HC Deb 16 March 1960 vol 619 cc1289-90
26. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Transport what steps have been taken to bring before the forthcoming Safety at Sea Conference the question of special regulations which will become necessary with the operation of nuclear-powered ships; and if he will propose that the regulations ultimately laid down shall have international application.

Mr. Marples

The proposals made in the Report of the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear-powered Merchant Ships (Cmnd. 958) will be placed before the Conference.

The proposals are in the form of draft recommendations to Governments. The Committee took the view, with which I agree, that it would be premature to seek at this stage to lay down firm international regulations.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that within the next two or three years we will have a large number of ships propelled by nuclear power? Is it not necessary, therefore, that we should have regulations to govern them? When the regulations are introduced will they be carried out internationally, and not like the three-mile limit, the six-mile limit and the twelve-mile limit for fishing?

Mr. Marples

I cannot agree that there will be a large number of nuclear-powered ships on the oceans in two or three years' time. I am certain that there will not be. As the Committee itself considers it desirable to wait for further inquiries before putting these into precise international rules, I am sure that the best thing to do is to agree with it in that respect.

39. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Transport what progress he has made in his discussions on the recommendations of the committee on the safety of nuclear-powered ships; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Marples

I have asked for the comments of the representative organisations of the shipping, shipbuilding and port industries, and these are now being received. I do not propose to come to any final decisions on the Committee's recommendations until they have been discussed at the International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea, which is to meet in London in May.

Mr. Rankin

While the right hon. Gentleman is thinking about those things, will he also remember that the berthing of nuclear-powered ships near heavily populated areas is fraught with danger unless special precautions are taken? Will he consider ensuring that special disciplinary clauses are inserted in the articles of agreement of these ships?

Mr. Marples

I will bear that point in mind after the Conference has been held.

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