HL Deb 12 February 1987 vol 484 cc807-48

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

[Amendments Nos. 32 to 34 not moved.]

Lord Underhill moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 30, Amendment No. 35. Subsection (5), line 3, leave out ("the authority considers appropriate") and insert ("are agreed between the authority and the representatives of the relevant licence holders").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as with Amendment No. 31 we included this amendment in the mass grouping. But I wonder whether the Minister would take a careful look at Amendment No. 35 because it is a different principle to what we ask in Amendment No. 31. Here we are saying that instead of the clause reading: the authority considers appropriate We are suggesting the following amendment: are agreed between the authority and the representative of the relevant licence holders". The Minister has agreed that discussions are taking place and that there will be, we hope, an agreement. Therefore, instead of making it look so authoritative, as though the authority is the determining body, if we were to insert the following: arrangements as are agreed between the authority and the representatives of the relevant licence holders that would give some satisfaction and it would not cost the Government anything to agree to it. I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will say why he has limited the amendment to the relevant licence holders or all the old pilots. I also wish to take up a point I made earlier which applies equally to Clause 3 and Amendment No. 30. I should like to ask whether it is possible to simplify enormously the very clumsy definition of "relevant licence holders" and "relevant authorised pilots", which the Minister accepted was, even if necessary, rather cumbrous drafting? One could cut straight through that by referring to the trade union representatives of the pilots. The phrase appears later in the arbitration amendment. If the Minister would consider that matter, it might be possible to simplify the present Clause 3, or the new clause, Amendment No. 30 in that way.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I think it would be helpful to the House if I tried to set out the intention behind the new clause in this amendment. Subsection (1) will allow a CHA to make what arrangements it considers appropriate for the provision of pilotage services. In principle, they will be able to choose between self-employment and employment. It will not be open to the pilots to make this choice. Subsection (5) says that there is no obligation on the CHA to authorise anyone if he is not prepared to accept such arrangements.

These subsections are subject to the provisions in subsections (2) to (4) which allow the pilots the option of being offered employment. That will limit the CHA's option in that they will no longer be able, if the pilots exercise their option, to introduce arrangements on any other basis. If the pilots do not exercise the option available under subsections (2) to (4) then the full range of options remain open to the CHA including the right to insist on employing the pilots they need. I accept the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, that the drafting of subsection (5) in particular has caused problems. I shall be happy to look again at the particular wording.

Concerning the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, I have referred to that earlier. But it would be a good idea for me to take on board what has been said this evening and to come back, I hope, with something which at least will be a little clearer. But I do not think that it will interfere with the principle of what we are trying to achieve.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to have a careful look at this matter. It may be that I am showing how little I know about some of these matters. I was given the impression that when we were discussing a subsection in the Bill which has been replaced by subsection (5) of this new clause, that there would still be an option as to whether the pilots wished to be employed or self-employed and then the CHA would decide accordingly. I think that I heard the Minister say now that the CHA will decide which system it has. Surely there is the opportunity for the members to say which system they want? I hope that the Minister will consider this matter and also the point raised under my Amendment No. 35. On that basis, I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment to Amendment No. 30, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Airedale)

The Question is, That Amendment No. 30 be agreed to?

Viscount Simon

My Lords—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I hope that the noble Viscount will go ahead. He remains seated, so I will go ahead. I have already made a number of rude noises about this amendment and its predecessor Clause 3. A moment ago the Minister suggested that subsection (2) gives the pilots a choice between a contract of employment and a contract for services as self-employed. That limits the apparently very wide options of the CHA under subsection (1). I wonder whether the Minister is right on that point.

Subsection (2) says that the competent harbour authority shall offer to employ the pilot under a contract of employment unless a majority of the relevant licence holders have agreed, or a majority of the relevant authorised pilots have agreed. It does not say that they have the right to opt instead for a contract for services as self-employed. I wonder whether the Minister, if he thinks there is anything in that, will look at that again in connection with his further look at the redrafting of the Bill. I am sorry to be so pertinacious about that.

The Minister was good enough to try to convince me about the interrelationship of subsection (1) and subsection (5), and there is no point in our arguing that again. But I ask again with great respect, since I do not understand it, whether he will explain what subsection (4) means.

