formally.

Amendment moved— Page 21, line 22, leave out from ("berth") to end of line 25.—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 43 to 51 agreed to.

Clause 52 [Inquiry into fitness or con-duct of officer]:

On Question, Whether Clause 52 shall stand part of the Bill?

5.57 p.m.


I should like to say a word or two on Clause 52 which deals with a new power conferred by this Bill on the Board of Trade to withdraw the certificate from an officer whose con-duct is such that an inquiry is to be held into it, or where something is being investigated, and who meanwhile is suspended from duty with his certificate held in suspension. This is a matter which was dealt with by Pearson at paragraph 194. Pearson took the view that this new power was in order and suitable and apt but that there was a difficulty. I quote from paragraph 194 of the Final Report of the Court of Inquiry into certain matters concerning the Shipping Industry: There is however this difficulty that, if an officer has had his certificate suspended but the decision of the Court is in his favour, it can be contended that it must be assumed that he is innocent and fit to discharge his duties and that he has been unjustly deprived of the opportunity of earning his livelihood. We think the only remedy is for the Court to have a discretionary power to order, in a suitable case, that the Board of Trade do indemnify the officer in respect of his loss of earnings. We think the Court should have that power, though the occasions for its exercise are likely to be few. This matter was raised in another place at the Report stage (col. 1485), but it was not decided in the terms that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, recommended, and I think the Committee ought to be given the reasons why such a clear recommendation has not been followed. It is clear from Clause 52(5) that the costs ordered to be paid by such an officer may be recovered from him by the Board of Trade. That is one side. If the outcome of the matter is that he is innocent and fit to carry out his duties, I do not see why it should not be within the discretion of the court, as a matter of right, to award compensation to him for his loss of earnings; because an officer without a certificate is deprived of his employment.


In the first place, let us remember that the number of occasions on which this is likely to happen is extremely few. The noble Lord is aware that those who have been in prison, possibly for years, and are proved later to be innocent receive compensation; but it is ex gratia and not as of right. Were one to legislate in such a manner as to leave it open to those officers who had been deprived of certificates and then found to be innocent to be able to secure damages for the period during which they were not able to be employed, one would have to provide for similar situations in a host of cases where the law occasionally inflicts similar damage on citizens. It would be impossible to initiate such a vast change in principle in a Bill of this sort on what would, in relation to all the other issues to which it would give rise, be a trivial issue—though I agree that it is not trivial to the officer concerned. For these reasons, it has not been found possible to agree with the Pearson Report recommendation that the officer should have a case for damages against the Crown. It would be a completely new precedent.


If the recommendation contained in the Pearson Report had been made by someone with no knowledge whatever of the law, the argument which the Minister has just used might carry some weight with me. But the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, is not a person with no know-ledge of the law. Knowledgeable and eminent as he is in the law, he made that recommendation; and that being so, I should like a better explanation of why the recommendation has not been followed.


I think I ought to say that this is not really a question of law. It is a question of constitutional policy, Government policy, financial policy; and I would not wish to enter into any dispute on a question of this kind. So far as the law is concerned, there is nothing to prevent your Lord-ships from putting a provision to this effect into the Bill. So far as the law is concerned, there is nothing to prevent Her Majesty's Government giving effect to it, but I recognise that there is a question of financial policy. It is a matter of what the further ramifications might be, and for myself, although that was the recommendation contained in the Report, I would not think it right to press it further because I think it is outside my sphere and in the sphere of a different expertise.

Clause 52 agreed to.

Clauses 53 to 61 agreed to.

Clause 62 [Relief and return of seamen left behind, etc.]:

6.3 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 30, line 33, leave out from ("Kingdom") to end of line 34 and insert— ("other than by reason that he has—

  1. (i) been arrested or imprisoned for misconduct; or
  2. (ii) absented himself from the ship without leave at the time appointed for sailing; or
() a person so employed is taken to such a country on being shipwrecked; or").

The noble Lord said: We now move to an entirely new matter, the costs of the relief and return of seamen left behind abroad. This subject was covered by the Pearson Report, and the recommendations relating to it are Nos. (4)(h) and (4)(i), but the particular matter to which my Amendment refers is covered by a part of paragraph 277 which appears at the bottom of page 79 of the Report, to which I will allude again in a moment.

