HL Deb 23 April 1970 vol 309 cc890-923

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received. —(Lord Brown.)

Clause 7 [Payment of seamen's wages]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 4, line 39, leave out subsection (2) and insert — ("(2) If the amount payable to a seaman under subsection (1) of this section exceeds £50 or such other amount as may be pre-scribed by regulations made under section 9 of this Act and it is not practicable to pay the whole of it at the time of discharge, not less than £50 or, as the case may be, the amount so prescribed shall be paid to him at that time and the balance within 7 days of that time.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I suggest that we might bring Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5, which are con-sequential, into the discussion. At the same time, I should like to repeat the assurance which I gave the noble Lord, Lord Brown, in Committee: that I am unlikely to resist his Amendment No. 2, also to this clause, if he backs it with a rather fuller explanation as to its purpose than that which he gave us at the previous stage.

My Lords, with these four Amendments, as with so much else in the Amendments that we have moved on this Bill, we are inviting the noble Lord, Lord Brown, to put his hand into Lord Pearson's and to step bravely from the 1890s into the 1970s. The first five Amendments deal with the payment of wages to the seaman, and it might help, I think, if I began by reminding your Lordships of what Pearson recommended in this respect. Recommendation No. (7)(a) says: The new Act should authorise payment of wages and allotments by cheque or credit transfer or otherwise into a bank account; and it is desirable that payments should be so made… Her Majesty's Government have not done that, but they can do it, and I trust they will do it, in the regulations pro-vided for by Clause 9. The second re-commendation that applies here is: The employers should have an obligation to deliver to the seaman an account of his wages… My Lords, we are agreed about that in principle, but there is a remaining dispute about how and when that should be done. The third recommendation from Pearson was: There should be a penalty for delay in the payment of wages, and for this purpose a high rate of interest would be sufficient. Her Majesty's Government have not accepted that, and we have failed to convince them of the error of their ways; but I will say no more about that now.

Pearson made a very thorough study of this matter, devoting no less than 20 paragraphs of his Report to it, all aimed to bring the conduct of these affairs, the accounts and the payments of wages, from the days of 1894 into modern practice —practice when accounts can be handled on machines and when there are plenty of inexpensive and sophisticated devices, like bank accounts, cheque books and credit transfers, available to owners, officers, seamen and masters alike, all avoiding the tiresome necessity to handle large amounts of money at inconvenient moments. But all these facilities and all this assistance is available only ashore, apart from on the largest liners. They are not available afloat, and it is not economic to provide them afloat. Therefore, if a seaman is to be paid in full when he leaves a ship shortly after berthing at home, the final calculations may fall to be done by the master in a small or medium-sized ship, and they fall to him at the precise moment when he is bringing his ship home into some of the most congested sea lanes in the world, and often into some of the most unpredictable weather. In these circumstances —and this is all fully set out in paragraph 360 of the Pearson Report —prompt payment of the whole crew, with precise amounts due to them shown on a full account, is not always feasible, though of course this is agreed and regarded by all parties as the right, normal and proper arrangement to be aimed at.

My Lords, with the severe penalties which are now written into or remaining in the Bill against owners who do not achieve this objective, failures will indeed be very few and far between, and they will occur only when the needs of good navigation and safety at sea make it quite imperative to give accurate pilotage priority over accurate book-keeping. I submit that in these extreme and rare circumstances it is not unreasonable for the owners to have to pay to the crew in respect of wages £50 in cash, and to pre-sent the full account and any balance due within seven days, when the master has had the time and/or the assistance from his office ashore to get all the complex details of a final account checked, correct and up to date.

The maximum first instalment to be paid in cash in these exceptional circum-stances was proposed by Pearson to be £20. That was raised in the Commons. first to £30 at the Committee stage and then to £50. I am now proposing, in my Amendment No. 5, to meet a point made in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Brown [Col. 151]. I am proposing to make even this amount flexible by regulation. We have accepted the Government's contention that the old, crude and very heavy penalty of wages running on should be continued, and we have not pressed any of the other very reasonable safeguards which we had devised. In these circumstances, it is, I hope the House will agree, not unreasonable to spare the master, when he is obliged to give prior attention to safe navigation on returning home, the distraction of producing a preliminary account, which will very likely not be correct, and to give him and his company ashore, in those circumstances and only in those circumstances, seven days' grace —not a long time, as the noble Lord, Lord Brown, indicated in Committee at column 152, but just seven days' grace —to get the final accounts entirely accurate before the presentation of each individual account to each individual member of the crew. I beg to move the first Amendment.

5.6 p.m.


My Lords, may I make just one or two preliminary comments before I get down to some arguments about the substance of the Amendment. I accept that the arguments used by the noble Lord have a great deal of force. The idea of getting modern machinery to work on wages is a very powerful argument indeed, and if it can be achieved it is a good thing to achieve. I would back the Amendment if that were all there were to it, but the noble Lord has referred to the idea of getting from the 1890s to the 1970s. To the seaman concerned, it might not seem like progress. Before I get on to the sub-stance of the Amendment, let me make one other point. Nothing in the Bill will prevent payment by cheque, money order, credit transfer or other modern means. I know that this does not meet the noble Lord's point, but I just want to make that point quite clear: there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that, if it can be arranged under the terms of the Bill as it stands now. There is one further point. A good deal of reference has been made to the burden on the master at this critical point, when he is approaching harbour and all the rest of it; but we really must not stress that too much. He has officers on his ship, and he has others. They are not all morons. He can delegate a great deal of this work of preparing wages if he chooses to do so and if he gets these men familiar with the fairly complex business of calculating the wages. I do not see why that should not be done if the burden is so very heavy at that particular time.

Turning to the Amendment itself, I would point out that it would embrace two separate matters. First, if it was carried it would mean that a seaman would often get, on discharge, £50, or some amount specified by Board of Trade regulation, and the balance in seven days' time; whereas the clause as it stands would often give a seaman nearly all, or all, of his due wages on discharge, with a possible small balance later on some occasions. There is no need for me to comment on which is most in the interests of seamen. The Amendment would seem to be based on the concept that an account need not be delivered for seven days after discharge, and the amount payable calculated at any time within that period. Although the principle payment in full on discharge is retained, there would be no means of knowing what it was until the account was prepared. In practice, the minimum amount would be paid and the seaman need not in general receive the rest of his wages for seven days. I think that that is implied by the emphasis on modern accounting methods. That is what is likely to happen. I appreciate the desirability of these modern methods; but I do not think that they should be adopted at the expense of the seamen.