It is a particularly baffling piece of drafting. As I suggested on Second Reading, I feel confidence in the draftsman of this Bill, and I have no doubt that he has something cogent in mind, but I am afraid that I cannot see it. Can the Minister give an example of one of the new harbour authorities which will be affected? I rather thought that it was an authority like the new Tees authority would be, where you get a main port, Teesport, on the south side of the estuary and the old pilotage of Hartlepool on the north. But I was baffled then by the words; any area falling within both those parts". If the noble Lord could enlighten me on what that is intended to do to begin with and secondly how it does it, I should be extremely grateful.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, the point I wanted to raise on this amendment arises on subsection (6): A competent harbour authority may pay into any pilots' benefit fund … such contributions as may be required". This was discussed in Committee. I looked up the Committee's report and it appears to me that the Minister did not agree to change this to "shall pay" on the grounds that some of the pilots might not be members of the pilots' benefit fund. Is that a sound argument?

If any pilots were not members of the fund, then surely no contributions would be required of them, so the question would not arise. I still think that in so far as any pilots are members of the fund the clause should read: A competent harbour authority shall pay into any pilots' benefit fund … such contributions as may be required". I was going to raise also subsection (5), but we have said so much about that, and the Minister kindly said that he is going to look at it again, that I shall say no more about it.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I should like to support the point just made by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. I had amendments down to other clauses of the Bill dealing with the pilots' benefit fund which quite rightly were ruled out because those clauses were deleted and I was not able to move the amendments; but the principle still stands. If I had known that the other clauses were going to be ruled out I should have had an amendment to this particular amendment of the Government, which I do not think we saw until a few days ago.

It seems to me that the Minister might have a careful look at this. If you make it a permissive matter as to whether a harbour authority shall pay into the fund, one could be in a situation where even long-serving pilots might find themselves out of the fund because the harbour authority does not wish to pay the contributions. That seems to me again to be extremely unfair. Surely there ought to be the inclusion of the word "shall", or this should be worded somewhat differently so as to avoid a decision being taken by a harbour authority which would unfairly affect pilots whether long serving or new.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I shall attempt to answer the points as best I can. I would pick up the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, on one matter. This new clause, Amendment No. 30, has been down for a week, and the noble Lord has put down amendments to it, so he did of course have the opportunity—

Lord Underhill

My Lords, will the noble Lord permit me to intervene? I did not put down an amendment to that amendment because I had amendments covering this point in other amendments which have gone by the board because the clauses have gone.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that is true. If the noble Lord would cast his mind back to about midday today, we suggested that his amendments be grouped in an earlier group because then they would not have fallen. Perhaps they would have fallen, but at least we could have had a discussion on them.

I covered the pensions point in Committee. Let me try to answer first the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I think I have already answered this point, but the onus at the beginning of the operation—let us try to simplify it—is that the CHA decides whether to employ pilots or whether to offer self-employment. If the CHA decides that it would like to offer self-employment, it is up to the pilots to decide whether they wish that option to be exercised. If the pilots decide that they do not want to be self-employed, they have the right to call the competent harbour authority—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, is the noble Lord sure that he is right about that? Subsection (2) refers only to "a contract of employment".

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I know I am right about it. Whether I am expressing it in the correct way is for the noble and learned Lord to decide.

The noble and learned Lord also asked me about subsection (4). He is quite right. This is intended to cover the Tees and Hartlepool area, where one harbour authority covers two pilotage districts. The subsection provides that where pilots in one former pilotage district opt for employment, a CHA shall not authorise a pilot for the whole harbour being employed in one part but not in the other. To avoid confusion it has to offer to employ in both ports. I amended that subsection in Committee, and I could point out the relevant part to the noble and learned Lord perhaps at a later stage.

The issue of pensions was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. I covered this point at Committee stage. If I could briefly sum up what I said, not all pilots in the future may wish to join the pilots' pension fund. They may wish, for instance, to join the pension fund of the competent harbour authority, or indeed (as they may do under government legislation) wish to make their own pension arrangements. That briefly is why we say "may" rather than "shall" in that subsection.

On Question, Amendment No. 30 agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 36: After Clause 3 insert the following new clause:

("Temporary procedure for resolving disputes as to terms of employment.

. —(1) Where any dispute arises between a competent harbour authority and an authorised pilot—

  1. (a) as to what the terms of any provision in any contract of employment which is to be entered into between them should be; or
  2. (b) whether the terms of any provision in any existing such contract between them should be modified,
and that dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation between them, the authority or the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour may refer the dispute to the arbitration panel appointed in accordance with subsection (2) below and the panel shall determine what the terms of that provision should be and the contracts of employment between the authority and authorised pilots to which their determination is to apply ("relevant contracts").

(2) The arbitration panel referred to in subsection (1) above shall consist of a member appointed by the Secretary of State and two members appointed respectively by a body appearing to the Secretary of State to be representative of harbour authorities throughout the United Kingdom and a body appearing to him to be representative of pilots throughout the United Kingdom.

