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Seafarers' Wages Bill completes passage through Parliament

22 March 2023

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The Seafarers' Wages Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons amendments in ‘ping pong’, on Tuesday 21 March.

The Seafarers' Wages Bill seeks to improve pay for seafarers with close ties to the UK. It grants protection to those working on ships that regularly use UK ports by ensuring they are paid at least an equivalent rate to the UK National Minimum Wage while in UK waters, irrespective of the nationality of the seafarer or flag of the vessel.

Consideration of amendments

The bill was considered by the House of Lords between 6 July and 7 November 2022, before passing to the House of Commons. 

Members of the Lords considered Commons changes (amendments) to the bill.

The amendments covered subjects including:

  • penalties for harbour authorities failing to comply with the regulations
  • data protection.

Commons reasons were accepted by members without a division (vote).

How to follow 

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library Seafarers' Wages Bill briefing.

Next steps

As both Houses have agreed the text of the bill, it now awaits Royal Assent when it will become an Act (law).

Royal Assent is expected to take place on Thursday 23 March.

What's happened so far?

Third reading: Monday 7 November

Third reading  is the chance for members to ‘tidy up' a bill, making small changes to ensure it is effective.    

No changes to the wording of the bill were put forward ahead of third reading. Members discussed the progress of the bill through the House at the conclusion of Lords stages.

Catch up

What's happened so far?

Report stage: Wednesday 26 October

Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.

Members put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed, including on implementation and monitoring of the draft law. 

Lords divisions 

There were  two divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Visits by a ferry service

The first vote was on amendment 2, which would reduce the number of visits by a ferry service to one particular port needed to qualify, from 120 to 52.

Members voted 171 in favour and 190 against, so the change was not made.

Implementation and monitoring

The second vote was on amendment 5, which would insert a new clause  requiring the Secretary of State to publish a report on the implementation and monitoring of this Act, within 90 days of the Act being passed.

Members voted 161 in favour and 179 against, so the change was not made.

Get involved

Catch up Parliament TV or read a transcript in Lords Hansard . 

Committee stage: Wednesday 12 October

Proposed changes  

Members speaking at committee stage put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed. 

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • the pay of workers, the national minimum wage and protecting other terms and conditions
  • the UK's obligations under international law
  • the enforcement of and compliance with the bill’s provisions. 

Catch up

Second reading: Wednesday 20 July

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. 

Members speaking

Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Conservative), Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government. Topics covered during the debate included:

  • whether the bill is wide enough in its scope
  • working with other countries on seafarer protections
  • enforcement of the new law and the role of ports.

Members speaking in the debate included:

Lord Mackay of Clashfern

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Conservative), former Lord Advocate and Lord Chancellor, made his valedictory speech.

Lord Mackay was one of the final Lord Chancellors to preside over debates in the House of Lords before the role of Lord Speaker was created by the Constitutional Reform Act in 2005. 

Speaking before the debate started, Lord McFall of Alcluith, the Lord Speaker paid tribute:

'My Lords, we now come to the next business, which will include a valedictory speech by a much-loved and respected Member who has made a major and sustained contribution over many years to this House, government and society. As noble Lords will know, I refer to none other than the distinguished former Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern.'

Find out more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV  or read a transcript in Lords Hansard.

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