The question as to who should bear the cost of maintaining a seaman who has been left behind abroad, and eventually repatriate him, is a matter containing some complexities, not all of which we need to go into. It was considered fully in the Pearson Committee and debated in another place. The point of my Amendment is to secure that no further charge should be imposed by Statute on British shipowners that is not also borne by their competitors in shipping lines in other countries. That is the point which Pearson makes emphatically at the bottom of page 79, where it stales: It is important that the British shipping industry should not have imposed on it any burden which is not borne by foreign competitors. If Her Majesty's Government wish to adjust their policy in this respect, in my view they must first secure an inter-national agreement to that effect. I believe that no maritime country imposes an obligation on its shipowners, as pro-posed here, to meet the whole cost of maintaining and repatriating seamen left behind as deserters or offenders. In default of an international agreement, I believe that the situation should be safe-guarded in the way which would be secured by my Amendment.

I have a list of the other big maritime countries, and in not a single case are their arrangements such as would be introduced were this clause unamended. Denmark has the same arrangement as we have now, and shipowners are not bound; in Norway the owners are not responsible; in Sweden shipowners are not liable; in Holland a deserter is liable; in Liberia the seaman has to pay; in France the seaman has to pay; in Japan there are no provisions and the effect is that the seaman has to pay; in Germany the consul can instruct a German vessel to carry the seaman home and he is then charged and if found guilty has to reimburse the Republic; in Belgium the charges are recovered from the seaman; in the United States the seaman forfeits the balance of his wages and the consul pays the cost of subsistence and repatriation. So in no other maritime country is this cost borne in the way here proposed. Unless and until the Government can secure an international agreement in terms which would ensure that ship-owners in every country bear the liability it is proposed to put on British ship-owners, I suggest that the position should be safeguarded in terms similar to those proposed in my Amendment. I beg to move.


As a result of the moving of this Amendment the choice before us, in respect of seamen overseas who have been in prison for misconduct or are absent without leave, is placing the liability which arises from their repatriation or their keep on the employer, who would have a possible course of action against the seaman, as in the Bill, or placing the liability on the State and the seaman, as in the Amendment. That is what it boils down to; someone has to get him home, and pay for it, too. The possibility of the State getting money out of the seaman, when it does not hold any of his money, is rather remote.

This is a debatable matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, recognises. I do not see why the industry should not have to bear the responsibility; I do not think that the State should have to do so. Responsibilities of a like kind are incurred by industry. If this were an enormous burden on the shipping industry, we might have had to reconsider the Government's attitude; but I am told that the amount involved is probably of the order of £20,000 to £30,000 a year for the entire industry. The present means of collecting the sums due are extra-ordinarily complex, extremely expensive and relatively ineffective. Were it not for the fact that, as a matter of principle, it is necessary to proceed against people for liabilities of this kind, it would be a totally unremunerative occupation. After considering the matter very care-fully, and recognising that there is some justice in the arguments from the other side, our view is that it is fitting, in all the circumstances, that the industry should be asked to carry these expenses. That is why I am inviting your Lordships to reject the Amendment. At the same time I admit that there is some justice in the plea that has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford.


I think the noble Lord said that a shipowner has some recourse against a seaman. Would the noble Lord tell me exactly where that appears?


I can assure the noble Lord that there is recourse, but I am not quite sure that I can point to it immediately. Only this morning I inquired, to reassure myself. Would the noble Lord be content if I informed him later that there is this recourse?

Aberdare, L. Drumalbyn, L. Mersey, V.
Ailwyn, L. Dundee, E. Milverton, L.
Albemarle, E. Ebbisham, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Allerton, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Atholl, D. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Nunburnholme, L.
Balerno, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Oakshott, L.
Barnby, L. Ferrier, L. Pearson, L.
Beauchamp, E. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Grantchester, L. Rowallan, L.
Bessborough, E. Gridley, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Oswald, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Guest, L. Sandford, L.
Burton, L. Hawke, L. Sempill, Ly.
Carnock, L. Henley, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Conesford, L. Ilford, L. Strathclyde, L.
Crawshaw, L. Inglewood, L. Teviot, L.
Cromartie, E. Jellicoe, E. Thurlow, L.
Daventry, V. Lauderdale, E. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.]
Ardwick, L. Hughes, L. St. Davids, V.
Aylestone, L. Hurcomb, L. Segal, L.
Blyton, L. Leatherland, L. Snow, L.
Bowles, L. Lindgren, L. Stocks, Bs.
Brown, L. Maelor, L. Strabolgi, L.
Burden, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Raglan, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Royle, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


I will take the noble Lord's word.