(3) In making a determination under subsection (1) above the arbitration panel shall have regard to any general guidance issued by the Secretary of State as to the matters to be considered by them.

(4) Where the arbitration panel make a determination under subsection (1) above then, subject to any agreement to the contrary between the parties and to the effect of any subsequent determination under this section—

  1. (a) on and after the date on which the determination is made any relevant contracts entered into before that date shall have effect with the substitution for any inconsistent provision of a provision in the terms determined by the panel; and
  2. (b) any relevant contracts entered into on or after the date shall contain a provision on those terms.

(5) In the case of an authority whose harbour falls within more than one former pilotage district, for the reference in subsection (1) above to the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour there shall be substituted a reference to the majority of the authorised pilots for the part of the harbour for which the authorised pilot as to whose contract the dispute has arisen is authorised.

(6) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Secretary of State may by regulations make such provision as he thinks fit as respects the referral and determination of disputes under subsection (1) above and such regulations may, in particular, provide that the expenses of such referrals and determination are to be borne by the Pilotage Commission or by such other person as the Secretary of State thinks fit.

(7) The preceding provisions of this section shall cease to have effect on such date (not being earlier than the expiry of the period of three years beginning with the appointed day) as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe, but no such order shall affect the terms of any contract continuing in force at that date.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 36, with the leave of the House, I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 102 and 109 which are consequential to it. My noble friend Lord Strathcona has various amendments to those amendments which we shall also no doubt debate.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, on the grouping list according to my note here there is also Amendment No. 37. Is that right?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Yes, my Lords. That is one of the amendments of my noble friend Lord Strathcona which is an amendment to this amendment.

We have already discussed these amendments considerably this evening, but they follow from discussion in Committee on amendments to Clause 3 which sought to include, in an offer for employment which the CHA was obliged to make under that clause, a guarantee as to the level of earnings which should apply. I made it plain, and I have made it plain again today, that I did not regard such a guarantee as justifiable, but I recognised that there was a feeling in the Committee that the provision about the offer of employment needed to be supplemented. Several noble Lords suggested that an arbitration procedure should be considered. These amendments set out such a procedure which I hope your Lordships will accept.

Briefly, the procedure provides for the appointment of a panel of three, with one member appointed by the Secretary of State and one each by representatives of the ports and pilots respectively. If negotiations between a CHA and pilots about the terms and conditions of employment which will apply in the port reach an impasse, it will be open to either side to refer the matter to the panel. Their meeting will be binding unless both parties agree otherwise, whether beforehand or subsequently. The Secretary of State will be able to give the panel general guidance as to the matters to be considered by them. These are for future consideration, and as I have said, we have already had some discussion with representatives of the ports and pilots. I envisage they will require the panel to take account, among other matters, of previous recommended level of earnings of pilots in the port.

Subsection (7) of the proposed new clause will allow the Secretary of State by order to discontinue these procedures, but not until at least three years after the appointed day. This recognises that these are special provisions arising from the change in legislation. There is no case for making them apply permanently. After withdrawal, it will be for ports and pilots to settle terms and conditions between them in the normal way, as any normal workforce does.

The amendment to Schedule 1 provides for the arbitration procedure to be available before the appointed day, as well as afterwards; and that amendment, and the amendment to Clause 27, will allow the cost of the panel to be met from funds raised by the Pilotage Commission.

The matters which may be referred to the panel will not just be levels of earnings, but may, if one of the parties wished, include any other terms and conditions of employment, including pension arrangements, hours of working, redundancy payments, the effects of removal of authorisation on the contract of employment, the length of notice to be given in contracts and other such matters. I believe that with the acceptance of these amendments there can no longer be any doubt in anyone's mind that the Government are fulfilling the undertakings we have given the pilots who continue in the profession, no less than those who retire, that they will receive fair and equitable treatment. I hope noble Lords will agree to accept these amendments. I beg to move.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 36, Amendment No. 37: Subsection (3), at end insert ("Such general guidance shall be in accord with the undertakings given, in particular, in respect of the equitable treatment of the continuing pilots".).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am not sure whether procedurally I should start by thanking the noble Lord for Amendment No. 36 as I am supposed to be speaking to Amendment No. 37. But I shall take a chance and say how much I welcome the noble Lord's amendment, even if, by implication, it is not totally without reservation.

