TUESDAY, 19th MAY, 1925.171
The Committee consisted of the following Members:
Mr. Short (Chairman)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel (Tiverton)
Ainsworth, Major (Bury)
Alexander, Mr. Albert (Hillsborough)
*Allen, Mr. Sandeman (West Derby)
Barker, Mr. (Abertillery)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral (Lewes)
Bourne, Captain (Oxford)
Briggs, Mr. (Blackley)
Brown, Major Clifton (Hexham)
Campbell, Mr. (Camberwell, N. W.)
*Cayzer, Sir Herbert (Portsmouth, S.)
*Chadwick, Sir Burton (Wallasey)
Clayton, Mr. (Widnes)
Cluse, Mr. (Islington, S.)
Craig, Mr. Ernest (Crewe)
Davies, Major George (Yeovil)
Dennison, Mr. (King's Norton)
Edwards, Mr. Hugh (Accrington)
Fairfax, Captain (Norwich)
Falle, Sir Bertram (Portsmouth, N.)
*Fenby, Mr. (Bradford, E.)
Cault, Lieut.-Colonel (Taunton)
Grenfell, Mr. David (Gower)
Grotian, Mr. (Hull, S. W.)
Gunston, Captain (Thornbury)
Hall, Captain W. D'Arcy (Brecon and Radnor)
Hartington, Marquess of (Derbyshire, W.)
Hirst, Mr. W. (Bradford, S.)
Hudson, Mr. Robert (Whitehaven)
Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander (Hull, Central)
*Lister, Sir P. Cunliffe- (Hendon)
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
*Macmillan, Captain (Stockton-on-Tees)
*Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm (Londonderry)
Makins, Brigadier-General (Knutsford)
March, Mr. (Poplar, S.)
Nuttall, Mr. (Birkenhead, W.)
Peto, Mr. Basil (Barnstaple)
Sandeman, Mr. (Middleton and Prestwich)
Scurr, Mr. (Mile End)
*Sexton, Mr. (St. Helens)
Simms, Mr. (Down)
Smith, Mr. Rennie (Penistone)
Smithers, Mr. (Chislehurst)
Somerville, Mr. Annesley (Windsor)
*Stamford, Mr. (Leeds, W.)
Stott, Lieut.-Colonel (Birkenhead, E.)
Taylor, Mr. (Lincoln)
Thompson, Mr. Luke (Sunderland)
Tinne, Mr. (Wavertree)
Waddington, Mr. (Rossendall)
Ward, Lieut.-Colonel John (Stoke-on-Trent)
Warner, Brigadier-General (Bedford, Mid.)
Watson, Sir Francis (Pudsey and Otley)
Watts, Dr. (Withington)
Webb, Mr. (Seaham)
Wilson, Mr. Roy (Stafford, Lichfield)
Williams, Commander Charles (Torquay)
Williams, Mr. John (Llanelly)
*Woodcock, Colonel (Liverpool, Everton)
* Added in respect of the Merchant Shipping (International Labour Conventions) Bill [Lords].
Mr. COLOMB Committee Clerks.
Captain DIVER Committee Clerks.172 173 STANDING COMMITTEE A Tuesday, 19th May, 1925.
[Mr. SHORT in the Chair.]
(1) Where by reason of the wreck or loss of a ship on which a seaman is employed his service terminates before the date contemplated in the agreement, he shall, notwithstanding anything in Section one hundred and fifty-eight of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, but subject to the provisions of this Section, be entitled, in respect of each day on which he is in fact unemployed during a period of two months from the date of the termination of the service, to receive wages at the rate to which he was entitled at that date.
(2) A seaman shall not be entitled to receive wages under this Section if the owner shows that the unemployment was not due to the wreck or loss of the ship and shall not be entitled to receive wages under this Section in respect of any day if the owner shows that the seaman was able to obtain suitable employment on that day.
(3) In this Section the expression "seaman" includes every person employed or engaged in any capacity on board any ship, but in the case of a ship which is a fishing-boat does not include any person who is entitled to be remunerated only by a share in the profits or the gross earnings of the working of the boat.