The Amendment would also enable the Board to make regulations prescribing some amount other than £50, instead of having the reference to one-quarter as an alternative. I am not unsympathetic to the proposal that it should be possible to amend the minimum amount by regulations, but I think that the necessary flexibility is already covered by the provision for one-quarter of the amount to be paid as a minimum. Of course, if there is to be no prior calculation, as in other Amendments to be moved later by the noble Lord, one-quarter cannot be calculated. I do not accept that the seaman should not know on discharge what is due to him. Seamen prefer to have a guarantee in terms of one-quarter.

Finally, it seems to me that it goes against the principle of fair employment that a man should be denied until seven days after his discharge knowledge of the total of the wages he has earned. It is conceivable that within seven days he will want to sign on to another ship, or will move to a different port in the country to sign on there. He will have to make arrangements for his family, and he will want to know what money is due to him. In many cases, if this Amendment is passed he will not know for seven days. I think this would be a retrograde step for the seaman, and though 1 admit that it would be an advance for the employer, that is not sufficient, on balance, to cause me to accept this Amendment; it is too detrimental to the seamen. I hope that I have persuaded your Lordships that on balance of argument this Amendment should not be accepted.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for admitting the force of these arguments, and I will, if I may, seek to show that his arguments, as I understand them, rested on an omission in his reading of the Amendment. At one point he talked about it being often the case that seamen would not be paid the full amount due to them, or about their account not being presented when they leave the ship; and he said that there would not often be a precise calculation made of what is due to them. This is not the case. My Amendment is designed to meet the circumstances when it is only the master who can prepare the accounts. I agree with the noble Lord that if a ship is large enough there will be officers, such as pursers, who will prepare the accounts to date as the ship comes to harbour, and that none of these problems then arises. My concern is with cases where, if accounts are to be done, it is only the master who can do them. In those circumstances, when he is faced with difficult pilotage and bad weather, it will not be practicable for him to prepare these accounts. My Amendment specifically includes the words, "If… it is not practicable "

With these penalties hanging over them, the owners are not going to incur the

extra expense of having to meet the penal-ties by not paying the full amount due if they can possibly do it. We are now legislating for a very rare occurrence; but, as the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, pointed out, it will not be right to place upon the owner an absolutely straight obligation to prepare full and accurate accounts for every member of the crew in all circumstances. Therefore we need to have a subsection (2) which meets these exceptional circumstances. I believe that the proposals contained in my Amendment are the straightforward and equitable way of doing this, and I am afraid that I have no alternative but to press my Amendment.


Before the Minister rejects it outright, I hope that he will take it back and consult with his advisers on these words, "If… it is not practicable". It seems to me that they represent a complete and utter let-out from the cases that the Minister has been putting forward. One can well imagine that the National Union of Seamen are going to fight very hard indeed any case which cannot easily be proved to be " not practicable". I feel that my noble friend really has common sense and practice on his side against the theory of the noble Lord opposite.


I am not allowed to speak twice; but I can say that I Have already fully consulted with the officials, the legal authorities and the Board on this point.

5.14 p.m.

On Question, Whether Amendment No. 1 shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 47.

Aberdare, L Berkeley, Bs. Daventry, V.
Ailwyn, L. Bessborough, E. Denham, L.[Teller.]
Airedale, L. Bethell, L. Derwent, L.
Aldenham, L. Brecon, L. Drumalbyn, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Dudley, E.
Allerton, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Dundee, E.
Alport, L. Brougham and Vaux, L. Elgin and Kincardine, E.
Ampthill, L. Byers, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs.
Amulree, L. Carnock, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs.
Atholl, D. Cork and Orrery, E. Falkland, V.
Auckland, L. Cottesloe, L. Ferrier, L.
Barnby, L. Craigavon, V. Forescue, E.
Belstead, L. Craigmyle, L. Goschen, V.[Teller.]
Gray, L. Mancroft, L. Sandford, L.
Grenfell, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Sandys, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Milverton, L. Sempill, Ly.
Hanworth, V. Molson, L. Somers, L.
Hawke, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V. Stonehaven, V.
Hylton-Foster, Bs. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Strathcarron, L.
Ilford, L. Napier and Ettrick, L. Strathclyde, L.
Inglewood, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Teviot, L.
Killearn, L. Polwarth, L. Thurlow, L.
Kilmany, L. Rankeillour, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Lauderdale. E. Robertson of Oakridge, L. Vivian, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Runciman of Doxford, V. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
McCorquodale of Newton, L. St. Aldwyn, E. Wolverton, L.
Archibald, L. Jacques, L. St. Davids, V.
Ardwick, L. Leatherland, L. Segal, L.
Beswick, L. Lindgren, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Bowles, L. [Teller.] Llewelyn-Davies, L. Sorensen, L.
Brockway, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.[Teller] Southwark, L.Bp.
Brown, L. Stocks, Bs.
Citrine, L. Longford, E. Strabolgi, L.
Collison, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Morrison, L. Walston, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Moyle, L. Willis, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Nunburnholme, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Phillips, Bs. Winterbottom, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Plummer, Bs. Wise, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Raglan, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Hilton of Upton, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Hughes, L. Sainsbury, L. Younger of Leckie, V.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.26 p.m.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 2: Page 5, line 9, leave out ("within seven days of his discharge") and insert ("at the time at which it is so payable ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, you will recall the discussion in Committee on Amendment No. 6 which resulted in subsection (3) of Clause 7 being amended to its present form. In our previous discussion I suggested that the Amendment would have the effect of enabling the shipowner to fail to pay the seaman anything at all on discharge, and without penalty. No-one wished that situation to be created but I was unable to show your Lordships why this was so at the time. Now that we have the text in its amended form it is easier to show the effect. I therefore introduce this Amendment, as I assume that your Lordships would not wish to proceed with the clause in its present form in these circumstances.

