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Insured Seamen In Hospital

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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asked if, in cases in which insured seamen are taken ill in a British port and ordered by a doctor into hospital, the expenses which the hospital authorities may require the ship owner to guarantee are in any circum stances recoverable from the insurance authorities; if they are not so recoverable, whether the shipowner can be compelled to pay such expenses; and if, in any proposals brought forward for the amendment of Part I. of the National Insurance Act, consideration will be given to the question of at any rate relieving ship owners of any responsibility for expenses incurred in connection with the medical treatment of insured seamen while in British ports?

The liability of a shipowner to provide surgical and medical advice and attendance and maintenance during periods of illness in respect of the seamen employed by him is determined by the Merchant Shipping Acts, and is not affected by the provisions of the National Insurance Acts. I cannot undertake to anticipate the provisions of future legislation with regard to the liabilities of shipowners to their employés.

Does the hon. Gentleman think it either fair or reasonable that British shipowners should be called upon to pay premiums for benefits they cannot obtain, and that it was never intended that they should obtain?

There is no evidence to show that any such state of affairs as that referred to really exists.

Is the suggestion that I have made in my question correct or is it incorrect? If it is correct are the ship-owners to obtain the benefits they have paid for?

The hon. Member, I think, does not apprehend that these men are dealt with under the Merchant Shipping Acts. Questions of that subject ought to be addressed to the Board of Trade.