The Minister admits that there is some force in this argument. I think that there is a great deal of force in it and, if I may say so, not a great deal of force in his counter-argument. It may well be that the sums involved are not very great. If they are not very great in comparison with the resources of the shipping industry, they are not very great in comparison with the resources of the Treasury. But this is a matter of principle. It may be that it is difficult to collect these sums, but every one of the 11 maritime countries whose names I read out have found one way or another of surmounting this difficulty, and not a single one proposes to adopt the unfair, unjust and inequitable proposition now put before us in Clause 62, in flat contradiction to what is recommended by Pearson. In these circumstances, I feel obliged to press this Amendment to a Division.

6.12 p.m.

On Question: Whether the said Amendment (No. 22) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships Divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 26.

Clause 62, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 63 agreed to.

Clause 64 [Recovery of expenses incurred for relief and return, etc.]:

6.22 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 23: Page 32, line 13, leave out from ("employers") to end of line 17 and insert ("If he proves that it was not a term of his employment that they were to be borne by him and that he was not left behind as a result of his own wrongful act or neglect.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 23, which deals with the recovery of expenses incurred for relief and maintenance. The purpose of the Amendment requires hardly any explanation. It is merely to shift the onus of proof on to the shoulders where I am sure it should belong.


I do not think that there are sufficient grounds for amending this clause. Clause 64(1)(a) and (b) deals with the rather unlikely event that, after a seaman who is left behind reports him-self to the ship's agent or to the proper officer and consequently, as we envisage the regulations, the employer's liability to maintain him commences, he is left to look after himself, or told to do so, and incurs expense which under Clause 62 is the proper responsibility of the employer. I must emphasise that it is only when there is such a responsibility that the subsection will operate, and we do not envisage that any such obligation could be incurred before the seaman reports to his employers or their agents. In that case, given that the seaman can show that he has incurred the expenses and that they come within the regulations, I think that prima facie the employer should be liable to repay him.

The employer may have a claim against the seaman under Clause 62 for the expense of discharging his responsibility if there has been a breach of contract or if the terms of employment provide for it. This is the employer's claim, and in any proceedings for recovery by the seaman of his expenses it should, in my view, be for the employer to prove his claim. It would not, in my view, be possible to follow precisely in this context the rules as to burden of proof applicable to breaches of contract of employment which are subject, for instance, to the special rule in Clause 39. On these grounds, I think it unimportant to pass this Amendment. I suggest that it is proper to leave the burden of proof with the employer, and that the Amendment should be rejected.


I am not sure about that, but I shall be happy to look at it between now and the next stage of the Bill. The noble Lord has given a full reply, and I should not like to decide here and now what attitude to take about it. In any case, having secured the point on Clause 62, I do not want to be greedy. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 64 agreed to.

Clauses 65 to 71 agreed to.

Clause 72 [Returns of births and deaths in ships, etc.]:


Amendment No. 24 is a drafting Amendment. The Bill as it stands at present refers to the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland. This is not his correct title, and the Amendment changes it to, the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Scotland".

I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 37, line 7, leave out ("in") and insert ("for").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 25: Page 37, line 14, at end insert ("and the enactments relating to the registration of births and deaths in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, shall have effect as if the marine register were a register of births (other than still-births) or deaths or certified copies of entries in such a register and had been transmitted to the Registrar General in accordance with those enactments.")