We saw his amendment only two days ago. It is a fairly lengthy one. We have mentioned it several times this evening and I am sure we shall be mentioning it again before we finish. There is no doubt that an arbitration procedure of the kind my noble friend is proposing takes much of the steam out of the suspicions that some of the pilots have had about what their position would be after the Bill was passed. I have no wish to open up any old wounds by explaining why such suspicions have arisen.

I think the Minister recognises that subsection (3) is crucial. My amendment would make subsection (3) read: In making a determination under subsection (1) above the arbitration panel shall have regard to any general guidance issued by the Secretary of State as to the matters to be considered by them. Such general guidance shall be in accord with undertakings given, in particular, in respect of the equitable treatment of the continuing pilots".

Let me say immediately that those words may not be totally satisfactory and acceptable. But the point all the way through is the spirit which the words are intended to convey. We have not used the word "fairness". Instead we have used the phrase "equitable treatment". But a number of words, all of which are very similar, have been used, as has been so often pointed out by various Ministers from the Prime Minister downwards, and in both the Green Paper and the White Paper. Unfortunately it is true to say that there appears to be some disagreement as to exactly what "fairness" in this context means. I should not have suspected that strongly until the debate we had earlier today.

I was very glad to hear the Minister rattle off a list of some of the issues that he envisaged would be covered under this arbitration clause, which appears to be fairly comprehensive and is something that was raised earlier, particularly in connection with the removal of authorisation. I was very glad to hear my noble friend say that that was included. On the question of "fairness", we talked about previous earnings or present entitlements. I recognise that there are technical difficulties because we have Letch agreements, proper numbers and all sorts of complicated technicalities which surround the way in which pilots' earnings have been calculated heretofore.

I think I heard the Minister say that one matter to be taken into account would be the present level of earnings. I hope I heard him say that. I should be grateful if he would confirm that as it is a matter of great importance.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Yes, my Lords.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I see that I have that correct and I am greatly relieved. If he has said that, we have gone a long way. Whether he and I will disagree about the interpretation of what taking into account the present level of earnings means is still open for discussion. However, I understood him to say and to repeat just now he did not feel that the present level of earnings would necessarily be sustained. He seems almost to have made two conflicting statements, because the thought that most of us have is that if the Government unilaterally decide to alter the whole basis on which people earn their living it is up to them to see they are no worse off than they were before. I really believe it is basically as simple as that.

If the Minister is saying that he accepts that, then we are moving forward and the arbitration clause will work effectively. However, it is also true to say that the pilots have had problems since the passing of the 1979 and the 1983 Acts. Every now and again a White Paper or a consultative document is produced which says that the intention is this, that or the other. What has invariably happened is that people—particularly civil servants or the Government—have said, "There may have been all kinds of White Papers, there may have been all sorts of noble intentions, but is this in the legislation? If it isn't in the legislation, I'm sorry, you've had it."

That is the background against which all this is being considered. It is extremely important, therefore, that these guidelines should be as comprehensive, and as binding as possible. I very much hope that the Minister is going to be able to tell us that there is a reasonable prospect that we may see these guidelines before the Bill has its Third Reading in this House, so that at least if we are desperately unhappy we can indicate our feelings about the matter before the Bill finally leaves this House and goes to another place, where it may not receive all the careful attention which it is receiving in this House and which it looks like going on receiving for some hours yet.

I cannot see that words on the lines of my Amendment No. 37 would bind the Government other than to saying that they are against sin and on the side of the angels. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to accept it. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I should like to support Amendment No. 37, standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, but also to speak to the Government's new clause.

As the noble Lord has said, I also welcome the fact that the Minister has kept to his undertaking to look at the question of some machinery. Whether this fills the Bill is another matter but at least he has endeavoured to carry out his promise to look at the question of representations and appeals.

I wonder how far there have been negotiations with the various bodies concerned in drawing up this particular new clause. Has the pilots' organisation been consulted? Has the ports' organisation been consulted? It seems to me that when drawing up a clause involving a new procedure of arbitration it would have been wise to hold such consultations beforehand. However, there may have been consultations. Maybe the Minister can assure us on that issue.

It will be recalled that at the Committee stage I and other Members pressed on various clauses that there should be opportunity for appeals or representations. On a number of them, the Minister, I will not say rejected them, but saw no need for them. I am hoping that now we have this new clause on arbitration before us we can take a very careful look to see exactly what will be the final terms that the arbitration panel will be able to look at.

Generally speaking, those of us who are at all interested in industrial relations do not like arbitration without firm provision for negotiations beforehand. Unfortunately, this Bill leaves negotiations completely on a local basis between a particular port authority and the pilots. There is no basis for general negotiations of conditions and terms; it is all left locally.

