Deductions from seafarers’ earnings

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 9 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:30, 9 Ionawr 2018

I am grateful to the Minister for his comments concerning this alteration, but I have a couple of questions. As I understand it, this change largely reflects existing practice in law, specifically the fact that RFA seafarers should be entitled to seafarers’ earning deduction. I understand that the seafarers falling into that category have asked the Government to make it clear in this Committee that there will be no detriment for them as a result of this change. They are asking for that because some of them fear retrospective penalties from HMRC or from the employer, given that previously the deduction was practically operated in an informal manner. I hope that the Treasury Minister can make it clear that this measure will not operate to the detriment of the seafarers.

I wanted to make the point that unfortunately this change will not alter the material circumstances of our RFA seafarers; it recognises in law a situation that already exists informally in many cases. We have substantial recruitment issues at the moment with RFA seafarers, and those issues could become more acute because we are going to have 12 vessels when the new ones come on-stream. They will need to be serviced by RFA seafarers, yet the level of pay provided for them has been squeezed because they are covered by the arrangements for public sector employees. Their situation is out of kilter with the situation for seafarers working in the private sector doing comparable jobs, and that is a major concern for them. While we may now see a reflection of the reality when it comes to the tax situation, my concern is that we are not reflecting reality when it comes to recruitment challenges and the need to consider whether current pay levels are appropriate. This should not be viewed as a proxy for the kind of pay lift that at least some of those seafarers are saying they think they need to deal with recruitment challenges. This is rather a cosmetic change.