§ Mr. Woolmer
asked the Minister for Trade what representations he has received from trade unions regarding the responsibility for the payment of appeal fees under the proposed Merchant Shipping (Medical Examinations) Regulations 1983; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Sproat
[pursuant to the reply, 26 April 1983, c. 286]: I received a letter from the National Union of Seamen on 18 April 1983 claiming that if the appeal fee were to be borne by the individual seafarer it would inhibit a number from exercising their right of appeal against an approved registered medical practitioner's decision, and requesting that all appeal costs should be met out of public funds. I am also aware that the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers' Association holds the view that medical examinations and appeals should not impose a charge on individual seafarers.
The proposed Merchant Shipping (Medical Examinations) Regulations do not indicate by whom the fees are to be paid. I regard this as an industrial matter to be settled between the seafarers' trade unions and the employers. I cannot agree that the fees for a service being sought by an individual should be met from public funds.