§ Mr. Rowlands
asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement on the Pearson Court of Inquiry into the Shipping Industry.
§ Mr. Gunter
The final Report of the Court of Inquiry into certain matters concerning the shipping industry is published today as a Command Paper The Government is most grateful to Lord Pearson and his colleagues for the very comprehensive examination they have made of these matters.
Part I of the Report sets out a number of important recommendations for the improvement of industrial relations within the industry. Part II puts forward suggestions for replacing those parts of the Merchant Shipping Acts concerned with terms and conditions of employment of seamen, and other matters.
The Government and all sections of the industry will need time to study this wide 120W ranging Report and to consider carefully its recommendations. The Government hopes that the Report will help the industry to develop policies which will improve its efficiency and competitive ability, and also its capacity to offer employees a worthwhile career. The Government is ready to play its part in helping the industry to achieve these objectives.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is arranging for work to begin immediately leading to the preparation of a new Merchant Shipping Act. This will be a major undertaking, involving much detailed work. The Government also propose to consider with the industry what can be done to reduce the number of accidents to seamen and to examine the claim for Government assistance towards training costs.
As a first step, I intend to invite representatives of the British Shipping Federation, the Officers' Association and the unions, as soon as they have had an opportunity of considering the Report, to discuss with me the action to be taken on the Report's recommendations. I shall of course have the assistance of my hon. friend the Minister of State at the Board of Trade who is concerned with shipping matters.