As is really covered by the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, whatever we may feel about arbitration, I am certain that it will be regarded by the pilots as no substitute for some guarantee of their present entitlements and conditions. They will want to feel that that is part of the new machinery, and that really is the substance of the noble Lord's amendment to the Government's amendment.

Reference was made earlier on this afternoon to the initial period of three years. The Minister drew attention, quite rightly, to the fact that it is possible for this to be extended. The Secretary of State has the authority to decide whether there shall be a date later than three years. What happens if there should be any change in conditions, new contracts, even after the closing date? What happens to any question of arbitration in those matters?

Similarly, when I raised the question of Associated British Ports being separated, the Minister kindly told me that they had been a party to the particular matter we were discussing then. What will be the position of associated British Ports in relation to the appointment of a representative to the arbitration panel? Will they be participating in the appointment of that representative, or will it be more desirable that there shall be two representatives from the ports—one from the BPA and one from Associated British Ports—giving the pilots two representatives to balance up? If the Minister assures me that whatever may be applicable an arbitration to the British Ports Association will also be applicable to anything that the Associated British Ports may wish to do, then I will accept what he says on that. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, has stressed, the most important matter in the whole of this new clause will be the guidelines to be issued by the Secretary of State under subsection (3).

I would echo what the noble Lord has said. I am sure that everybody will agree that there has been no deliberate attempt to keep the debate going. There have been legitimate questions of a controversial character, though completely non-political in their controversial nature, but this is a very important and complex Bill and it is obvious that we are not going to complete it tonight. I would echo the plea that the noble Lord has made, that it would be of help to everyone if before the Third Reading we could see the actual terms of the guidance to be given by the Secretary of State as to these guidelines because it is the guidelines which will be the key to the whole arbitration clause. If the guidelines are wrong, then you may as well throw this amendment away; it will be of no value to the pilots or to the ports. Therefore, the guidance notes are of great importance to us.

There arises from Lord Strathcona's amendment the point that—I accept what the Minister has said—the guidelines will include reference to the earnings as at present. The important thing is: will the guidelines give some sort of positive recommendation that these are the sorts of matters to which the new agreements between the CHAs and the pilots should be directed? Merely to list them up without some sort of positive lead in the guidelines would appear to me again to mean that something would be missing.

The other point that has not been mentioned is the regulations that are to be made. Different from the guidelines, there are regulations to be made under subsection (6) as the Secretary of State thinks fit, as respects the referral and determination of disputes under subsection (1)". Obviously that relates to the terms of those regulations, because if the terms of referral and determination are not right then once again this clause will not be as valuable as we hoped it would be.

I repeat that we thank the Minister for giving attention to this, but it is not yet in its final desirable shape. If we can see the guidelines, if we can have some idea of what the regulations will be like, and if the other points that have been raised can be considered, then I think we shall be more satisfied.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I do not desire at this stage to speak about Amendment No. 36 in general except that I should like to associate myself with the gratitude that has been expressed to the Minister, because I was one of those who at the Committee stage urged the necessity of either appeal or arbitration. This is yet another example of the way the noble Lord has gone far to meet the views that were put forward in Committee. I am also very grateful for his sending me a copy of the letter which he wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, about the matter.

The only other thing I should like to say about Amendment No. 36, the new clause, arises strictly out of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona; namely, the reference to the general guidance in subsection (3). Desirably that would be subject to parliamentary control, but at any rate I think it is highly important, as has been said, that Parliament should see that general guidance before the Bill passes into law, and indeed that your Lordships should see it before completing the passage of this Bill, whether on Third Reading or on the Motion, That the Bill do now pass. In the meantime, I agree that we have had highly satisfactory indications from the noble Lord the Minister as to the content of those lines of guidance.

Turning to the amendment itself, No. 37, I readily acknowledge the far greater knowledge which the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, has about these matters. I agree with the general thrust and intention of the amendment. Moreover, I have always been in favour of legislating in comprehensible terms, in ordinary language if possible, and avoiding terms of art if that is possible. Nevertheless, I am bound to say that to write these words into a statute would present any court faced with them with an absolutely insurmountable difficulty.

What are the undertakings given in respect of the equitable treatment? I know perfectly well what the noble Lord had in mind, but no court, having to construe this on a challenge, will possibly know, or, if it knows, will be able to judge. So I hope that the noble Lord, having made his point and knowing my sympathy both with his approach on this Bill and on the general way one should legislate, will nevertheless not press his amendment.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I should like also to express my firm approval for the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona. I have listened to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and I fully agree that this is a very difficult point. The question of drafting is exceptionally difficult but we must face this difficulty, must we not? The pilots have been led to believe that they are going to be fairly and equitably treated, and unless something is written into the Bill I feel that they will be greatly disappointed.