The noble Lord said: I think it would be convenient to discuss with this Amendment, Amendment No. 38, to Schedule 3. The purpose of these Amendments is to ensure that entries in the marine register shall still have the same status as entries in the ordinary register of births and deaths kept in, for instance, Somerset House. This is the case at the moment, and it is desirable for the sake of simplicity of administration that it should remain possible, as it is now, to issue certificates from the marine register book on the same terms as ordinary certificates of births and deaths. Such a certificate would be received as evidence, without the need for further proof, of the entry to which it refers; the same fee could also be charged for the issue of a certificate. The Amendment, therefore, merely seeks to correct an omission in the Bill and so restore the status quo. I beg to move

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 72, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 73 to 84 agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 26: After Clause 84, insert the following new clause:

Amendment of Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949

".—(1) For sections 3 and 6 of the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949 there shall be substituted the sections set out in Schedule (sections substituted for sections 3 and 6 of the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949) to this Act.

(2) In section 5(2) of that Act (rules for direction finders) the words ' being ships of sixteen hundred tons gross tonnage or up-wards ' shall be omitted."

The noble Lord said: This Amendment introduces a new clause into the Bill, and I have a great deal of technical comment on it embodied in my notes. I propose, with your Lordships' leave, to deal with Amendments Nos. 26 and 34 together, and to deal with them in what I would call operational terms rather than legal terms, because I think in that way they are simpler to understand. The new clause amends the Safety Convention Act 1949. There are two bodies, one an inter-Governmental maritime consultative organisation, which produced a convention referred to as SOLAS—that is, Saving of Lives at Sea. It is now proposed to amend SOLAS, and amendments are being considered and going through. The Board of Trade's existing powers do not make it possible to initiate the Amendments which are under consideration as part of SOLAS: the new powers involved in this new clause will.

These new proposals arising from the SOLAS Convention amendments will, or may, call for V.H.F. radiotelephone for safety of navigation of foreign ships, and not only of British ships, in United Kingdom waters. Owing to the crowded state of the waters around our shores it has become necessary to consider insisting on this for ships other than our own; also radar on ships over 1,600 tons. Further discussion may lead to ships of over 300 tons having to carry radio direction-finders. The present limit is 1,600 tons. Radio telegraph ships may be required to keep watch on radiotelephone distress frequencies for further safety at sea. Those are the likely SOLAS recommendations.

There is also a series of recommendations for safety arising out of the Holland Martin Report, and whether or not the Government accept them is a matter for consideration; but the Government are likely to accept them. They call for distant-water trawlers of over 140 feet in length to continue to have radiotelephone, and to keep watch on distress frequencies; and those operating beyond radiotelephone range also should carry radiotelegraphy and an operator. They also call for the radiotelephone to become obligatory on near and middle water trawlers. Lastly, a generating device for radiotelephone alarm signals and a loudspeaker watch-keeping receiver may become compulsory in all trawlers. We may wish to implement that whole range of additional safety regulations, and it is highly probable that we shall. At the moment, we do not have the powers to do so. The whole intent of these two Amendments is to provide the Board of Trade with the powers to implement those safety regulations. I beg to move.


I had supposed that this Amendment arose from I.M.C.O., and I certainly agree with the noble Lord that it might be convenient and speed up our proceedings if we discussed his Amendment No. 34 at the same time. It is on that second Amendment that I should like to put a point to him. As he said, the effect of all this will be to require further equipment, and additions to crew, all of which will cost money, in the ships to which all this applies. It therefore seems to me particularly important that the regulations drawn up should be the subject of consultation within the industry.

But, by something which I think can be only a curious quirk, his new Schedule (Amendment No. 34), entitled "Radio Rules", authorises the Board of Trade to make rules. That is reason-able and necessary. But Clause 95(2), which has been put in the Bill to ensure that the regulations which the Board of Trade are going to make under this Act are made only after consultation, contains nothing that would put the making of rules under the same constraint. I should be grateful if the noble Lord could assure the Committee that the making of these radio rules under Amendment No. 34 will be subject to the same consultations as the rest of the regulations, and would let us know what sort of Amendment he proposes to introduce, in due course, to give effect to that. I shall quite under-stand if the noble Lord prefers to answer that point when we reach Amendment No. 34, and leave the matter for the moment while we are discussing Amendment No. 26.