Mr. BASIL PETO: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "but" ("but subject to the provisions"), to insert the words "without prejudice to his rights under that Section and". My reason for moving this Amendment is that I desire to call the attention of the President of the Board of Trade and the Committee to the fact that this Bill, so far as British shipping is concerned, is not the first Measure to give certain rights to the seamen engaged on a vessel in the 174 event of shipwreck. We have the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, Section 158 of which says: "Where the service of a seaman terminates before the date contemplated in the agreement, by reason of the wreck or loss of the ship or of his being left on shore at any place abroad under a certificate granted as provided by this Act of his unfitness or inability to proceed on the voyage, he shall be entitled to wages up to the time of such termination and not for any longer period." It will be obvious to the Committee that, whereas this Bill provides that the seaman may have wages for a period of two months after the shipwreck, the provisions of this Bill may or may not be superior to the protection which the seaman already enjoys under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. I am very anxious to see that those rights under the Act of 1894 are safeguarded and are not prejudiced by this Bill, in any case where the old rights enjoyed under the 1894 Act are superior to the rights which he would receive under this Bill. Under this Bill there is a limit of two months. Under the 1894 Act he is entitled to wages up to the termination of his engagement, which may be a considerably longer period than two months. Therefore, I think we require the words which I propose in order to make it clear that this Bill is passed without prejudice to the rights already given under the Act of 1894.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Burton Chadwick): I think the hon. Member (Mr. B. Peto) is under a misapprehension. He may have in mind decisions which have been given by the Courts at various times where the service in the case of the stranding of a ship did not terminate with the stranding of the ship. He wants to ensure that the acceptance of the indemnity under this Clause of the Bill shall not be taken as evidence that the service has terminated. However, these decisions, I am advised, do not relate to the rights enjoyed under Section 158 of the 1894 Act. They are decisions that the section did not apply in those particular cases, and consequently the seamen were entitled to their rights under the agreement. Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 of this Bill provides, in effect, that when a ship is wrecked and the seaman's service terminates, he shall be entitled to an indemnity notwithstanding anything in Section 158 of the 1894 Act. In other words, 175 nothing in Section 158 is to interfere with the seaman's right to indemnity under this Clause. The Clause cannot take away any benefit given to the seaman under Section 158, and the Amendment implies that the provision in this Clause might interfere with the seaman's rights under Section 158. That is not the case, and I am afraid my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will not wish to accept the Amendment.
Mr. PETO: I am not concerned with the legal decisions to which my hon. Friend (Sir B. Chadwick) refers. I am looking at the plain wording of the Act of 1894, which says that the seaman is entitled to wages until the termination of his agreement. This Bill says he is entitled to wages for a period of two months from the date of the termination of the service. If I am assured that without the words proposed in the Amendment, the rights conferred under this Bill are in addition to the rights given by the 1894 Act, then I shall be perfectly satisfied. I am not satisfied with the wording as it stands. This Clause says: "subject to the provisions of this section," which seems to indicate that this Clause is to override the rights possessed by the seaman under the 1894 Act. I do not wish to take away with one hand what we are giving with the other.
The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister): The Bill does not do anything of the kind. I will not go into an interpretation of decisions as between my hon. Friend and the Law Courts, but I have had from draftsmen the most expert advice that can be obtained on the proposed Amendment. This Clause was drafted so as not to affect in the slightest degree the rights enjoyed by seamen under Section 158 of the 1894 Act, and it was intended that this provision should operate notwithstanding the fact that that Section was already in operation. If we do not put in the words to which my hon. Friend (Mr. B. Peto) has referred, we may get two conflicting Acts of Parliament, and it might be said that Section 158 took away something from this Convention. We make it clear that the seaman maintains his rights, whatever they be, under Section 158 and also obtains the rights provided for in the 176 Convention. I am advised by expert draftsmen that the present form is the only one which makes it sure that the seaman will, so to speak, get the best of both words.
