Clause 10. — (Interpretation, etc.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Selective Employment Payments Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Portsmouth Langstone 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

I should like to refer the Committee briefly to the question of the shipping industry. I think the Minister of Labour is leaving the Committee under a false impression as to the degree of satisfaction which the shipping industry feels about the concessions that he has made. I am sure the shipping industry welcomes the fact that he has made it possible for the shore establishments to be counted as part of the shipping industry. What a ludicrous situation it would have been—it would have been ludicrousness upon ludicrousness, if I may so express it—if the shipping firms of this country were not to have their essential shore-based departments counted as part of the industry.

I should like to refer to the question of Asian crews. This cannot be discounted as lightly as the right hon. Gentleman apparently wishes it to be. There are in the United Kingdom shipping industry 115,000 seafarers domiciled in the United Kingdom. There are 40,000 not domiciled in the United Kingdom. Of those, about 30,000 are recruited abroad. Those 40,000 represent a very substantial segment of the sea-going staff of this most important industry in this country. It would be anomalous to the highest degree to exclude these companies when their ratios have been calculated for the benefit of the very provisions which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced for the other companies of which he has spoken. This would introduce a rather strange form of discrimination against which I would have thought hon. Members opposite particularly would set their faces.

I should like to confirm a point which I made, that the shipping industry is not satisfied with this situation. In his Press release two days ago, the President of the Chamber of Shipping said: We have made urgent and repeated representations to the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour but, apart from two amendments to rectify obvious anomalies, we look like being bogged down in this morass of uncertainty, unless there is a change of heart on the part of the Government when the Committeee stage of the Bill is resumed and concluded in the House of Commons on Monday. This is clear evidence that the industry is far from satisfied. It has made representations but the answer that it has received is far from satisfactory.

I would not expect the Government to change their mind, because we all know that they have not got a mind, but if the right hon. Gentleman will show that he has still got a heart of gold, perhaps he will change his heart.