It would be conveni-ent if I answered the noble Lord now. The noble Lord was good enough to give me notice of this point. Unfortunately, I have not taken proper advantage of the notice he gave me because I have been rather busy on this Bill. I am advised that the omission was deliberate; that is to say, it was felt (for reasons which at present I do not entirely understand) that the rules do not require consultation. I should like to go further into this matter. As I stand here, I am concerned to know more about the reasons why it is felt on the part of officials that rules do not require consultation. There may be a good case for this, but I cannot give it to the noble Lord at the moment, and I am not going to attempt to convince him because I am not convinced myself. Per-haps he could leave this matter with me to come back to in due course. I do not think the point arises under the Amendment, but it is relevant to it.


I am sure the Committee will be grateful to the noble Lord, but totally unconvinced that the radio rules do not involve consultation: because, on the face of it, they certainly do, since their implementation will involve additional heavy expenditure by shipowners, so far as I can see. However, I am happy to wait until the next stage to be reassured on this point.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.35 p.m.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 27: After Clause 84, insert the following new clause:

Nautical publications

".—(1) The Board of Trade may make rules specifying such charts, directions or information as appear to the Board necessary or expedient for the safe operation of ships and those rules may require ships registered in the United Kingdom, or such descriptions of ships registered in the United Kingdom as may be specified in the rules, to carry, either at all times or on such voyages as may be specified in the rules, copies of the charts, directions or information so specified.

(2) If a ship goes to sea or attempts to go to sea without carrying copies of the charts, directions or information which it is required to carry by rules under this section the master or owner shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100."

The noble Lord said: This Amendment seeks to enable the Board of Trade to require ships to carry specified charts, directions or other information for the purposes of safe navigation. Oddly, we have no powers at present to do so. The Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO), an agency of the United Nations, has recently put forward proposals for amendment of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention 1960, to which the United Kingdom adheres, calling for a requirement in these terms. We would wish to be able to implement this Amendment in due course, and the necessary powers would be given by this, Amendment of the Bill which I commend to your Lordships. I beg to move.


I would make much the same remarks on this Amendment which I used before. We want to be assured that the rules—which is the term used in this new clause—are subject to the same kind of consultation as before.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 85 agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 28: After Clause 85, insert the following new clause:

Increase of penalty for sailing while ship under detention

" . In section 692(1) of the Merchant Ship-ping Act 1894 (enforcing detention of ship) for the words 'one hundred pounds' there shall be substituted the words ' two hundred pounds'."

The noble Lord said: In Clause 45 of the Bill, which prohibits ships going to sea undermanned, the maximum penalty provided is a fine of £200 and, in addition, there is provision for the ship to be detained. However, Section 692(1) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, which deals with the enforcement of such detention, carries a maximum penalty of only £100 if the ship puts to sea in defiance of a detention notice or order. It would, I suggest, be inconsistent to have a maximum fine for contravention of detention which was lower than the maximum fine for going to sea undermanned. The greater offence would be punishable by the lesser penalty. I therefore propose that the maximum penalty under Section 692(1) shall be increased from £100 to £200.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 86 and 87 agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 29: After Clause 87, insert the following new clause:

Tonnage measurement and certificates

".For subsections (5) and (6) of section 1 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1965 (tonnage regulations) there shall be substituted the following subsections— '(5) Regulations under this section may make provision for the alteration (not-withstanding section 82 of the principal Act) of the particulars relating to the registered tonnage of a ship. (6) Regulations under this section may pro-vide for the issue by the Board of Trade or by persons appointed by such organisations as may be authorised in that behalf by the Board of Trade of certificates of the registered tonnage of any ship or of the tonnage which is to be taken for any purpose specified in the regulations as the tonnage of a ship not registered in the United Kingdom, and for the cancellation and delivery up of such certificates in such circumstances as may be prescribed by the regulations. (6A) Regulations under this section requiring the delivery up of any certificate may make a failure to comply with the requirement an offence punishable on summary conviction with a fine not exceeding £100.'