Mr. PETO: In view of the clear explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. PETO: I beg to move, after Sub-section (1) to insert a new Sub-section: "(2) In the case of the master or any officer of a ship suitable employment shall be interpreted as employment of the same grade in a ship under the same ownership or a ship of similar class at a not inferior rate of pay." This Amendment deals with a different point. Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 provides that a seaman is entitled to two months' pay if he is not offered suitable employment. "Suitable employment" is a term which may be subject to widely different interpretations. The matter may be looked at from very different points of view. The employer's point of view may differ very much from the view taken by the seamen. When we are dealing with the master and officers of a ship—who are, I presume, included in the definition of "seamen" under the Bill—the term "suitable employment" seems to require some definition. It would not be "suitable employment" if you offered to the first officer of a merchant vessel which had been wrecked, a position as third officer on a vessel of a wholly different class at an inferior rate of pay. Taking into consideration the career of a merchant service officer, it would not necessarily be fair even to offer him employment in the same grade, but on a vessel of an inferior class. Therefore, I think he should be entitled to his two months' wages after a shipwreck without any consideration as to "suitable employment" unless the owners of the wrecked vessel or his employers are able to offer him another position of an equal grade in the same line or on a vessel of the same class. It is not in the interests of a merchant shipping officer to take employment inferior in character to that which he previously held, and for that reason I would like to see a new Sub-section defining "suitable employment" in the case of masters and officers. I would also 177 like to see it interpreted as employment in the same grade under the same ownership or in a ship of the same class, at a rate of pay not inferior to that which he was previously receiving. I am not wedded to these words, but I would like to see it made clear that it is not sufficient for the employer to get out of his obligation merely by saying "there is a berth on such and such a tramp; you ought to take it." The merchant service officer, as I have said, has to consider his career, and he is prejudicing himself if he takes employment in an inferior grade or on a vessel of an inferior type or class to that on which he has been employed.
Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. B. Peto) will not press this Amendment, for two reasons. One is a very wide reason covering the whole character of the legislation to which we are consenting to give effect in this Bill, and the other is on the real merits of the case. I wish the Committee to be quite clear as to what we are doing here. We are not passing a piece of domestic legislation, to say what we think should be or should not be the domestic regulations governing our merchant shipping. That is properly done from time to time under our own regular Merchant Shipping Acts. What we are doing here is to give statutory recognition and ratification to certain international Conventions which have been nationally agreed to, I think, among everybody concerned here, and have been internationally agreed to, and it is of the most vital importance—as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me at the Board of Trade will agree—when you come to the ratification of Conventions of this kind, to ratify them as they stand, not detracting from them in any way and not adding to them. Indeed, you must do so. Supposing you added in a ratification Bill something which is not in a Convention, it is equally possible either in this country or—what is probably more important—in other countries when the question of ratification arises, to subtract something from the Convention. On all sides of the House we want to ensure that international legislation, where it is ratified, is ratified absolutely and in every particular so that no nation accepting it can get away from its specific provisions. If you are prepared to add, you must also be prepared to subtract, and you are creating a precedent which 178 may be used most disastrously against the universality of the legislation. Therefore, I would ask the Committee not to accept any Amendment which is not clearly and plainly within the four corners of the Convention as signed. This clearly is not. I have with care drawn the terms of the Clause giving effect to the first Convention, set out in the first Schedule, so as to give, not only the officers, but the seamen, the best advantage possible under the terms of this Convention. I have, as the Committee will see, so drawn it that the onus of proof is in all cases upon the owner and not upon the officer or the seaman, but the Convention says, in terms, in Article 2: "This indemnity shall be paid for the days during which the seaman remains in fact unemployed." That is given effect to in Sub-section (2) by putting in, first of all, that the seaman is entitled to receive his two months' wages, and then, secondly, stating that he shall not be entitled to receive wages if the owner shows that the unemployment was not due to the wreck or loss of the ship, and the owner also shows that the seaman was able to obtain suitable employment on that day. First of all, on the general case that we really must not alter these Conventions and create a precedent—and that would apply to any Amendments, whether intended to detract from the force of these Conventions or to add to them—I would ask my hon. Friend not to press this Amendment. On the general merits, certainly we could not put this forward for the officers and not for the seamen too. Really, it is not possible, and, therefore, you have to read it with regard to seamen just as much as with regard to officers. It would be quite impossible to say that an officer could always get employment really in a ship of the same class. The wrecked ship might be one of a class by itself, or she might have two sister ships, both fully occupied in other parts of the world. I think "suitable" is a recognised term. We have it in all the Unemployment Insurance Acts, where the referees and everybody are cognisant of the meaning of the term, and employ it. It was therefore, I think, designedly for that reason put into the Convention, and we follow the words of the Convention in the Clause. I think the Committee will 179 agree that we are carrying out the Convention to the fullest possible extent, always insisting, as I have pointed out, that in every case it is for the employer to prove that there is suitable employment available, either for the master, officer, or seaman. For those reasons I hope my hon. Friend will not press this Amendment.
