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Mariners (Insurance)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Hilary Marquand Mr Hilary Marquand , Middlesbrough East 12:00 am, 16th December 1957

It is entirely reasonable that if an employer provides services which otherwise would have been provided out of National Insurance funds he should pay a small rate of contribution. It follows from that that if he continues to provide the same services and the contribution has to be raised the amount of his abatement of contribution likewise proportionately must be increased. I fully accept that. I know, as the hon. Lady has told us, that both sides of this industry are in full agreement with these arrangements.

The sea-going mariner who pays his contribution as other workers do may have felt hitherto he was getting full value for his contribution, as other men for theirs. Though, unlike them, he could not always receive medical treatment in his own home, or receive the benefits of the Industrial Injuries Fund or of the National Insurance Fund in his own home, because he was abroad or at sea, he may have felt that, on the whole, he was getting value for his money since the services would be provided for him by his employer.

I wonder, however, whether, in view of the recent big increase in contributions, the hon. Lady will find that there is some misgiving on the part of workpeople now about this. For example, the workman who, in this country, is unfortunate enough to have an accident in the street will find he is picked up by the ambulance provided by the National Health Service, taken to hospital, examined, and, if necessary, given medical treatment either in hospital or at home, all out of the National Health Service, with no question.

The sea-going mariner suffering a similar accident in a town abroad where he may be by reason of his occupation, though not pursuing his occupation in that town, may find that he will not receive those advantages. Not having been injured in the course of his employment, he may find that his employer is not prepared to pay all the expenses of his hospitalisation. He may find, should there be no reciprocal agreement between that country and this, that he cannot obtain even from the Government of that foreign country the sort of medical care that he would get at home.

It may be said, it can be said, and it has been said many times, that services provided in this way, if he has an accident at home, are services of the National Health Service not provided out of the National Insurance Fund, but the unfortunate fact is that the Government have gone out of their way now to insist that a subsantial part of the contribution paid today shall be called a National Health Service contribution. The ordinary, seagoing mariner, reckoning what he will pay in contributions and what he is entitled to receive in benefits, may well feel some sense of unjustice, if he has to undergo sickness treatment of any kind, not at sea in the course of his employment, but in a.' foreign town, and as an accidental result of his employment. He may well feel he has a strong sense of grievance against the Government.

I would warn the Government that though they have the full agreement of both sides of the industry for the provisions for contributions under these Regulations, they may find representations being made to them about other aspects of the matter.