The noble Lord said: Most of the relevant existing statutory powers about the measurement of ships' tonnage are contained in the Merchant Shipping Act 1965, but they are not sufficient to enable Her Majesty's Government to comply with certain provisions of the 1969 Convention. It is desirable that the Government should be able to ratify this Convention, which is the result of many years' work on the part of maritime countries to agree on a simplified system of tonnage measurement to replace the five different and complicated systems at present in use. The proposal to widen Section 1(6) of the 1965 Act by this new clause will enable the Board of Trade to authorise other organisations to appoint persons to issue tonnage certificates, which the Board cannot do under its existing powers.

It will also enable the Board to provide in regulations for the cancellation and surrender of certificates. This becomes necessary under Article 10(1) of the Convention if alterations to a ship result in an increase in its tonnage. Power to alter the particulars of a ship's registered tonnage when the need arises is also necessary. The Board has a limited power to do this under Section 1(5) of the 1965 Act, but it is confined to ships registered before regulations made under that Act came into force, and the pro-posed widening of Section 1(5) will remove this restriction. The new clause will enable regulations to require that cancelled certificates shall be delivered up, and consequently it is necessary to provide for a penalty to be prescribed for non-compliance with this requirement. The new subsection (6A) contains this power. It is not the Government's intention to ratify the Convention until the shipping industry and all other interested bodies have been consulted. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Ships registered in independent Commonwealth countries]:

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 30: Page 42. line 21, leave out from ("specified ") to first ("and ") in line 22.

The noble Lord said: I hope it will be convenient if I take Amendment No. 31 with Amendment No. 30. The intention of these Amendments is to provide that the power given in the clause for certain provisions of the Bill to be applied by Order-in-Council to ships registered in Commonwealth countries should not be restricted to when these ships are within the United Kingdom. The clause, if amended, would in fact keep the position very much as it is now under the present Acts. It is not intended that the powers conferred by the clause would be used in a very wide fashion, and certainly not without the agreement of the Commonwealth country concerned.

One example of the sort of situation which could arise is when, say, a Commonwealth registered ship was engaged in United Kingdom coastal trade and an act was committed on the high seas which would be an offence under Clause 27 of misconduct endangering the ship. It would not be possible without this Amendment to prosecute the offender (because the ship was not registered in the United Kingdom) and there may not be a comparable offence punishable under the legislation of the country of registration. A Commonwealth registered ship is still a "British ship" and we do not think that it would be a desirable state of affairs for a British ship to be thus outside the scope of the law if it is trading between or from ports in the United Kingdom. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 31.

Amendment moved— Page 42, line 22, leave out ("then").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 90 agreed to.

Clause 91 [Fishing vessels]:

6.45 p.m.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 43, line 26, at end insert— (" () Nothing in section 11 of this Act shall affect the operation of Part II of the Administration of Justice Act 1970 in relation to wages due to a person employed in a fishing vessel; and the provisions of the Magistrates' Courts Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 and the Judgments (Enforcement) Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 relating to the attachment of wages shall apply in relation to such wages as they apply in relation to other wages.").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is related to some later consequential Amendments to Schedules 3 and 4, and Amendments Nos. 39 and 44, and it is designed to prevent Clause 11 from affecting the application of Part II of the Administration of Justice Bill, which has already been before your Lordships' House, to fishermen's wages. It is in essence a consequential Amendment to the provisions of that Bill.

Clause 11(1), which substantially re-enacts Section 163(1) of the 1895 Act, provides that the wages of a seaman employed in a United Kingdom registered ship shall not be subject to attachment or arrestment; that is to say, a sea-man's wages shall not be subject to a form of court proceedings known as "attachment" to seize his wages, et cetera. But we must now take into account the provisions of the Administration of Justice Bill, Part II of which makes new provisions in relation to the enforcement of civil debts generally. It abolishes the penalty of imprisonment for defaulting debtors and substitutes a power in the courts to make attachment of earnings orders to secure the payment of a civil debt.

These provisions will apply to fisher-men under the new procedure in that Bill, as hitherto they have applied in a broadly similar manner in relation to maintenance orders under Part II of the Maintenance Orders Act 1958. But, by virtue of Clause 22(2)(e), the exclusion of merchant seamen's wages will continue to be preserved. As a consequence of these provisions of the Administration of Justice Bill, Amendments to our present Bill are necessary to prevent any conflict with Clause 11. This Amendment provides that nothing in Clause 11 shall affect the operation of Part II of the Administration of Justice Bill in relation to a fisherman's wages. It also makes consequential applications in relation to certain Northern Ireland Statutes. I am sorry to burden noble Lords with such long and complex clauses. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 91, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 92 agreed to.