Mr. PETO: I wish to make one or two brief remarks on the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. First of all, the first reasons he gave to the Committee for not accepting this or any other Amendment really go to the root of the whole question of the Committee stage of a Bill before the House, and say, in effect, that we are really not here doing anything practical at all, because we cannot cross a "t" or dot an "i" in this Bill without interfering with the Convention, which we are simply called upon to ratify. I do not want to deal with that, but, with regard to the President's remarks on the question of suitable employment, I do hold that there is a broad distinction between what would be suitable employment in the case of an officer and what would be suitable employment in the case of a man. I have brought this Amendment forward on behalf of the Imperial Merchant Service Guild, and they feel that, whereas the rate of pay on perhaps a decent ship, a similar ship in some ways, is all that would really constitute suitable employment in the case of a man, an officer has his career to seek, and if there is to be no limitation except that on a day he shall obtain suitable employment, which implies that he is practically a person to whom the character of the employment is of no consequence except in respect of the rate of pay per day, it is most unsatisfactory. I am very disappointed that the President of the Board of Trade not only refuses to accept the Amendment, but does not recognise that the officer has a separate case from that of the man, and that he ought to have some protection, so that he might not be able to be done out of a couple of months' pay because his employer is able to say that a ship of some sort has turned up in a neighbouring port and that he ought to accept a berth in that ship. I do not think that that is really carrying out what I understood were the terms of the Convention 180 itself, and I think that, whether by these words or by other words, we ought to recognise the fact that the officer ought to receive the benefit of this Convention except in the perhaps rare cases where it happens that really suitable employment of the same character is available. In the ordinary case, in 99 cases out of 100, the two months' pay will enable him to get home and get a suitable, similar job to the one he had before, and I think the same thing applies in the vast majority of cases to the seamen also, but I put this Amendment forward on behalf of the Imperial Merchant Service Guild, because they do not feel that the interests of the officers of the British Mercantile Marine are adequately safeguarded in the Bill as it is drafted.
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. Gentleman press the Amendment?
Mr. PETO: Yes, I should like to press the Amendment.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 2 (Employment of young persons as trimmers or stokers), 3 (Medical examination of young persons), and 4 (Penalties), ordered to stand part of the Bill.
In this Act— The expression "young person" means a person who is under the age of eighteen years. The expression "ship" means any seagoing ship or boat of any description which is registered in the United Kingdom as a British ship, and includes any British fishing-boat entered in the fishing-boat register, but does not include any tug, dredger, sludge vessel, barge, or other craft whose ordinary course of navigation does not extend beyond the seaward limits of the jurisdiction of the harbour or pilotage authority of the port at which such vessel is regularly employed, if and so long as such vessel is engaged in her ordinary occupation.
Mr. MARCH: I beg to move, to leave out the words "but does not include any tug, dredger, sludge vessel, barge or other craft whose ordinary course of navigation does not extend beyond the seaward limits of the jurisdiction of the harbour or pilotage authority of the port at which such vessel is regularly employed, if and so long as such vessel is engaged in her ordinary occupation" 181 I move this Amendment on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling), who raised this question in the House, and I presume that the Minister will be prepared to accept the Amendment according to the reply which was given in the matter. We desire that the register should contain all these people who are registered as seamen and who at times have to go out beyond the navigation lines in various classes of work, and we desire to give them the same rights as are contained in the Bill for other seamen. I understand that this has been added quite apart from the Convention. The Convention, as we have heard the President say, did not contain this prohibition of these classes of vessels, and we therefore desire that these words should be deleted so that the Bill should be in accordance with the International Convention.
