§ Read 3a (according to Order).
§ LORD PARMOOR moved, after Clause 34, to insert:
§ Certain rules and regulations to be laid before Parliament.
§ ".—(1) Where any of the construction regulations, survey regulations or rules for life-saving appliances applicable to passenger 622 steamers plying on international voyages, or any of the wireless telegraphy rules applicable to ships plying on international voyages, being a regulation or rule made after the passing of this Act and in force at the commencement of this Part of this Act, contains, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, a requirement which—
- (a) is at variance with any specific requirement of the Safety Convention; and
- (b) was not contained in the regulations or rules in force at the passing of this Act;
§ (2) Where any of the construction regulations, survey regulations or wireless telegraphy rules, being a regulation or rule applicable as aforesaid and made after the commencement of this Part of this Act, contains, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, such a requirement as aforesaid, it shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made.
§ (3) All rules for life-saving appliances made after the commencement of this Part of this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, together with a report stating whether any, and if so which, of the rules applicable to passenger steamers plying on international voyages contains, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, such a requirement as aforesaid, and all rules for lifesaving appliances made before the commencement of this Part of this Act, which have not come into force before the commencement of this Part of this Act, shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after the commencement of this Part of this Act, together with such a report as aforesaid.
§ (4) If either House within the next subsequent twenty days on which that House has sat after—
- (a) any regulation or rule is laid before it in pursuance of subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section; or
- (b) any rule is laid before it which is reported in pursuance of subsection (3) of this section to contain such a requirement as aforesaid;
§ (5) Subsection (2) of Section four hundred and twenty-seven of the principal Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any rules for life-saving appliances made after the commencement of this Part of this Act and with respect to any such rules made before the commencement of this Part of this Act which have not come into force before the commencement of this Part of this Act."
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I am sorry that the House should 623 be troubled again with this matter. No doubt the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, agrees with me in that. I have letters from shipowners, particularly from one well known in this House, taking the view that the attitude which the Parliamentary body—not the shipowners themselves—is adopting in this House is raising, in their opinion, a very small point. They desire that the Bill should pass and hope it may pass in such a way that this House agrees with the view put forward by the Board of Trade.
§ I wish to say only a word or two on this Amendment because this matter has been "talked out," if I may use that expression. We are dealing with an International Convention—that is, a Convention that does not come up to the view of all parties but is in the nature of a compromise. The compromise which is before your Lordships in the two Conventions was agreed to by all the parties present, including the representatives of the British shipowners. I should have thought that this in itself would be sufficient unless some great matter were involved. The only point that I could follow at all in the criticism of the Bill was that raised by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Halisham, who said that if we retained our existing national powers and at the same time the Convention was the general rule, a stronger obligation might be placed upon British shipowners than upon the shipowners foreign countries which had signed the Convention. On that point I have made inquiry and have found that under the Act of 1925 arrangements can be made, and have been made in all important cases, by which, if a foreign country allows our shipping to go into its ports—for instance, into German ports—on a certificate that it has complied with the British requirements, then under the principle of reciprocity we allow German ships to enter our ports on a certificate that they have complied with the German regulations. It is that arrangement, which, in fact, is largely used by every large passenger-trading shipowner in the country, that becomes the model in the form of a Convention.
§ The fact that a matter of this kind has been confirmed in the Convention might well persuade us to end the discussion. The view put forward by Great Britain 624 originally, and by her representatives in the Convention, shows that all shipowners are most desirous that the Convention should come into law. I am obliged to say that, if the view that I have put forward is disputed, and the present attitude of noble Lords opposite is insisted upon in another place, as I am sure it will not be, the Convention would have to fail. All parties to the Convention object entirely to their national regulations being reduced and made less efficient so long as they come under the obligation to see that the conditions of the Convention are observed. That is the only possible way, and no greater uniformity and equality is possible. I have stated my view of the position and I hope this House will not stand in the way of this Bill being passed, so that the Convention may be ratified.