Subsection (3) as amended at the Committee stage provides that the penalties apply if any amount which, under the preceding provisions of this clause, is payable to a seaman is not paid within seven days. It follows that the penalties do not apply if payment is made within seven clays. Both payment in full, where practicable, and the amount of £50 or one-quarter in subsection (2) are such payments; and the clause as now drafted thus means that there will be no penalty so long as such payments are made within seven days. In other words, they need not be made for seven days because no penalty would be attracted until then.

I suggest that the clause as it stands at the moment makes a nonsense of the Pearson Report in this respect, because I do not think that, if the point had arisen then, the Report would have accepted that this situation should obtain. I think it is clear by implication that it was the recommendation of that body —although I admit that they have not said so in writing —that the maximum proportion of a seaman's wages should be paid to him on discharge. In so far as the clause would permit irresponsible shipowners to avoid doing that without penalty, I think (hat the Amendment is justified, and I hope that noble Lords will accept it. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am sure the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brown, for that explanation. He has shown that the Amendment which I proposed at Committee stage is defective, and I shall be glad to accept his counter-Amendment. The Amendment was one among three safeguards which we sought to insert into the Bill to ensure that if we are to have these heavy penalties of wages running on they operate fairly. We have not succeeded in convincing the Government about any of our Amendments, and I do not wish to press this particular point, especially as the wording we succeeded in achieving in our Amendment has been shown to be defective.


My Lords, this Amendment and the two subsequent Amendments are consequential on Amendment No. 1. I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved —

Page 6, line 1, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert — ("(2) The account shall be delivered not later than the time at which the balance of wages is payable to the seaman."). —(Lord Sandford.)


My Lords, I cannot prevail against the built-in majority of noble Lords opposite. It would be churlish to contest this Amendment and the following two Amendments, because they are part of the scheme of restructuring Clause 7 envisaged in Amendment No. 1.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I remind him that he has a potential voting strength of something like 110, which I have seen mustered opposite. He can hardly call 76 a built-in majority.


My Lords, may I remind the noble Lord that if we issue a three-line Whip, the other side can easily produce a good many more than 110. I think that that is a somewhat ungenerous remark, in view of the fact that there is a built-in majority.

Clause 9 [Regulations relating to wages and accounts]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved — Page 6, leave out line 43. —(Lord Sandford.)


My Lords, I am not going to object to this Amendment on the same ground as on the previous Amendment.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved — Page 6, line 43, at end insert —(" (f) varying the amounts referred to in subsection (2) of section 7 of this Act.") —(Lord Sandford.)


My Lords, I accept this Amendment on the same ground as the two previous Amendments.

Clause 12 [Power of Court to award interest on wages due otherwise than under new agreement]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 6: Page 7, line 39, after ("due") insert ("to a mistake.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on Committee stage we had a discussion on a similar point in Clause 7(4), raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, on Second Reading and tackled by two Amendments, one by the noble Lord, Lord Brown, and the other by myself. The noble Lord's Amendment was, I think properly, accepted and I did not move my own, but the same persuasive arguments put forward by the noble Lord in support of his Amendment to Clause 7(4) apply, it seems to me, with equal cogency, to Clause 12. As the noble Lord has not moved an Amendment, I have presumed to do it for him. I hope that he will agree with me. I beg to move.


My Lords, I appreciate the intention of the noble Lord in moving this Amendment, in view of the similar Amendment, to which he referred, which I moved on Committee stage. Although I think that in this clause, where we are dealing with the discretion of the courts in making an order, there is less likelihood of "or to any other cause" in line 41 being interpreted as not including a mistake, nevertheless I agree that the matter ought to be made absolutely clear. Therefore I am prepared to recommend your Lord-ships to accept this Amendment.

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

5.36 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 7: Page 16, line 28, leave out from second ("Kingdom") to end of line 29 and insert ("such surgical, medical, dental or optical treatment")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment returns to a point which was raised by my noble friend Lord Hawke on Committee stage (OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 181) to ensure that treatment only for conditions that impair efficiency should be covered by this clause. He was talking about the possibility of a seaman going off at some foreign port and getting an expensive set of false teeth which he could get in the United Kingdom without any charge to the owners. I think that particular point is already adequately met by the clause as drafted. The owners are spared the liability of paying for false teeth or spectacles if a member of a crew decides to get a natty new set in New York and they are not strictly necessary for efficiency. A safeguard of this kind is needed, but on closer inspection I think that the provision needs to be widened, and this is what my Amendment seeks to do.

If what is in the clause is reasonable, it is equally reasonable, it seems to me, that if a member of a crew who has, for instance, some trouble with varicose veins but is nevertheless passed fit for service at sea elects to have them dealt with in New York the additional un-necessary burden of cost should not fall upon the owners. They should not have to foot the bill. Therefore, unless the proviso "as cannot be postponed without impairing efficiency", still in the clause, is made to apply to all four forms of treatment —medical, surgical, dental and optical —instead of only to the last two, as it does at the moment, I think that the owners' liability will be unreasonably wide, as my noble friend Lord Hawke sought to show on Committee stage.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has seen fit, in speaking to this Amendment, to refer to the noble Lord, Lord Hawke. I believe that in the Amendment that follows this one I have met the point of the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, more easily than this Amendment does. I suggest an alteration of the Bill that would lay upon employers only the reasonable costs of all forms of treatment. However, I am bound to deal now with this Amendment. The object is to provide that the only treatment for which an employer would be liable is treatment which cannot be postponed without impairing efficiency. 1 can understand the motives behind the Amendment, but I consider that it would be most unfortunate if a seaman who felt ill or believed himself to be ill should be denied medical treatment because it was judged that this treatment or consultation could be postponed to a later date without impairing his efficiency.

The fact that the man feels ill, or says that he is ill. means in one sense that he is ill. There has never in the past been any suggestion that the owners' liability was too wide and, apart from the limitations in Section 34 of the 1906 Act, illness and injury have been treated in a responsible and generous manner by ship-owners. I do not think that we should now introduce any limitation which might cause someone to be deprived of treatment merely on the ground that his efficiency as a seaman would not be affected.