Also, if I am still in order, perhaps I may follow the example of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, and make one reference to Amendment No. 36. When I read it I thought there was a little difficulty over the opening words, and perhaps when the noble Lord comes to reply he will say something about that. The beginning of this new clause says: Where any dispute arises between a competent harbour authority and an authorised pilot". But what about disputes that arise before the authorised pilot becomes so authorised, when he is discussing what his terms and conditions are going to be? That would be outside the terms of Clause 36.

Then I bethought me that possibly that was dealt with in Clause 109, to which the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, has already referred. That certainly widens the subjects which can be referred to this arbitration, but it is only where the dispute arises before the appointed day. Is it imagined that there will never be any disputes about terms and conditions of employment after the appointed day? Will those also not need to be subject to investigation and arbitration even though the applicant is not by then an authorised pilot? I will, if I may, just leave those thoughts with the noble Lord, and if he feels inclined to say anything about them when he replies I shall be delighted.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Brightman

My Lords, I rise only to speak on Amendment No. 37. I entirely agree with what my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale has said. In my submission, it imposes a duty which is simply not justiciable. It is too vague. The undertakings are not defined. I ask: to whom were the undertakings given, by whom were they given and on what occasion were they given? I ask your Lordships to reject Amendment No. 37 as drawn.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, I think we are in real difficulty now. The Government could feel a little bit aggrieved at the criticism of what is obviously a brave attempt to meet some of the anxieties of the pilots. The truth of the matter is that I do not believe that under this Bill, however hard the Minister tries, we are going to get real satisfaction; nor, I suspect, are the Government going to move on the guidelines question with a view to publishing them before we come to Third Reading. Governments do not usually like producing guidelines, and we do not know how far those guidelines will be binding, how long they will last and how far they will reflect the policy of the government of the day.

Quite early this morning I thought I heard Mr. Clarke saying that in future pay should be determined not by old-fashioned methods such as comparability and job evaluation but in relation to the profits of undertakings. We do not know what guidance will be given in these matters and I should like to suggest to the noble Lord—because this is a new, major clause and it is very difficult to debate on Report stage—that if he is going to give consideration to the points that have been made, perhaps this particular clause should be recommitted. I am not suggesting that should be done today but it might be done later when he has had a chance to consider these matters, especially if guidelines are going to be published. It is very difficult, because we have the chance to speak only once. It is the classic example of something that could be recommitted, and recommitted any time up to Third Reading.

The noble Lord may not wish to speak on that, but it is quite clear that despite the sincere efforts he has made to get this right it is a very difficult matter. The noble and learned Lords who have spoken have pointed out that the noble Lord's amendment—which I do not think he ever really thought was a serious legal proposal; so I do not think they need worry too much about that—makes it clear that we are in real difficulties, and it may be that some discussion on recommitment may even help the task of not only the noble Lord but of his honourable colleagues in another place when the Bill goes there in Committee.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, to answer the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, I must say that I am not attracted to the idea of recommitting this new clause. The new clause has been produced in response to a specific undertaking given at Committee stage to your Lordships. I feel it is well within the bounds of behaviour of your Lordships' House that I should bring forward an amendment at this stage.

Lord Shackleton

If I may interrupt—

Lord Brabazon of Tara

No. We are on Report. I will not give way; I am sorry.

Lord Shackleton

This is a point of procedure, if the noble Lord will give way.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

No. I will not give way I should like to get on with the business. We are going slowly enough as it is. I know this is an important matter but we are at an important stage.

If I may deal briefly with the amendment, I am bound to agree with the noble and learned Lords who have spoken that the amendment would make little sense in legislation and would be very hard to interpret.

To turn to the more general points on Clause 36, I believe that the precise matters to be covered by the general guidance that the Secretary of State will give to the arbitration panel will need further consideration. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked whether we had consulted on the preparation of this. We have indeed discussed it with the UKPA and the British Ports Association and discussions will be going on.

Lord Underhill

But have they agreed?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

I do not know whether they have agreed, but we are talking to representatives of the pilots and of the ports about what should go into the general guidance. I very much doubt whether those discussions will have reached meaningful conclusions while the Bill is still in front of your Lordships. It may be so. I do not know.