After Clause 34 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ EARL STANHOPE had given Notice that he would move the omission from subsection (1) of the words "made after the passing of this Act" and the insertion of the words "whether made before or after the passing of this Act." The noble Earl said: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord opposite that we do not want to re-argue the whole of this case, and I hope your Lordships will not expect me to do so. I must say that the speech made by the noble and learned Lord is one that I should have liked to make myself, because he has put forward the whole argument that I have been trying to frame to the House through all the stages of this Bill. He has said that the Convention should come into force as it stands, which is exactly what I am asking for. What I am really asking is, that we should make this Convention the standard and bring our regulations into accord with it. The noble and learned Lord referred to the reciprocity arrangement with other Powers. I think, if he will refer to the Act of 1906,—
§ EARL STANHOPE
I know all about the Act of 1925, but the Act of 1906 is really the main Act in regard to this question. There it is laid down definitely that the Government of this country has power to impose similar regulations to ships coming into our ports, whether 625 under our flag or others, to those imposed on our own ships. Of course there is also a clause by which, where a country has similar regulations to our own, coming up to our standard, we accept their standard as being equivalent to our own, and though the regulations are not identical the standard is regarded as the same. I think the noble and learned Lord will find on inquiry that where nations do not come up to our standard there is no reciprocity agreement and we impose our regulations on those ships.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I should not like to allow that to pass. My information is that, as regards twelve large countries, we do accept, and there are not likely to be any practical differences. Their regulations are accepted and the reciprocity principle prevails, although the regulations are not quite identical.
§ EARL STANHOPE
That is exactly what I said. The regulations may not be identical, but they come up to the same general standard. Therefore, they are quite readily acceptable, and obviously it is a. reasonable agreement. The only point I want to suggest to the noble and learned Lord is that there are countries with a fair amount of shipping that do not come up to our standard and there, I think, he will find that the reciprocity agreement is not in force.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I think the only point between us is that I am anxious that our regulations should come into line with the Convention, not only those to be made but those that are already in force. Let me just add this. I am anxious about this point because it imposes extra obligations on British shipowners as compared with foreign shipowners. It does not make a real charter unless you accept my Amendment.
The point is really this. Under the Shipping Convention there are three classifications of ships: the home trade, the short international voyage and the long international voyage. The home trade ships are left out of account altogether so far as the regulations of the Conventions are concerned. Under the present Board of Trade regulations, there are only two classifications instead of three. They have the home trade, which includes not 626 only coastal ships but ships going from this country to the nearer ports on the Continent; and they have foreign trade. Foreign trade ships are merely those which go from this country to some other country. Our Board of Trade have no regulations whatever for ships that travel between two foreign ports. Under the Convention they will have to make those regulations. They will first have to alter their regulations in regard to the home trade, in order to take out ships going from this country to the Continent—and incidentally to the South of Ireland, which is a separate country no longer excluded from the Conventions. Secondly they will have to superimpose upon the present classification ships which go between two foreign ports and do not call at ports in this country at all. Under that you will get a real hotch-potch of regulations, and I am anxious, as was suggested by the noble and learned Marquess who leads the Liberal Party, that there should be a new code. If there was a new code it is obvious that it would be impossible to put a few regulations before the Houses of Parliament and to have a few not come before the Houses of Parliament. I suggest that the whole lot should come together.
§ LORD PARMOOR
The noble Marquess is not here, but he informed me that he is in favour of our proposal.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I do not think that that alters what I have said. All I have said is that he is in favour of a new code, and that it should come before both Houses of Parliament. As your Lordships know, I am only speaking for the Shipowners' Parliamentary Committee, and in no sense from a Party point of view. Therefore, if the Government decide that they will not accept my Amendment I regret it, because I think my Amendment will improve the Bill. I think it will bring the Bill into line with the Convention. I should like them to do what the Canadian Government is doing. I have here the Bill which has just been brought forward in the Canadian House of Commons. Incidentally, it has only fourteen clauses, instead of well over seventy, as this one has. Clause 4 says:The Governor in Council may make such regulations as may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of the said Conventions. Such regulations shall conform 627 in all respects to the requirements of the said Conventions, and shall have the same force and effect as if enacted herein.
§ EARL STANHOPE
No, it is not the same as here, because the noble and learned Lord is not prepared to bring regulations which are at present in force before Parliament.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Does the noble Lord suggest that the Canadian Government are going to give up regulations which at present apply? As regards new regulations the position is the same as here.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I do not know how you are going to conform with the Convention unless the regulations conform with the Act. I think my Amendment will improve the Bill, but unless I get support I shall not delay the House by pressing the matter to a Division. It must be the Government's responsibility if the Conventions do not have as much effect as most of us would like them to have. We all desire that the Conventions should come into force and have no wish to delay their coming into operation.
§ Amendment to the Amendment moved—
§ In subsection (1), line 6, leave ant ("made after the passing of this Act") and insert ("whether made before or after the passing of this Act").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ On Question, Amendment to the Amendment negatived.
§ On Question, proposed new clause agreed to.
§ Amendment moved—
§ Fourth Schedule, page 223, line 30, third column, after ("eighty-five") insert ("subsection (2) of Section four hundred and twenty-seven.")—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Privilege Amendment made.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.