We have of course introduced this limitation in the case of dental or optical treatment, where there are clear opportunities for abuse, but I think that it would be unwise, for the reasons I have given, to extend it into the general field of medical treatment. The matter is well within the control of the master and agent. Shore medical facilities are not usually offered extravagantly to seamen without reference to somebody who is in a position to pay. It is true that Clause 26 extends the employers' responsibilities beyond those in the 1906 Act to include injuries incurred "not in the service of the ship". These will usually be injuries incurred ashore, but not all injuries incurred ashore have been excluded and there is no new factor here of which the employers have not had previous experience. The amount at present paid out in respect of such injuries is about £5,000 a year. In the light of this explanation and the following Amendment which I propose to move, I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw the Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for making those points, and I must admit that there is a certain amount of force in them. I do not think that the owners would want to see this Bill amended in such a way as to intro-duce harshness of the kind which the noble Lord, perhaps rightly, fears might be introduced if the Amendment was pressed. I agree also that it will be possible to meet some of the points that I made in the way that the noble Lord seeks to meet them in his Amendment, No. 8. Therefore I beg leave to with-draw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 8: Page 16, line 31, after ("the") insert (" reasonable ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, for raising the issue of the possible irresponsible use of the rights of seamen included in this clause, and in order to deal with the point he raised I am now proposing that the reference to the costs which the employer has to bear should be conditioned by the word "reasonable". In other words, the employer will be liable only for reasonable costs, and if there is a dispute about them, then the court will have to settle it. It will give the master of the ship the opportunity of saying to a seaman or other member of the crew who wishes to go ashore and get medical treatment, that the employer will pay only if the costs incurred are reasonable, and that he had better watch his step and not do anything extravagant. In the light of this information, I hope that noble Lords will see fit to accept this Amendment. I beg to move.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for meeting this point. I would have preferred that the word "reasonable" should qualify the action rather than the expenses. The clause as drafted is an absolute lawyers' picnic, and I do not feel capable of arguing to that degree. One must be thankful for what the noble Lord has provided. It would be interesting to know what the position would be supposing the seaman in question goes on what is an unreason-able trip. For instance, he might buy a hearing aid in the United States which is much better than he can get under the National Health Service in this country. Would that be an unreasonable expense or an unreasonable action? No doubt he would claim that he would be a more efficient seaman with the American hearing aid than with the hearing aid provided under the National Health Service. That is what I mean when I say that this clause is a lawyers' picnic. I do not think that it is likely to be brought into operation very often, and I accept what the noble Lord has provided and thank him for it.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 16, line 35, 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 in respect of such expenses and allowing them reason-able discretion in the conduct of any proceedings or the settlement of any claim in respect of such expenses 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 a person so employed.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, sweet reasonableness is coming in from all sides, and I hope that it will not land the courts with undue trouble. I am pro-posing to insert the word "reasonable" here in a redraft of an Amendment that I put down on the Committee stage. I withdrew that Amendment after the noble Lord, Lord Brown, had pointed out that my first effort was too widely drawn and would enable an employer to exhaust too much of the seaman's total rights to claim damages and compensation on his own behalf. I hope that the Amendment as redrafted makes it clear that the employer's interest and concern in this matter is directed to the recovery of the expenses that he has incurred for the medical treatment of his crew member, and that it does not exhaust the other rights of the member of the crew in other aspects of any claim that he might be wishing to lodge.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, who helped us in Committee with this rather difficult matter, pointed out that it will only be possible for one action for damages or compensation to be taken. Therefore, if my Amendment finds favour with the Committee, I think it would have to recognise that before any action is taken there will have to be some sort of understanding between the employer and the seaman. Such an understanding might be covered by the terms of some form, the details of which could be negotiated on the National Maritime Board, and could be available for the master, on behalf of the owners, and the seaman to sign, indicating precisely in each particular case where the line is drawn between the two parties in the action. The proposals that I am making here must envisage that something like that can be done, and I am advised that it will be possible on the National Maritime Board to negotiate an agreement of that sort. I beg to move.


My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Lord has limited the original Amendment that he moved in Committee and that his present Amendment refers only to "reasonable discretion" instead of "full discretion", and that it now refers to discretion in the settlement of medical expenses instead of any claim. Although this is intended to meet one of my objections to the previous Amendment, I think there is a more fundamental objection to the Amendment. It still makes the employer's liability to meet medical expenses conditional upon the employee's co-operation. That, I take it, is the real purpose of the Amendment. It will not arise, apparently, unless the conditions are satisfied. This we say is wrong in principle.

Furthermore, for reasons that I will explain, I think that a provision in the Bill to require this co-operation is both unnecessary and of little use. There are two basic situations in which an employer might wish to seek re-imbursement where he had paid the medical expenses of a seaman who had been injured by the wrongful act of a third party abroad. First, there is the case where the seaman himself sues the third party and seeks to recover dam-ages. It appears to us that, subject to any provision of foreign law to the contrary, he would not be able to have his medical expenses included in those damages as he would not have suffered any loss in respect of them. There would thus normally be no question of the employer being reimbursed in the seaman's action or out of damages received by the seaman. Secondly, there is the case where, assuming the foreign law allows it, the employer wishes to sue the foreign wrongdoer for the medical expenses incurred in his injuring the seaman. This is the case with which we are really concerned here. The co-operation required of the seaman would therefore amount to no more than the giving of evidence in any proceedings the employer might bring. His co-operation in this way could, if necessary (if the proceedings were in the United Kingdom) be compelled by subpoena and if they were abroad his evidence could be taken on commission. I consider, therefore, that any statutory duty imposed in whatever terms on the seaman by United Kingdom law would be of limited value, and would really be little more than propaganda.

With regard to the second proviso, there is nothing in the clause which could prejudice any right of recovery from third parties and such a proviso would not assist the parties. Cases of this type will, for the most part, arise abroad and the proviso could have little or no effect on the rules applied in a foreign court. I fully appreciate that a provision for co-operation is attractive in theory. Indeed, because of its attraction I personally have spent a lot of time with officials discussing this clause. It has received a great deal of attention, but I do not think that it is necessary or appropriate in this Bill. If it were felt that, nevertheless, there should be some provision compelling the seaman's co-operation, I still think that the right remedy would be for an appropriate pro-vision to be inserted in the contract of employment.

