HC Deb 31 March 1965 vol 709 cc1657-8

3.48 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make new provision in substitution for the Anchors and Chain Cables Act 1899. I propose to detain the House for only a few moments in seeking leave to introduce a modest two-Clause Bill which will, I hope, bring our methods of testing anchors and chains for British ships into line with modern needs. At present the curious situation arises that under the Anchors and Chain Cables Act, 1899, all manufacturers of anchors and chain cables are required to send such material over a certain weight to proving houses that were established under that Act.

The effect of that Act has been that firms manufacturing this equipment have to send it to these proving houses, possibly some considerable distance away, and possibly at quite considerable expense, even though those firms may very well have equipment on their own premises perfectly capable of being used for the purpose. To make matters even more complicated, these very same firms are entitled to use their own equipment in respect of the manufacture of anchors and chain cables for foreign order. A further complication at present is that foreign manufacturers of anchor and chain cables can supply them for British ships without complying with the requirements of the 1899 Act. Therefore, British manufacturers are placed at some considerable disadvantage against their foreign competitors in this regard.

The modest Measure that I seek leave to introduce would repeal the 1899 Act and replace it by giving power to the Board of Trade to make rules which would provide for the testing, marking and certification of anchors and chain cables for use on ships registered in the United Kingdom. The requirements will be Just as stringent, but they will be enabled to be met in the firm"s own premises instead of the equipment having to be sent necessarily to the proving houses, as at present. It will continue to be done under proper supervision.

Under the proposals that I would wish to introduce the responsibility will be placed on the master or owner of the ship to see that these requirements are met, as is the case with other types of equipment for shipping. It will, therefore, be applied to equipment bought from abroad and so rectify the disadvantage at present suffered by British manufacturers.

I should say that these proposals have been long desired by a very wide range of interests concerned and there have been wide consultations about the matter over some years. The shipowners have sought for some time to get this amendment made. The main manufacturers have been anxious for this rectification so that they could use their own equipment if they desire. The Chamber of Shipping, the seamen's organisations, the Shipbuilding Conference, Lloyd's Register, the Dock and Harbour Authorities' Association, and the fishing interests have all been consulted and would welcome the proposals I seek to introduce.

As far as I can see, this is a modest but useful way in which British manufacturers can be assisted and a rather out-of-date procedure brought up to date. I trust that the House will unanimously give me leave to introduce my Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Blenkinsop, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Bagier, Mr. Snow, and Mr. William Wells.