As I said earlier to my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal—and I repeat—I envisage among the considerations that the Secretary of State's general guidance covers will be the recommended level of pilots' earnings under the present arrangements. That does not imply a guarantee of earnings at the present level. As my noble friend will be aware, pilots' earnings are not at present guaranteed in any case.

The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, referred to what my right honourable friend the Paymaster General had said, or was reported as having said, on the wireless this morning.

Lord Shackleton

He said it in his own words.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Very well, in his own words—I did not hear him myself—namely, that pay in future should be linked to the profits of undertakings, and I quite agree with him. Pilots' earnings at present, as my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal will well know, are set at the beginning of the year to take account of what they think the traffic will be into and out of a port in that year. If the traffic in the year falls, perhaps even to nothing, the pilots will not earn anything at all. Therefore, it is a complete myth to say that pilots' earnings at present are guaranteed.

Turning to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, I have talked about the consultations that have taken place. He asked whether the associated British ports were involved in these discussions. I said earlier that they were. As things stand at present, I think that they will be bound by the decisons made by the Brtitish Ports Association, but I should like to check up, see what the position is and come back to the noble Lord.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, asked what would happen before authorisation. That, I think, is covered in Schedule 1.

We are, of course, speaking to the amendment of my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal. I have already said—and I think that my noble friend accepted it—that we would not be able to accept it.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is quite right. This was a hastily conceived amendment and we did not think that it was a serious legal proposal. I freely acknowledge that I have called down upon my head the predictable criticisms of the noble, learned and formidable Lords on the Cross-Benches, if I may so call them. It may be that the proper course is to have a look at something on similar lines, taking out such words as "undertakings given".

I suggest to the Minister that he has slightly confused our discussions by launching into a general debate on Amendment No. 36, with which we have not dealt yet. I had better get out of the way Amendment No. 37 by agreeing, with the leave of the House, to withdraw it subject to the possibility that, given that we are not going to see any guidelines before the Bill leaves the House, we may have to try to insert some kind of rider there. After that, perhaps we can return to the general discussions on Amendments No. 36. That will give us a chance to deal with these matters at the appropriate time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment to Amendment No. 36, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, I take it that Amendment No. 36 is now debatable. I must say to the Minister that, if ever anyone made a case for recommitment, he did by his refusal to let me explain further the purpose of the amendment. It showed a degree of discourtesy that I have never before encountered on Report. I went out of my way to say that we appreciated the efforts that he has made. I still think that it may be necessary—I do not wish to prolong the debate—to give the matter further consideration, and this will be difficult on an amendment at Third Reading. I do not ask him to do anything more. On Report we are always in difficulty. On the whole I think that noble Lords have shown great restraint in not trying to take advantage and speak more than once. I think it is a pity that the noble Lord refused to let me intervene.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, as we are now debating Amendment No. 36, I ask the noble Lord to consider three points.

The first is that raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, as to Amendment No. 109, which deals with the situation before the Act comes into force. There will therefore be only licensed pilots and not authorised pilots. As the noble Viscount pointed out, in the second line of the new clause there is a reference to "authorised pilot". A few lines lower there is a reference to, the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour". The noble Lord thought that that trouble was taken care of by the amendment to the schedule so far as the situation before the Act was concerned. If I may say so, I am not convinced that it is. I ask him at least to be good enough to look at it again.

The second point arises on subsection (1)(d), where evidently there may be a dispute as to an existing contract between an authorised pilot and the CHA. Will the noble Lord say in what circumstances an existing contract may be reviewed, and what sort of existing contract? The point is even stronger if the existing contract has been entered into before the appointed day.

The other point that I should like to make is that paragraph (a) again deals with a contract of employment. There is yet another indication of the bias of the Bill against the self-employed pilot. Finally, about eight lines down in subsection (1) there is a phrase to which I have already referred, the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour". If one could use that phrase in the much disputed and disliked part of the new clause which your Lordships have written in, Amendment No. 30, probably a good deal could be simplified by that.

I realise that there will be difficulty in so far as the draftsman has obviously wanted to bring in the existing pilots. I wonder whether that is strictly necessary and whether one could get by all that complication and cumbrousness by referring as here to, the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour". I do not suggest that the noble Lord should reply to those points at this time, but I should be very grateful if he would say that he will consider them before the next stage.

9 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I passed my general remarks on the amendment, because I thought we were dealing with the whole grouping. But may I make two additional remarks before the Minister replies? First, I am certain that if we had had this new clause at the Committee stage, there would have been very detailed consideration given to every single subsection. Most noble Lords who were interested in the Committee stage will recognise that this question of arbitration, of appeals and of machinery for representation is one of the keystones to the whole of the Pilotage Bill. That is why it is so essential that we should get it right.