I know that the noble Lord has voiced objections to that course, because he has raised the point that the seaman's negotiators might refuse to have it so included. In response to that, I would say that it is not a very contentious point. Reasonable common sense would force its inclusion in the terms of con-tract. If this was refused, it would be a proper subject for discussion in the Maritime Board. I do not believe, after examination, that there is likely to be a great deal of resistance to that appearing in a contract. Matters of detail, in which account could be taken of the laws of the particular countries likely to be concerned, the ships concerned in specific cases, and such matters as the payment of the seaman's expenses—for instance, in coming from Singapore to give evidence in New York—and his expenses while attending at the court, perhaps even as to keeping his job open afterwards, could be settled by negotiation and agreement. These are not matters, with great respect, for this Bill. It would make for a very complex clause. For all these reasons, I cannot advise your Lordships to accept this Amendment.

While I am on my feet, perhaps I should deal with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson. The noble and learned Lord posed the more limited question in Committee; namely, whether something could be put into the clause to keep open the possibility of employers being able to require some reasonable contractual provision to be inserted in the contract to meet this point. I under-took to look at this matter. Although the noble Lord is not here, I think I ought to give this explanation. I have now reconsidered this matter most carefully and I am satisfied that it would not be possible to produce a statutory provision which would be of substantial assistance for the purpose we have in mind. It seems to me that there is some danger of implying that, when such a provision is not included in other con-texts in this Bill, contractual provisions affecting the ultimate liability of the parties (such as we have in mind as being possible in relation to relief and repatriation under Clause 62) would not be possible. This is now a dangerous consequence. A provision which would follow literally the line suggested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, does not really seem practicable. It would involve the proposition that any contract should contain provisions reasonably required by the employer. That cannot really be put into a Bill. It might mean a whole host of law cases. It is a matter of negotiation and not reasonable requirements of the employer. This leads to the problem of how such a provision could be enforced. To say that seamen (and possibly the State) should not have the benefit of the clause at all, unless there were a provision for recoveries in his contract, would be too severe. Anything else I think would be ineffective.

I have taken a long time to comment on this clause, because we have given a great deal of consideration to it. I hope that in the light of this rather long explanation of our attitude the noble Lord will see that this matter is rather too complicated to put into a Bill, and that it ought to be left to negotiation between the seamen's representatives and the employers, and put into the contract.


My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord for giving such full explanation of the difficulties of this matter, and for having given it such full consideration since the last stage. I should be the first to agree with him that there are matters here of such detail and complexity, when one bears in mind that we are dealing with legislation in other countries (and this is likely to apply more abroad than at home), that they ought to be left to regulations, a contract or articles of agreement and negotiation on the National Maritime Board. I accept that. But I return to the main point which I made at the Committee stage, in which I believe I was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson; namely, if this is to be done, what goes into the Bill must be balanced, fair and equitable as between the employers and the seamen.

What has happened so far is that there has been a very considerable and generous extension of liability on the part of the owners extending to the injury and the difficulty into which the seaman gets when ashore abroad, whereas it was previously limited to injury incurred on duty aboard. At the moment there is no countervailing limitation to this liability. My Amendment seeks to give more balance in the Bill to the frame under which the further and more detailed negotiation must be undertaken. To leave the clause as it is now, and to say that the counterpart to this, limiting the liability of the owners, must go somewhere else, in some lesser piece of legislation, will produce inequity and imbalance which cannot be accepted. Therefore, my advice to the House is to support me in this Amendment.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Clause 28 [Drunkenness, etc. on duty]:

6.6 p.m.

LORD MILFORD moved Amendment No. 10: Page 17, line 13, at beginning insert ("The Board of Trade may make regulations that").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I take Amendments Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13 together? I am sorry I am once again taking up the time of the House on these penal clauses, but all enthusiasm towards this otherwise very good Bill will be dissipated unless everything possible is done to make these penal clauses less repellent

5.57 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 9) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 58; Not-Contents, 50.

Aberdare, L. Denham, L. [Teller.] Milverton, L.
Ailwyn, L. Derwent, L. Molson, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Drumalbyn, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Allerton, L. Dudley, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Ampthill, L. Elgin and Kincardine, E. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Atholl, D. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Polwarth, L.
Auckland, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Rankeillour, L.
Barnby, L. Falkland, V. Runciman of Doxford, V.
Belstead, L. Ferrier, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Berkeley, Bs. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Sandford, L.
Bessborough, E. Gray, L. Sandys, L.
Bethell, L. Gridley, L. Sempill, Ly.
Bourne, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Somers, L.
Brecon, L. Hawke, L. Stonehaven, V.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Ilford, L. Strathclyde, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Inglewood, L. Teviot, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Killearn, L. Thurlow, L.
Cottesloe, L. Kilmany, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. Vivian, L.
Craigmyle, L.
Ardwick, L. Hughes, L. Raglan, L.
Beswick, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bowles, L. Jacques, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Brockway, L. Leatherland, L. Sainsbury, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lindgren, L. St. Davids, V.
Brown, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Shackleton, L.(L. Privy Seal.)
Carnock, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Sorensen, L.
Chalfont, L. Longford, E. Stamp, L.
Collison, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Stocks, Bs.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Milford, L. Strabolgi, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Walston, L.
Gardiner, L.(L. Chancellor.) Morrison, L. Willis, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Moyle, L. Winterbottom, L.
Hankey, L. Nunburnholme, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Hanworth, V. O'Hagan, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Henley, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Younger of Leckie, V.
Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Plummer, Bs.

to the seamen. I thank the noble Lord the Minister for the concession he made in the Committee stage of this Bill, when he said that these clauses would be reviewed—I think he said, "at three years". But the National Union of Seamen—and it is understandable when one considers how long they have had to wait for the scrapping of the 1894 Act—do not feel 100 per cent. satisfied. Also, it does not remove the stigma under which they feel they are in being an exception to the withdrawal of the proposals in In Place of Strife. An Act can take a very long time to be amended.

So I am proposing that these penal clauses are made into regulations under the Board of Trade, because this would make it far easier for them to be removed than if they were embodied in the Bill. In putting forward this suggestion I am not asking for enormous alterations to the Bill. The Bill already makes provisions whereby the Board of Trade can make regulations. I am only asking that these penal clauses should be made part of those regulations. Then it would be up to the industry itself to demonstrate that some, or all, of these dangerous bones of contention are not in fact necessary.