Mr. SIDNEY WEBB: I do hope that the Government will consider this Amendment very seriously. It was added in the House of Lords, and it does seem at first sight to be very seriously open to the objection, an objection which proved rather fatal to the previous Amendment, that it does vary the scope of the Convention. I would like to point out that this prohibition is in the definition Clause of this Bill, and the words which it is desired to leave out mean that a large number of vessels—I do not know how many, but I rather speculate that, including vessels of all sorts, they amount to something in the nature of 1,000—are taken, so far as this country is concerned, quite out of the scope of all the Conventions. It will be noticed that the first Schedule states that "For the purpose of this Convention, the term 'vessel" includes all ships and boats, of any nature whatsoever, engaged in maritime navigation, whether publicly or privately owned; it excludes ships of war." That is the definition which is given for each of the three separate Conventions, but that definition is considerably varied by the Bill as it stands, which will not apply to this very considerable number of Vessels, mostly small vessels, but some of them vessels of a very considerable size. The tugs owned by some of the pilotage or harbour authorities are ocean-going, and take vessels pretty well all over the world or, at any rate, into all European waters. Moreover, to take a humbler in- 182 stance nearer home, the sludge vessels of the London County Council do actually go down, I do not know how far, but out to something which, to a landsman at any rate, is quite obviously sea and quite obviously rough, and apparently, therefore, this Amendment which has been inserted in the House of Lords would limit the scope of the International Convention, so far as this country is concerned, by excluding from its provisions all the seamen on board all these various classes of vessels, at any rate, so long as they are used within the jurisdiction of the harbour or pilotage authority of the port. I have not had time to look this up, and I cannot discover at the moment what these limits are, but I would like to point out that the limits of the Port of London, at any rate, go right down to the Nore, I believe. I do not know what the limits of the Port of Liverpool may be, but some of these ports have very extensive jurisdiction out to sea, and it must not be assumed by the Committee that these vessels are merely engaged in dodging about the river or the docks of the ports in question. Moreover, all vessels are to be excluded which habitually do not go beyond the seaward limits of the jurisdiction of the pilotage authority of the port. I believe the pilotage authority of the Port of London is the Trinity House, and the jurisdiction of the Trinity House extends, certainly, over all the British Channel, and I do not know what else. It goes a very long way, and I cannot help suspecting that, if we say that the Conventions are not to apply, so far as this country is concerned, to any vessels of this order, which are habitually employed within the limits of the pilotage authority of the port in question, we are extending this exemption from the Conventions to an enormous number of vessels which are actually, and not infrequently, going out to what ordinary people would consider was sea. It must be remembered that there is no suggestion to exclude from the scope of these Conventions, as regards British vessels, the ordinary Dover and Calais boats, for instance. It is admitted that the boats which go between Dover and Calais, a distance of only 21 miles, are to be included as seagoing vessels in the very wide terms of the Conventions, but, apparently, if a tug belonging to the Port of London takes a vessel out beyond 183 Calais, it will still be within the jurisdiction of the pilotage authority of the Port of London. A tug might even take a vessel, I suppose, right down to the Land's End, and it would still be within the jurisdiction of the pilotage authority of the Port of London. Therefore, it seems to me that the Clause as amended by the House of Lords—they did not, perhaps, give it sufficient consideration—would exclude a very much larger number of vessels, even if they only occasionally go into such venturesome waters as those between Dover and Calais, than was intended or contemplated. This Amendment of the other place seems to me to fall very near within the mischief described in the weighty words of the President, when he said that we must remember that, unless we accept these international Conventions exactly as they are, it may lead to some other Powers, not so virtuous as ourselves, adding to the Conventions in their domestic legislation, or, more seriously, subtracting something from the scope of the Conventions in their domestic legislation. If we accept this Clause as the House of Lords have drafted it, it seems we come under that condemnation, that we are subtracting from the scope of the International Convention in the case of a small class of vessels which the Convention otherwise would have included, and if we are setting that very bad example to all these other wicked nations whom we cannot trust, I suggest it is open, even in point of form, to very serious objection. But I would not