HC Deb 09 June 1998 vol 313 c870
32. Yvette Cooper (Pontefract and Castleford)

If he will make a statement on the sinking of the Rema merchant shipping vessel. [43260]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Ms Glenda Jackson)

The marine accident investigation branch will be investigating the loss of the Rema. It is intended that a report detailing its findings will be published in due course.

Yvette Cooper

I thank my hon. Friend for her answer. She will be aware that men from Castleford went down on the Rema, and that this week some of their relatives have been out to the spot where the ship sank to pay tribute to them. Will she ensure that the forthcoming consultation paper on fishing vehicles accidents is widened to include evidence on marine vessel accidents, such as that of the Rema? I also urge her to consider improving support for the relatives of those involved in fatal accidents, who may be in great distress, unable to have an inquest and bury their loved ones, and unsure of where to turn to find out what happened.

Ms Jackson

The consultation document to which my hon. Friend referred will exclusively look into the appalling record of tragedies in the British fishing fleet. If it were expanded to include merchant vessels, the Rema would be excluded because she was sailing under a foreign flag. However, it will address the issue of flag-state implementation and the Government's commitment to working with the International Maritime Organisation and the European Commission to ensure that substandard ships are taken from the oceans of the world, because they carry with them the risk of appalling loss of life and pose a threat of pollution.

My hon. Friend referred to those who suffered a grievous loss in that accident. The Government will certainly consider all the issues that she raises. I feel sure that the entire House would wish to extend their condolences and their sympathy to her constituents.