My Amendment is not concerned with safety at sea. Of course strong provisions for safety are, and always will be, absolutely necessary. I am concerned only with the question of industrial discipline and industrial relationship. I feel that discontent, grievances born of such penal clauses as these, incorporated in an Act of Parliament, could lead to a dangerous situation at sea. Would such regulations as I propose, drawn up in consultation with representatives of the men and officers, lead to more insubordination on board a ship?


My Lords, I am very happy to accept that we are discussing four Amendments rather than simply Amendment No. 10 alone. I want to give a rather lengthy reply to the noble Lord, who put his points in reasonable terms. There has been much discussion about these clauses and I think the more information there is about the reason for them, the better. I will start by reciting some of the provisions that apply in other industries where acts of misconduct are likely to cause danger, not merely to the persons misconducting themselves but also to members of the public and to other persons. In these cases we find criminal prohibitions of a similar nature, and I want to recite some of the fields in which they occur.

Take, for example, the field of transport, to which merchant shipping is obviously related. First, air. In the field of aviation it is not only an offence wilfully or negligently to act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person therein; it is also an offence for any person to enter any aircraft when drunk, or to be drunk in any aircraft; for any crew member to be under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to impair his capacity; for any person to disobey lawful commands of the commander of the aircraft relating to the safety of the aircraft or persons or property in it, or relating to the safety, efficiency or regularity of air navigation. The penalties range up to £200, six months' imprisonment, and so on.

If we turn to the roads, I need not elaborate on the offence of drunkenness on the road. If we turn to the rail, it is an offence for any driver, guard, porter or other servant to be found drunk while employed upon the railway; to offend against the railway bylaws, rules or regulations, or wilfully, maliciously or negligently to do or omit to do any act whereby the life or limb of a person might be injured or endangered, or the passenger trains might be obstructed or impeded. The offence is punishable by up to two months imprisonment or a fine of £10 on summary conviction, or up to two years' imprisonment on indictment. That is under the Railways Regulation Act of 1848.

In the case of the mines, it is an offence under the Mines & Quarries Act 1954 for any employee to contravene any directions given by the owner or manager of the mine or any rule made by the manager regulating the conduct of mining employees for securing compliance with the Act or orders or rules thereunder. It is an offence for any person negligently or wilfully to do or omit to do anything likely to affect the safety of the mine or the safety or health of persons at the mine; and the penalties in some cases go up to £200.

In short, there is a great deal of legislation that is concerned with safety and which is very similar in its provisions and its effects to the clauses to which the noble Lord has objections. I think we have to face up to the question of safety and quite boldly say that these provisions are necessary. Most other maritime countries have similar provisions with, in general, more severe penalties: Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany and France all have statutory offences covering disobedience, neglect of duty, absence without leave and desertion, as well as the endangering of the ship. In most cases the penalty may be imprisonment as an alternative to a fine. In the case of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Japan and Greece impairment of capacity due to drink or drugs is an offence with a penalty of a fine. What we are pro-posing is therefore reflected in all important maritime countries and is, in general, much less onerous.

Although I am not experienced in the shipping world I am by now very familiar with the pro and con of these clauses. There is the assurance that in three years' time the matter will be reviewed and if a consensus emerges in the industry itself, leading to an approach to the Government, we have undertaken to review the clauses. In the light of what I have said and the arguments I put forward on Committee stage, and which I do not think the noble Lord would wish me to repeat in full now, I think the Amendments should be rejected and the clauses, in the interests of safety, should remain as they are now written. There-fore I would ask the House to reject these Amendments.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for his answer to my question, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 52 [Inquiry into fitness or conduct of officer]:

6.15 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 25, line 35, at end insert— (" (6) Where the certificate of any officer is suspended pursuant to subsection (1) of this section and such suspension is subsequently terminated either under subsection (2) of this section or pursuant to the findings of any inquiry held under subsection (1) of this section, the court, upon the application of the officer, or the persons holding the inquiry, may order that compensation be paid to any such officer for any expenses or loss of earnings which he may have incurred, or such part thereof as the court or the persons holding the inquiry shall determine, and the decision of the court on such an application shall be final.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this matter of what should be done when the certificate of an officer is suspended in advance of an inquiry was dealt with extensively by the Committee headed by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, and the relevant recommendation that he made was: We think that 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.

That is to say, when the officer in question is found by the court of inquiry to be innocent of any offence. I raised the point in Committee on the Question whether the clause should stand part of the Bill, in order to get the reaction of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, and he was kind enough to give it to me in cols. 207 and 208 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. But that did not go any further than the answer given by his colleague in another place. Therefore I thought it necessary to table this Amendment in order to secure a further discussion of this important matter.

The point I should like to make is that everyone appreciates, I believe, that it is not possible to award compensation generally as of right for loss of earnings, or any other loss, to each and every person who gets caught up in inquiries or in litigation. But, contrary to the noble Lord, Lord Brown, I submit that to say that this Amendment would start a precedent of that kind is quite un-reasonable. If it did, the Amendment would indeed be quite unacceptable. I submit that it does not create such a precedent, or indeed any precedent, because the provision contained in this Amendment follows closely the recommendation of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, and it cannot conceivably be of any general application. What is being conferred on the court, as recommended by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is discretion in a particular case—not in every case or under general conditions, but in a particular case—if it sees fit, to order the Board of Trade to indemnify a particular officer who is under inquiry and suspended but subsequently found to be innocent.

If such a provision is not inserted in the Bill at this point I cannot see what redress such an officer would have if, in the event, it was found that owing to some dreadful mistake of the Board of Trade he had been wrongly brought to the inquiry, deprived of any possibility of earning his living for a prolonged period and, in the end, found innocent of any blame. If the noble Lord can assure us that in such a case there would be redress of some other kind, obtained in some other way, I shall be relieved, and I think the whole House will be relieved, to hear about it. Otherwise I am inclined to think that this Amendment will be needed, and clearly the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, thought so too, as a proper and a necessary protection of the individual citizen against the misuse or mistaken use of power by the Executive. I beg to move.