Clause 93 [Interpretation]:


I will try to deal with Amendment No. 33 rapidly. The term "left behind" is used in the Bill. This would normally have the connotation that a ship had left the port where a seaman was. But he can be, so to speak, left behind when the ship is still in the port where he is if the ship is wrecked or if its engines have collapsed, and so on. The purpose of this Amendment is to make it clear that he can be "left behind" without the ship's having left the port. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 44, line 36, at end insert— (" () For the purposes of this Act a sea-man discharged from a ship in any country and left there shall be deemed to be left behind in that country notwithstanding that the ship also remains there.")—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 93, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 34.

Amendment moved—

Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—


Radio rules

3.—(1) The Board of Trade may make rules (in this Act called "radio rules ") requiring ships to which this section applies to be provided with radio equipment of such a nature (but not including a radio navigational aid) as may be prescribed by the rules and to maintain such a radio service and to carry such number of radio officers or operators, of such grades and possessing such qualifications, as may be so prescribed; and the rules may contain provisions for preventing so far as practicable electrical interference by other apparatus on board with the equipment pro-vided under the rules.

(2) This section applies to—

  1. (a) sea-going ships registered in the United Kingdom;
  2. (b) other sea-going ships while they are in the United Kingdom or the territorial waters thereof.

(3) Radio rules shall include such requirements as appear to the Board of Trade to implement the provisions of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea signed in London on 17th June. 1960 as from time to time amended, so far as those provisions relate to radio telegraphy and radio telephony.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of the preceding provisions of this section, radio rules may—

  1. (a) prescribe the duties of radio officers and operators, including the duty of keeping a radio log-book;
  2. (b) apply to any radio log-book required to be kept under the rules any of the pro-visions of any regulations with respect to official log-books made under section 68 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1970.

(5) If any radio officer or operator contravenes any rules made in pursuance of sub-section (4)(a) of this section, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £10; and if radio rules are contravened in any other respect in relation to any ship, the owner or master of the ship shall be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding £500. or on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.

(6) A surveyor of ships may inspect any ship for the purpose of seeing that she is properly provided with radio equipment and radio officers or operators in conformity with radio rules and for that purpose shall have all the powers of a Board of Trade inspector under the Merchant Shipping Acts.

(7) If a ship to which this section applies is not provided with radio equipment or radio officers or operators in conformity with radio rules the ship, if in the United Kingdom, may be detained.

Radio navigational aids

6.—(1) The Board of Trade may make rules—

  1. (a) requiring ships to which this section applies to be provided with such radio navigational aids, other than direction-finders, as may be specified in the rules and pre-scribing requirements which such radio navigational aids are to comply with;
  2. (b) prescribing requirements which radio navigational aids, other than direction-finders and other than such as are provided in pursuance of rules made under the preceding paragraph, are to comply with when carried in ships to which this section applies;
  3. (c) prescribing requirements which apparatus designed for the purpose of transmitting or reflecting signals to or from radio navigational aids is to comply with if it is apparatus in the United Kingdom or apparatus off the shores of the United Kingdom but maintained from the United Kingdom;
and the requirements prescribed under paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection may include requirements relating to the position and method of fitting of the radio navigational aids.

(2) This section applies to—

  1. (a) ships registered in the United Kingdom;
  2. (b) other ships while they are within any port in the United Kingdom.

(3) If a ship to which this section applies proceeds, or attempts to proceed, to sea without carrying such navigational aids as it is required to carry by rules made under subsection (1) of this section or carrying radio navigational aids not complying with rules made under that subsection, the owner or master of the ship shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.

(4) If any person establishes or operates any such apparatus as is mentioned in subsection (l)(c) of this section and the apparatus does not comply with rules made there under, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fire not exceeding £100."—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 35: Page 49, leave out lines 8 to 13.

