HC Deb 25 February 1965 vol 707 cc586-7
11. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consolidate the Acts of Parliament which deal with merchant shipping or any group of such Acts which deal with specific aspects of shipping as was done in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, which was itself a consolidating Measure.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Roy Mason)

It would not be worthwhile to consolidate the Merchant Shipping Acts without revising them at the same time. Complete revision would require wide consultations and give rise to a heavy load of work. I am not satisfied that we should be justified in undertaking this at present. I hope that we shall be able to revise the Acts gradually by legislation dealing with the different subjects separately but this is bound to take a considerable time.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the hon. Gentleman say when he is going to make a start with this piecemeal consolidation? Will this not be a useful piece of legal reform for the second 100 not-so-dynamic days? Is not one of the difficulties which the hon. Gentleman is experiencing that it is not now any longer possible to define what is a British ship?

Mr. Mason

I do not know why the hon. and learned Gentleman should be so critical about the reply he has received. He put four similar questions to the previous Administration during the last 18 months and the then Minister of Transport briefly told him, "No". We have started talks in my Department with the shipowners and seafarers with a view to gradually revising the legislation.

Mr. Hogg

Would not the hon. Gentleman think this possibly one of the matters on which the new Law Reform Commissioners might have something to say, or are they to be useless for this kind of law reform?

Mr. Mason

It is not necessary to go to them for this type of legislation. The Board of Trade, in conjunction with the shipowners and seafarers, is gradually revising this legislation. We have started on the process.