My Lords, the category of officers who have their certificate suspended is not dissimilar from that of people who are arrested for an offence of which they are afterwards acquitted. People can suffer very grave injustice indeed for that reason, and I do not know what the remedies are. I believe that there are some remedies, and at any rate in defending themselves they at least can get legal aid if they cannot afford to pay. I am not sure whether these officers would get legal aid or not. Perhaps the noble Lord, when he comes to reply, could tell me. I can well understand that behind the scenes any inclination the Board of Trade may have to accept an Amendment of this sort would be fought to the last ditch by the Treasury, who, true to form, always imagine the repercussions of any decision on one matter applying to many others in different spheres of life. There is no question about it that in my noble friend's Amendment there is justice, and it would be rather nice if this House could for once put justice into a Bill in defiance of the Treasury. Let us do that to-night and make history.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, suggests that if this Amendment were carried no precedents would be created. Our minds simply are not meeting on this point. I am advised that it is against the currently operating principles of our legal system that a person who is put in jeopardy by reason of his conduct being the subject of a judicial injuiry should be compensated for his loss of earnings if he is subsequently discharged as innocent. We have all known this feeling of injustice over this question. As I stand here, I think it is unjust that this is the general way in which these cases are dealt with in our society. But we really cannot tackle an enormous issue like this, which is no doubt to the officer concerned very important but in the context of the general law a trivial issue, by amending a general principle in this clause out of the blue.

To-day, a person charged with a criminal offence may be suspended from his employment pending trial. He may-be put to the considerable inconvenience of finding bail; he may be remanded in custody. If he is acquitted, he may be awarded costs against the prosecution, but there is no question of being awarded compensation for his loss of earnings, or for inconvenience, or for the loss of reputation amongst his friends that he may have suffered. There is provision for the Crown—not the court, but the Crown —to decide on an ex gratia payment, which is not very often exercised. If we pass this Amendment it will certainly create a precedent. It will be quoted on Bill after Bill as a precedent. It is not a Party political matter; it is not a matter of the Treasury. It is a matter of saying that the courts in every case would have to come to a conclusion as to what precise sum should be paid in these circum-stances. They have no means of deciding what the liquidated sum should be. It is an immense proposition in the implications of the precedent that would be set by this Amendment.

Finally, may I produce what I think may be a convincing argument to your Lordships. We have searched the records, and there is, so far as we can go back, not a single case of an officer whose certificate has been suspended who has been subsequently acquitted; not a single case can we find. This means to say, as I assured noble Lords at Committee stage, that the Board of Trade only exercise their right of suspension after the most critical examination and in circumstances where really it is patently clear that it is dangerous to let this officer go on operating in his normal capacity and there is very strongprima facie evidence that he is guilty of whatever charge is brought against him to cause the suspension. In the light of the fact that that is the record of the use of these powers in the past; the fact that it would certainly create a very important precedent, and also that this is not the Bill, in this relatively unimportant clause, to do that, I would advise your Lordships to reject the Amendment.


My Lords, can the noble Lord answer my point about legal aid, because that is not creating an enormous precedent.


My Lords, I have been hoping for a little note to come to me from the Box, but I have not got one.


My Lords, I cannot speak again, but if somebody else will say something, we can play out time.


My Lords, the answer is that we do not think that legal aid would cover this case. I am sorry to have to say that. I will look into the question and make quite certain of it and perhaps say something more positive on Third Reading. But as I understand it at the moment, I do not believe that legal aid is available to such officers.


My Lords, I would indeed be much impressed, if not convinced, by what the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has said about the fact that this would have to apply to court cases and to people involved in court cases, if an authority as great as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, who must be far more familiar with this point than either the noble Lord, Lord Brown, or myself, had not, in spite of this argument, made the recommendation that he has made.


My Lords, if I may quote the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, he finished his contribution to our last debate by saying: 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."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/4/70, col. 208.] In the light of that, I beg noble Lords not to quote the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearson, on this issue.


My Lords, I am quoting him to the extent that, knowing all the facts that the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has deployed—which he could not fail to know—he nevertheless made the recommendation he did. I can understand the noble and learned Lord's wish not to press the matter from his point of view, but that does not limit us on this side in pressing it if we so see fit. I am really not convinced by the argument that this creates a precedent, for the very reason that the power being conferred is a discretionary power of a court to do something in a particular case. It is not altogether helpful to draw an analogy with the situation which prevails in the case of what goes on in the criminal courts. This is not a criminal court, this is a court of inquiry. An officer's certificate can be suspended by the Board of Trade in circumstances which are far short of the circumstances in which a man can be arrested and deprived of his earnings by the fact that he is in prison and not granted bail. These are the circumstances which prompt me to wish very much to press this Amendment to a Division, but in the circumstances I will withdraw it now and reserve the right to put it forward again at Third Reading, after I have considered what the noble Lord has said. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

6.29 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 32, line 13, leave out from ("seaman") to end of line 18 and insert ("and he has as soon as practicable reported to the proper officer or to a responsible representative of the employers, he may recover them from the employers unless—

  1. (i) under the terms of his employment they were to be borne by him; or
  2. (ii) he was left behind through, his own wrongful act or neglect.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to move Amendment No. 15. Incidentally, may I say that I think an error has crept in somewhere, either in my drafting or in the printing. It should read, "Page 32, line 13", and not line 14, as shown. I moved an Amendment on this point at the Committee stage, but withdrew it in the light of Lord Brown's remarks, shown at column 213 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of April 8. I have reconsidered the Amendment in the light of those remarks, and have put forward a slightly re-drafted Amendment. It gives effect to what I want to achieve in the light of the noble Lord's comments, but it incorporates in the terms in which it is drafted some of the assurances given by the noble Lord, Lord Brown, at column 213. At that point he indicated that the provisions here would not operate until the seaman had reported. But I think if that is so it would be better to put it into the Bill.

There was also the question of upon whose shoulders the onus of proof should lie in proving the circumstances in which the seaman got left behind. I believe that the fact resulting in a seaman's being left behind will be largely within the know-ledge of the seaman, and that it is not equitable that the onus of proving such facts should lie exclusively with the employer. My earlier Amendment would have shifted the onus from the employer to the seamen. The present Amendment is silent upon the onus of proof, which would thus be dealt with under the nor-mal rules of evidence. This seems to me to be a fair solution in the circumstances.