The noble Lord said: I am sorry to burden your Lordships with what is to follow but the statement had better go on the Record. This Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 34, the new Schedule before Schedule No. 1 which we have just passed, the effect of which is to replace Section 3 of the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949 by a new section conferring on the Board of Trade extended powers to make radio rules. The present Section 3 of the Act contains provision in sub-section (5)(b) relating to radio log books. Clause 68 of the Bill makes provisions relating to official log books and empowers the Board to make regulations regarding them. This necessitated appropriate amendments to Section 3(5)(b). which have been effected by paragraph 10 of this Schedule 2. However, these amendments in turn have been overtaken and made unnecessary by the provisions of subsection (4)(b) of the new Section 3. Paragraph 10 is therefore to be omitted. I beg to move.


That explanation certainly sounds convincing, but I should like to reserve my position until I have had an opportunity of looking at it rather carefully, as it relates to the other matters which I raised previously.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 36: Page 49, line 13, at end insert:

(" The Merchant Shipping Act 1964

. In section 10(2) of the Merchant Ship-ping Act 1964 for the words "(7) and (8)" there shall be substituted the words "(6) and (7) ".")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 26. It is a reference to the numbering of sections. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 37: Page 49, line 32, at end insert:

(" The Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970

14. In section 414(1) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 the word ' or' shall be added at the end of paragraph (a), and paragraph (c) and the word 'or' pre-ceding it shall be omitted ".)

The noble Lord said: This is a minor and consequential Amendment to Section 414(1) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970. That Act, which is a Consolidation Act, provides in Section 414(1) that, in effect, interest up to £15 on deposits with the National Savings Bank and with a seamen's savings bank shall be free of income tax. Sections 148 to 153 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, which relate to seamen's savings banks, are being repealed by the Bill. The references in the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 to these banks therefore become unnecessary, and they are consequently being deleted. Provision is made in paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 for the repayment of deposits and for the transfer of unrepaid deposits into the National Savings Bank. Interest up to £15 will continue, as previously, to be tax-free, so that the depositor's tax position will remain unaffected. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Savings and Transitional Provisions]:

LORD BROWN: I beg to move Amendment No. 38.

Amendment moved—

Page 50, line 8, at end insert— (" . The repeal by this Act of section 254 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 shall not affect the operation of that section in relation to any return made under it and any marine register book kept under that section shall be treated as part of a marine register kept under section 72 of this Act.").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BROWN: I beg to move Amendment No. 39.

Amendment moved— Page 50, line 11, leave out paragraph 5.— (Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Enactments Repealed]


Before I call the next Amendment there is a question in regard to the printing. Noble Lords will notice that in Amendment No. 40 reference is made to page 51, line 36, but it should be "line 35". Also, instead of paragraph "(c)" it should read "(e)".

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 40: Page 51, line 35, leave out ("paragraphs (a) and (e)") and insert ("paragraph (a), in paragraph (b) the words from "and the remuneration" to the end of the paragraph, and paragraph (e)").

The noble Lord said: This is a minor Amendment to correct an omission from the Repeals Schedule. We inadvertently omitted to repeal a reference to the remuneration of medical inspectors in paragraph (b) of Section 677 of the 1894 Act. This reference is no longer needed, as any such inspections will be undertaken by the officers of the Board of Trade. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I only rise to say that unless the Minister has something of great note and weight that he would like to mention in regard to any of his succeeding Amendments I should think the Committee would be happy to have them moved en bloc.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 41 to 46.

Amendments moved—

Page 52, line 27, after ("(c)") insert ("the word "or" preceding subsection (1)(b)").

Page 52, line 34, at end insert—

"24 & 25 Geo. 5. c. 18. The Illegal Trawling (Scotland Act 1934. In section 6 the words 'mercantile marine office'.")

Page 53, line 6, column 3, at end insert— ("In section 5(2) the words "being ships of sixteen hundred tons gross tonnage or upwards".")

Page 53, leave out lines 22 to 26.

Page 53, line 28, at end insert—

("1964 c.47 The Merchant Shipping Act 1964. Section 11."

Page 54, line 18, at end insert—

("1970 c. 10. The Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970. In section 414, in subsection (1), paragraph (c) and word 'or' preceding that paragraph, and in subsection (7) the definition of 'seamen's savings bank'.")
—(Lord Brown

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported, with Amendments.

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