HL Deb 05 February 1987 vol 484 cc414-6

8.57 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I beg to move that the draft Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Order 1987, laid before the House on 26th January 1987, be approved.

This order is made under Section 20 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979. It enables effect to be given to Annex II and Protocol I to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973. These have in fact been amended firstly by the Protocol of 1978 and, secondly, by amendments adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation on 5th December 1985.

Four sets of regulations will be required under this order, to come into force on 6th April 1987, which will apply in general to United Kingdom ships wherever they may be and to other ships while they are in the United Kingdom or the territorial waters thereof.

The first set of regulations will cover the reporting of pollution incidents arising from ships. They will require reports to be made on all actual or probable discharges of marine pollutants in packaged form. They will also require such reports on all actual or probable discharges of oil or noxious liquid substances in excess of those permitted. Permissible discharges are detailed in the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1983 and the proposed Merchant Shipping (Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk) Regulations 1987 (which will be made under this order which I shall now explain).

The second set of regulations will cover the prevention and control of pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk by ships. These substances are mainly chemicals but other noxious liquid substances are included. They will include prohibitions and restrictions on discharging tank washings into the sea, the requirement for my department to approve the necessary procedures and arrangements for ships carrying these substances, methods of control and construction, equipment, survey and certification requirements for such ships.

The third and fourth set of regulations will make it mandatory for chemical tankers carrying these noxious liquid substances in bulk, to comply with internationally agreed codes which cover the construction and equipment of such ships.

In making these regulations under this order, the United Kingdom will be fulfilling its international obligations with respect to the prevention and control of marine pollution, and I commend this order to your Lordships.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 26th January be approved. [9th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for outlining this order. There are only two questions I should like to ask the noble Lord. Any order which carries out international obligations, particularly of this kind, would naturally receive the support of the Opposition. Reference is made to the reporting of incidents, or the threat of possible incidents that might involve pollution. To whom will the reporting be made? I have particularly in mind countries across the Channel and Ireland. Will some arrangement be made whereby both countries will be informed?

The Minister also referred to the fact that the order may have some effect on the construction of ships. As I understand that the order is to take effect from 6th April this year, have discussions with the General Council of British Shipping been such that there will be a guarantee that that could take effect if structural alterations have to be made?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his general welcome to the order. To turn to reporting, the noble Lord asked particularly about our near European neighbours. Of course, we operate very closely with them under a number of conventions. The mechanism will be the same for this reporting as it is at present for the reporting of oil discharges. This extends the mechanism at present in force for oil discharges to cover the requirements for other particular types of chemicals. The report is made to the nearest coastal state by the fastest means possible. These guidelines will be developed by means of an M Notice. It is really an extension to the existing arrangements.

So far as concerns consultations with the GCBS, yes, there will be certain requirements regarding ship construction. We have consulted fully with the industry and also with the unions because the masters of the ships are responsible for some of this reporting. Those consultations have been satisfactory. Although I cannot give a positive answer to the noble Lord, I very much hope that all ships will be able to comply with these regulations when they come into force.

On Question, Motion agreed to.