HC Deb 01 June 1981 vol 5 cc633-4
10. Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, pursuant to his reply on 5 May to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North, when his Department's investigation into stand-by vessel safety guidelines will be completed; and if he will undertake to publish the results of the inquiry.

Mr. Eyre

I hope to be in a position to make a statement by the end of this month.

Mr. Hughes

I am glad to hear that. But will the hon. Gentleman answer the second part of my question? Will he agree to publish the results of the inquiry? In view of the widespread concern about what is happening with regard to safety vessels in the North Sea, will the hon. Gentleman have the widest possible consultations with those in the industry, including the trade unions, and keep an open mind on the replacement of guidelines with legally binding regulations?

Mr. Eyre

I shall certainly consider what the hon. Gentleman said about publication, but I hope to emphasise the main principles in the statement. With regard to standby vessels, the certificates of survey are subject to annual renewal and general safety standards are covered by that requirement, which is part of the stand-by vessel code.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Why should there be any question in the hon. Gentleman's mind about publication? This matter is vital to the issue of safety, and a statement or resume of the Minister's views about the inquiry will be blatantly insufficient.

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Gentleman is, as usual, trying to reduce matters to black and white issues. He knows from experience that the publication of entire reports on shipping matters is not always desirable because of the nature of the evidence that we want people to give. The hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that a principle of publishing entire reports would discourage people from giving independent evidence.