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Fishermen (Medical Examination)

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 10 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Labour what consultations he held with representative organisations concerned with the fishing industry before deciding not to ratify Convention No. 113 of the International Labour Organisation concerning the medical examination of fishermen; what views were expressed by those he consulted; and whether he will make a statement.

Both sides of the industry were fully consulted during the various stages of discussion leading to this Convention, and their views have been well known throughout. The reasons for the decision not to ratify are set out in the the White Paper Cmnd. 1318, which was laid before the House on 23rd March.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the arguments in the White Paper are very unconvincing to the trade union mainly concerned here? Would he agree that in the smaller fishing vessels, in particular, a man is often on watch for long hours unaccompanied, either on deck or in the engine room, and that a sudden illness could be serious? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the better employers insist on medical examination? Should not the others be brought into line?

This is a matter of opinion, but I think that the hon. Member will agree that the provisions of the Convention go well beyond what is laid down in the United Kingdom not only for the fishing industry but for the Merchant Navy and indeed for industry generally. I think that this was made clear when the matter was discussed.