rest it on that alone. There is a question of substance in it, and this Clause to which I am objecting applies to all three Conventions. The first Convention provides wages for two months for a seaman whose ship has foundered. I am not suggesting there is very much danger of these vessels actually foundering and becoming a total loss. It would not be so serious in sub stance to exclude the first Convention, but the second Convention prevents the employment of persons under 18 as trimmers or stokers. The object of that is to be found in one of our Factory provisions. It is thought necessary that you should not subject a boy to the unhealthy conditions of a stoke-hold. Then, I ask whether, in the case of the vessels it is now proposed to exclude from that provision, where the stoke-holds are so much 184 worse than the stoke-holds of the Blue Funnel Line or the Atlantic liner, as to which we say we are agreeing with all the nations of the world and the ship-owners of the world that it is not right to subject boys of 16 to the terrible stoke-holds of those liners—is the stoke-hold of a vessel of the London County Council, for instance, very much better for boys? I have not been in it, but I cannot help thinking it is not better than that of the great liner, and I am informed that the ordinary course of employment on these sludge vessels is that the crew, including the boy in the stoke-hold, go on Monday and remain on board until Saturday night; that is to say, it is not a mere trip across the Thames, but is a full week's employment in the stoke-hold. That being so, there is a question of substance as well as a point of form, and if we are resolving that the Blue Funnel Line and the Cunarder are not to employ boys under 18 in their stoke-holds, or as trimmers, we ought to pause before cutting out from that humane provision vessels such as those of which I have been speaking. Therefore, both on the point of form and on the point of substance, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be better to accept this Amendment.
Mr. SEXTON: This is certainly a very serious exclusion, particularly with regard to sea-going tugs, and there are quite a number of them in the United Kingdom. These tugs are used for the purpose of towing dry-docks from here as far as the West Indies, and sometimes further still, and in the ordinary course these tugs are away for a very long voyage. I have known them go across the Bay of Biscay to Alexandria to bring home ships. The sea-going tug is as much a ship, and the stoke-hold of a sea-going tug, as put by my right hon. Friend just now, compared with that of an ordinary liner, is like a hen-roost to a barn. The conditions of the sea-going tug's stoke-hold are not at all comfortable; in fact, they are not comfortable in any stoke-hold at present. But, compared with that of a big liner, the stoke-hold of a sea-going tug—well, the comparison is odious. Therefore, I trust that the President of the Board of Trade will see his way not to persist in this exclusion. There may be something to be said for a dredger which operates 185 within a particular estuary, but few do, and nearly all go out into deep water. They have to go out there, otherwise the refuse they carry would come back on the tide. Another thing is, they all have to sign articles. They go through the ordinary routine of a member of a ship's crew, and are under the jurisdiction of the articles they sign, just in the same way as an ordinary seaman going on a long voyage. Therefore, I hope, on more mature consideration, the right hon. Gentleman will accept the suggestion.
Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I think this is genuinely a very difficult case, and I want to apply the test again that I asked the Committee to apply, that we should interpret the Convention as generously as we can. But we must not go outside the terms of the Convention. With regard to the case raised by my hon. Friend who spoke last, namely, that of the tug which is going for a long voyage in the open sea, that certainly is intended to be covered. I hope the words do, in fact, cover it.
Mr. SEXTON: Not the present words.
Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I am advised they do, but I am quite ready to go into that again. I will tell the Committee quite frankly what the whole history of this is. The Convention, as the Committee, will see, starts in this way. It is in Article I. of the First Schedule. The words are "any vessel engaged in maritime navigation." The same words are used in Article I. of the Third Convention, and also in the Second Convention. It is always the same definition—"in maritime navigation."
Mr. MARCH: Will the right hon. Gentleman read the second paragraph in Article I. in the First Schedule, which defines the position?
Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: The hon. Member refers to the words "For the purpose of this Convention the term 'vessel' includes all ships and boats, of any nature whatsoever, engaged in maritime navigation, whether publicly or privately owned; it excludes ships of war." Of course, maritime navigation is rather a term of art, which, the negotiations 186 being made in French, appeared very simple, and has no very obvious equivalent in English Law.
Mr. SEXTON: They are not registered as a ship.
Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I do not think that is the test you can apply. I think what is meant by this Convention is that you want to include ships that go to sea, and that you did not mean to in-include—I am now talking about the intention of the Convention—a dredger doing its ordinary job close to land, close by the dock, and within the limits of the dock authority for which it habitually works; and, on the other hand, that you did mean to include any vessel which is either habitually a sea-going vessel, or which does go to sea from time to time. This has got rather a long history. When my right hon. Friend was President of the Board of Trade, he, following on a Bill of mine which he found in draft to give effect to this Convention, introduced it, and I followed the precedent he set me in which he showed such respect for another place. He introduced it in another place, and on that occasion there was, apparently, a long debate in that other place. An Amendment was moved by Lord Phillimore of a much wider kind than that ultimately accepted by the present Government, because my right hon. Friend's representative in the House of Lords accepted an Amendment excluding all these vessels, and not even subject to the limitation "if and so long as such vessel is engaged in her ordinary occupation." That, I am sure he will agree with me, certainly goes much too far. That excludes a number of vessels which, plainly and obviously, were intended to be within the limits of this Convention. It is quite true when I brought in this Bill we drafted it without any such exception at all. We followed the words of the Convention. Then there was this long discussion when the Bill was in Committee in another place, and the case was put forward, and was argued very strongly, that you ought not to include vessels which, under no reasonable definition, could be held to be engaged in maritime navigation. The Amendment, in the first place, was very strongly pressed, not factiously at all, but by reasoned argument, and those who took part in the deliberations were convinced that there was a genuine case of diffi- 187 culty to be met, if it could be met, first of all in a direct way, and, secondly, within the terms of the Convention. The representative of the Government in the other House rejected the Amendment as proposed, and the words which now find their place in the definition Clause were inserted. After what I have heard to-day, and, on further consideration, I am not satisfied that those words as inserted there may not include too much. I think what we want to do is quite plain. We want to bring within the scope of this Convention every vessel which can reasonably be said to be engaged, either habitually or from time to time, in maritime navigation, and that that obligation should fall upon the vessel as and when it is engaged in maritime navigation. I am not satisfied that these words that have been inserted in the Bill do not carry the thing too far. I am not sure that you may not have vessels coming within the limits of a pilotage authority which are not going a very considerable distance, and are not really engaged in maritime navigation. I am quite clear, of course, that we ought to include in the Bill any tug which is really going a long voyage and that I was advised, was adequately done by these words. I think we are all at one as to what we mean to do. I do not want to cut these words out altogether if proper words can be found which will cover vessels which will cover every case of maritime navigation, and at the same time will meet the reasonable objection that it was not intended to cover vessels which were not engaged in maritime navigation at all. If my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment now and put it down again on Report, I will go into the matter as carefully as I can and see whether there is any 188 other form of words which will keep us within the Convention. I will not have any reservation to the Convention one way or the other. I have told those who represent that they were having an obligation not in the Convention put upon them that I would accept no Amendment which meant a reservation, because that is impossible when you are dealing with these Conventions; but if within the definition Clause you can define the matter so as to cover maritime navigation, I am quite willing to see to it. I suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn now and put down on the Report stage, and if in the meantime I can find a better form of words I will either put down an Amendment myself or move them as an amendment to the Amendment which my hon. friend has proposed. I will be very glad if I might, in the course of those discussions, consult with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), and I will let him know how those discussions proceed. If we can get an agreed form of words, we will carry it out.
Mr. MARCH: After the thorough and full explanation in connection with the matter, and the promise given to us by the Minister, I will, by the leave of the Committee, withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 6 (Power to apply Act to British possessions), and 7 (Short title and construction) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
First and Second Schedules agreed to.
Bill, without Amendment, ordered to be Reported to the House.
Committee rose at Thirteen minutes before Twelve o'Clock.189
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:
Short, Mr. (Chairman)
Cayzer, Major Sir Herbert
Chadwick, Sir Burton
Craig, Mr. Ernest
Davies, Major George
Grenfell, Mr. David
Hirst, Mr. W.
Lister, Sir Philip Cunliffe-
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch
Peto, Mr. Basil
Smith, Mr. Rennie
Thompson, Mr. Luke
Williams, Commander Charles
Williams, Mr. John190