In Committee on Finance. - Merchant Shipping (Safety and Loadline Conventions) Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be read a Second Time."

This is a Bill designed to implement the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea and the Convention concerning Loadlines signed in 1929 and 1930 respectively. The safety portion of the proposed Bill will, in the main, amend and extend the existing law in the Merchant Shipping Acts covering the construction and survey of passenger ships, the life-saving appliances to be provided and the wireless telegraphy equipment on ships in general. In addition, the Bill will include a number of provisions of secondary importance for the further safety of life at sea. The loadline portion of the Bill regulates the survey and measurement of ships for the purpose of deciding the position of their loadlines; the issue, duration of loadline certificates; the supervision of ships to ensure compliance with the law; the detention of ships for over-loading, and other breaches of the law; the conditions for the carriage of timber and special conditions for tankers. The Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, 1929, has been ratified by a number of States. It took the place of a Convention of the same title made in 1914, which was the result of an International Conference held in 1913, after the "Titanic" disaster. After the war it was realised that shipping conditions had altered considerably, and that the many advances made, and the further experience gained, necessitated a fresh Convention of larger scope.

The new Convention comes into operation in Great Britain on 1st January, and it is desirable that the law here should be brought into conformity, in order to enable the various requirements to be met, and to ensure that it will be enforced here at the same date. Otherwise a difficult situation would arise. The Loadline Convention is the first International agreement of the kind. An International standard has long been considered a desirable thing. An attempt was made at the International Convention of 1914 but owing to the European War the matter fell into abeyance until 1927 when the British Government appointed a Committee to review the loadline rules. That Committee reported in 1929 and this report formed the basis of the discussions at the International Conference of 1930. These it is proposed to ratify. I suppose the House will agree to the Bill. It is non-controversial. The sole purpose is to give effect to the two Conventions which have been ratified.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11th October.