HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc659-61
6. Dr. Wyndham Davies

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy regarding safety in small boats; and how many such boats were involved in inshore casualties in United Kingdom waters in 1964.

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

Small boats which ply for hire are already subject to control by the Board of Trade or by local authorities and I am satisfied with these arrangements. The Board of Trade's regulations requiring the provision of safety appliances do not apply at present to private craft under 45 ft. in length but my right hon. Friend is considering whether they should be extended to cover smaller vessels.

Inshore casualties reported to Her Majesty's Coastguard in 1964 involved 658 small boats; of these casualties 21 resulted in loss of life.

Dr. Davies

Would the Minister bear in mind that the figures I have for Her Majesty's Coastguard reports in 1964 are over 1,000? This is a large increase on the year before. I think it is important for the Minister to bring in some regulations before long on buoyancy in small craft of this type and also to deal with the whole problem of life jackets. Would the Minister examine the report of the Medical Commission on Accident Prevention which came out this week and dealt with these points?

Mr. Mason

I have noted the report and I do not think I can go further than that. The Board is already in touch with yachting and other associations with a view first to deciding on the range of vessels under 45 ft. in length which should be covered and a meeting about this should take place in the autumn.

Sir B. Janner

Will the Minister say what support he is prepared to give to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and its pamphlet, "Safety Afloat", so that publicity on safety measures may be effectively carried out?

Mr. Mason

As my hon. Friend says, there is available a booklet on "Safety Afloat" published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents which has my full support. Much useful work in this field has already been done by yachting and sailing clubs and the more that can be done in this way the better.

Mr. G. R. Howard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. Will he and the Government do everything they can to encourage propaganda to tell people what is available to them from the point of view of rescue services and so on? Will they do everything they can to try to stop people going to sea in unseaworthy craft? We saw a report only last week about someone who went out to sea in a ship which turned over to fetch in his daughter who had gone out in a boat. Education is required. We cannot make people wear life-jackets all the time. What is needed is education about the dangers at sea for these people before they go out to sea.

Mr. Mason

I agree that we cannot legislate for stupidity and that many of these accidents at sea are due to amateur sailors who have never bothered to read such documents as the one I mentioned, "Safety Afloat".

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