The Amendment also provides for the removal of liability for expenses due solely to the seaman's delay in reporting. This was the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Brown, referred at col. 213, and I think it would be rather better if it were incorporated in the Bill. I hope that has made clear the purpose of my Amendment, which is substantially as it was before, but I believe improved. I beg to move.


My Lords, to put this matter quite simply, I understand that this Amendment would have the effect that before the seaman's right of recovery could arise he would have had to report to the proper officer or to a responsible representative of his employer. That is the main effect of the Amendment. I think I can reassure the noble Lord to the extent that I hope that he will see fit to withdraw this Amendment. I do not want to get too involved because this matter becomes complicated if one goes into detail; but the point is that the Board of Trade are empowered under Clause 62 to make regulations.

I wonder whether I may deal with this matter shortly by saying that after discussions with officials at the Board of Trade I can positively assure the noble Lord that the substance of the Amendment he is proposing will be taken fully into account by the Board of Trade in considering the regulations they will have to make under Clause 62(1). This is a reasonable Amendment, but it raises a matter that is better dealt with by regulation because it will then be the subject of consultation with all the parties concerned, and this is one of the matters upon which we wish to have consultations. There may be complexities in this matter, and on the question of one or other party not necessarily agreeing, the Board of Trade are, as I say, empowered to make regulations, but before doing so they want to listen to the parties. In the circumstances, I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, I think that that assurance goes a long way to meet my point in this Amendment. But I wonder whether the House will agree to allow the noble Lord, Lord Brown, to speak a second time, in order that he may give us a slightly more precise assurance that, in consulting with a view to drawing up these regulations, he will make it quite firm that the obligations arising out of Clause 64 will not operate unless and until the seaman, or whoever is concerned (perhaps a member of the crew), can show convincingly that he has taken all practicable steps to report as soon as possible to the proper officer or, failing the existence of such a person, to the responsible representative of the employers. If that is not done, I think it conceivable that, months after this event has occurred, the man in question may be taking legal advice and may be asked, "Did you report to the proper officer?" He may say, "No, I did not do that", and he may be told, "Well, go and do it now". Unless we have that point covered by the regulations there is here an enormous loop-hole.


My Lords, if I may with the permission of the House speak again, I must say that I cannot give the assurance asked for. I think that the noble Lord has not quite understood what he is asking for. I am sure that he is as keen as I am on proper consultations— indeed, at his instigation I shall later be moving an Amendment to ensure that consultations take place. But, of course, if before you come to consultations you find that people do certain things, this vitiates the consultations. I have no doubt that the Board of Trade will make regulations insisting that men do report, but one must leave the matter there. Sup-posing the employers, the trade unions and others concerned want something different, is the noble Lord really going to bind them during consultations to accept something else because he insists upon it? We are not the only repositories of wisdom. I think the noble Lord will have to accept my assurance that the Board of Trade believe that a provision of this sort will be necessary, but that they must have the right to leave the matter open in case they are convinced during consultations that it is not reasonably necessary that something else should be put in. I think the noble Lord is asking too much to expect me to vitiate consultations in advance in this way, and I beg him to accept the assurances that I have given.


My Lords, if I may, with the leave of the House, speak a second time, I should like to say that perhaps I am being unreasonable. However, this is a most important point, and there is such an enormous loophole at present, I think, that I may feel on Third Reading that it ought to be closed by an Amendment to the Bill itself, but certainly I will not take up the time of the House now. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 85 [Amendment of Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949]:

6.36 p.m.

LORD BROWN moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 41, line 11, at end insert— (" () Before making rules under any of those sections the Board of Trade shall consult with organisations in the United Kingdom appearing to them representative of persons who will be affected by the rules.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a simple point. When Clause 85 of the Bill was considered in Committee in your Lordships' House I undertook to look: further into the question of whether there should be provision in the Bill requiring consultation by the Board with the industry before the making of rules under the powers given by Clause 99. The rules will deal with the provision in ships of radio equipment, direction-finders and radio navigational aids. I am now convinced that there should be a statutory requirement for consultation before the rules are made with organisations in the United Kingdom representing persons affected by the rules. This Amendment so provides. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am sure that the House will be grateful to the noble Lord for having in this respect met the point which we raised on the Committee stage. In view of what he has said, I believe that it will not be necessary for me to move Amendment No. 19, because the purpose of that Amendment is to deal with a matter which could be easily and perhaps more conveniently dealt with in the course of these consultations. Perhaps the noble Lord would like to indicate in a moment whether he agrees that this matter can be so dealt with, in which case I can assure him now that I shall not move Amendment No. 19. At the same time, to encourage him, we are quite willing for him, if he so desires, to move the remaining Amendments, Nos. 17 to 22, which axe in his name, en bloc.


My Lords, yes, certainly. Amendment No. 16, which I am moving now will enable consultations to take place about the duties of radio officers. There will be discussions about this matter. I am glad to know that the noble Lord feels that it will be un-necessary for him to move his Amendment No. 19.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 95 [Fishing vessels]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 17.


My Lords, if no noble Lord objects, I will put with Amendment No. 17 the following Amendment, Amendment No. 18.

Amendments moved—

Page 45, line 1, leave out from beginning to ("not") and insert ("Section 15 of this Act does ").

Clause 96, page 45, line 30, leave out ("and 90") and insert ("88, 90 and 91 ").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Sections substituted for sections 3 and 6 of Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1949]:


If no noble Lord objects, I will put Amendments Nos. 20, 21 and 22 together.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 20 to 22.

Amendments moved—

Page 48, leave out lines 38 to 42.

Schedule 2, page 51, leave out lines 4 to 8 and insert—

("7. Except as provided by or under this Act or any other enactment, the wages due to a seaman under a crew agreement relating to a fishing vessel shall be paid to him in full.")

Schedule 3, page 52, line 36, leave out paragraph 10 and insert—

(" 10. For subsection (2) of section 10 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1964 there shall be substituted the following sub-section—

"(2) Subsection (6) of section 3 of the Act of 1949 (detention of ships not conforming with radio rules) shall apply in relation to the portable radio apparatus so required to be carried by the boats or life rafts on any ship as it applies in relation to the radio equipment of the ship." ").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

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