HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1318-22

(1) Where part of the area with respect to which the scheme established by a control of movement order relates coincides with pact of a pilotage district (hereafter in this subsection referred to as the "district concerned") but no part of that area coincides with part of another such district, the order shall be so framed as to secure (if it be practicable so to do) that there shall be included amongst the members of the body by whom that scheme is to be administered (or, if it is to be administered by more bodies than one, amongst the members of each of them) a person nominated by the pilotage authority for the district concerned; and where two or more parts of such an area as aforesaid severally coincide with parts of different pilotage districts, the order shall be so framed as to secure (if it be practicable so to do) that there shall be included as aforesaid a person nominated by the pilotage authority for one or other of those districts.

(2) For the purposes of the foregoing subsection, where a control of movement order relates to two or more harbours, the several areas with respect to which the scheme established by the order relates shall be treated as being a single area.—[Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.56 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry (of Transport (Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This new Clause meets the undertaking given in Committee that pilots should be properly represented on the bodies set up to administer control of movement schemes in Clause 18. The wording is complicated, but it was necessary to draft the Clause so as to provide for both single and multiple harbour areas in a scheme, either being associated with single or multiple pilotage areas.

The two cases of multiple and single pilotage areas are dealt with separately in subsection (1). The first part of subsection (1) deals with the case of a single pilotage area, and the second part—that is, lines 8 to 12 of the subsection—deals with the case where more than one pilotage area is affected. In this latter case it would often be appropriate for each pilotage area to have a representative on the body administering the control of movement scheme.

This might prove unnecessary and unacceptable in particular cases, so the wording has been chosen to allow representation from all the affected pilotage areas, but not to require this. The Clause merely requires representation from …one or other of those districts. To get round the difficulty of multiple harbour areas, subsection (2) establishes that several harbour areas concerned in a single order shall be treated as a single area.

I think that this new Clause goes all the way to meet the points that were made in Committee, and that the pilots need have no fear that their invaluable experience and local knowledge will be ignored in the administration of control of movement orders.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

We are very pleased to see this new Clause on the Notice Paper. It means that the Parliamentary Secretary has kept a promise made in the Standing Committee, and it gives me an opportunity to amend something that I said at that time.

I was very much concerned that the pilots should have representation in regard to all these control of movement orders. I argued accordingly, and was supported by my colleagues. I said that a glaring example of the consequence of pilots not being consulted when the new dock was built at Tilbury was that there had always been great difficulties about ships entering and leaving the dock.

I have had a letter from Lord Simon, Chairman of the Port of London Authority, telling me that that statement was not true; that the pilots were consulted, and that the dock was built to a large extent in accordance with their wishes. I then wrote to the pilots to ask how they dare say that to me and mislead me, to which I had correspondance to say that that was not true, either. My point is that I want to convey to the hon. and gallant Gentleman how necessary it is that on matters of this kind experts shall, by law, be consulted, because after these docks were built there was bitter disagreement as to whether or not they had been consulted. It certainly could be said that they were built in such a way that it caused great hardship to those who were entering and leaving the harbour.

4.0 p.m.

The Clause will make certain that, in future, where control of movement orders are made, the pilots will be consulted. They, after all, are responsible for ensuring that ships are brought into and taken out of harbours safely. We are delighted with the Clause. I think that we shall find that it is one of many improvements which the Parliamentary Secretary has conceded to the Opposition after some spirited debate.

Commander Harry Pursey (Kingston upon Hull, East)

As one who served in Committee on the Bill, I should like to associate myself, without repetition, with all that my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) has said, but I wish to get one matter clear with the Parliamentary Secretary. The heading of the new Clause is, "Association of pilots with schemes established by control of movement orders". It is not sufficient to say that the pilotage authority should be associated. This is particularly the case where there is an estuary under dual control, like that of the Humber where the conservancy board is responsible for the pilotage but movement control orders and other things which we shall be going into later will be the responsibility of another authority.

The pilots in Hull run a pilotage committee, but there is another committee, which has a title something like "marine committee", dealing with port information services. It is not represented on the pilotage committee. Is it intended that the pilots should be individually and collectively represented on the actual committee which will deal with all that flows from the Bill, such as movement control and pilotage information service? Can it be made clear on the record once and for all so that the Hull pilots shall know exactly where they stand for the first time in their long history?

Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)

When we tried, in Committee, to prevent the Parliamentary Secretary from eroding away the responsibility of pilots and masters, one of our Amendments asked that pilots, wherever an appropriate pilotage authority existed, should have the right to be represented on the control of movement authority. I said, according to column 435 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of that Committee, that I felt sure that the Parliamentary Secretary could accept that Amendment out of hand.

In essence, the hon. and gallant Gentleman did so. He told us that he could not accept the words of the Amendment and that there were problems, the most important of which probably being that the control of movement authority would not exactly coincide with the pilotage authority. There might be two pilotage authorities serving the whole or a part of an area which became the subject of one control of movement order. This is the problem which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, East (Commander Pursey) has raised. There might even be pilotage authorities which did not wish to be represented on the control of movement authority.

The new Clause meets our Amendment handsomely. If the pilotage authority and the control of movement authority coincide, the pilotage authority will have the right under the Clause to nominate a member of the contol of movement authority. If there are two or more pilotage authorities concerned with an area subject to one control of movement authority the Clause ensures that at least one pilot from one or other of the two pilotage authorities will be nominated.

The debate gives us the opportunity to say how much we appreciate the forthright and generous way in which the Parliamentary Secretary has met the point that we made in Committee. If we do not say that again and again in the course of the debate about the many occasions where he has met points which we have raised, it will be only to avoid repetition. There will still be occasions, however, in this debate, where we shall not be able to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman and we shall be fighting bitterly for the point of view that we expressed in Committee. But here we give wholehearted thanks on behalf of the pilots of the country.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King). In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Commander Pursey), there is a statutory requirement on these bodies that pilots should be represented. The case of the Humber Estuary is quite different. One of these control of movement bodies cannot come into being until the Bill is enacted and until the proper authority has applied to my right hon. Friend for an order to be made.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

Can the Parliamentary Secretary clear up the dispute between the pilotage authorities and the Port of London Council? Can he tell us who were consulted before the new Clause was put on the Notice Paper? We agree with the Clause. We moved something very similar to it in Committee. Were the pilotage authorities consulted.? If not, why not?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I do not think that there was any call for consultation after the Committee had made its views so clear and after some hon. Members had spoken from a brief for the pilots. As far as I know, the only consultation that took place was with the parliamentary draftsmen to find out how we could make this complicated form of words meet the situation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.