Despite what the Minister has replied to my noble friend Lord Shackleton, perhaps he will consult with his colleagues on whether or not this clause might deserve recommital, because if this is not right the comfort within the new regime will not be satisfactory. It is vital that we should get the whole of this right.

I raised the question of the period of three years when I spoke earlier, and this is the one point to which the Minister did not reply. Obviously he had a lot of points to deal with. The decision as to the expiry date, which can be beyond three years, is left to the Secretary of State. It is made clear, as I believe the noble Lord said at the outset, that, no such order shall affect the terms of any contract continuing in force at that date. What will be position of any new contracts that may be made after that date? There is no provision for negotiating machinery except at the local level. There is no machinery for arbitration. I am certain that the pilots will be anxious to know. The side note reads: Temporary procedure for resolving disputes as to terms of employment". While they will be vitally concerned with the temporary procedure while the new regime is finding its footing, they will be equally concerned with the permanent procedure for dealing with disputes.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I have probably said this before and I ask the House's pardon, but I am going to say it now. I think it is not within the normal customs of this House that any Member of the House, whether a Minister or not, should refuse to give way to a former Leader of the House. I regret that it happened and I think many Members of the House also regret it.

Viscount Long

My Lords, I am most grateful for what the noble Lord said; but we go by the standards of this House and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, with great respect, apologised. He knew what Report stage meant and there was only one question at that moment. He virtually said it himself—

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, did I apologise? For what?

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I have not yet spoken to Amendment No. 36 and I hope the House will not think that I am trespassing upon its time or generosity, nor will the Minister think I am trying to take advantage of his very valuable offer of this arbitration clause, but I want to put something to him. He will recall that at Report stage we discussed what was then Amendment No. 110, which will be Amendment No. 97 if we ever reach it, whereby I was concerned that there was no system for consultation or appeal against regulations produced by competent harbour authorities. I suggested that the Pilotage Commission during the transitional period would be a suitable body to tackle that problem.

I just wonder whether the Minister would be prepared to consider the possibility of extending the first few sentences of this clause to include disputes which might arise between the competent harbour authorities and other interested bodies, because having set up the arbitration panel here is a possible way of getting it to do something else, which I believe we should make some provision to do.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I should like to make two quick points. One is that we often have this pressure for recommitment, when somebody has produced a new clause as a result of pressure at an earlier stage, and I do not think it is deserved in this case. My other point is on what the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, has just said. I have down Amendment No. 46 which is about disputes procedure and I am not sure that I would not welcome his thought when I come to that. For once I have agreed with him, but I do not expect that I shall do so again.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, may I first apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, if he thought I was being particularly hasty or rude to him—

Lord Shackleton

Thank you.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, he knows the procedures of the House at Report stage and he has, in fact, had the opportunity, now that we are back to discussing the new clause, to make his point, so that at least is something.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, asked me a number of detailed questions which I should like to look into, particularly the first about the appointed day and the one about existing contracts. I would emphasise that this new clause only covers contracts of employment and not other arrangements which might be made. He also asked me to look at the wording regarding the majority of authorised pilots in subsection (1) and I certainly undertake to do that.

The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked me what would happen after three years or if those three years were extended. I am bound to say that I spoke about that during my opening remarks on the new clause. I made the point that after a certain amount of time pilots and ports should settle terms and conditions between them in the normal way of any other workforce.

My noble friend Lord Strathcona wanted to widen the arbitration process to cover points which I suspect we shall come to when we reach Clause 5. I must say that I am not attracted to that idea. I suspect that he is talking about the area of compulsory pilotage and that sort of thing. I am not certain that my noble friend Lord Mottistone will agree when he hears what he has to say about that.

In general terms I am grateful to noble Lords for having accepted this amendment. I assure the House that we have done our best to produce it in consultation with those involved and as a commitment that I made at the Committee stage. If it is not quite perfect, we shall do our best to put it right.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Pilot boats]:

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 38: Page 5, line 34, after ("Ships") insert ("shall not be").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 38, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 39. I make no apologies for bringing forward the same two amendments as I brought forward at the Committee stage of the Bill. In doing so I thank my noble friend the Minister for sending me a copy of the draft M notice, the merchant shipping regulation on the manning of pilot boats. That appears to be satisfactory.

The pilot boat is in many respects the most important piece of equipment that we are talking about in this Bill. It is the one piece of equipment that means that the pilot service is able to operate at all. It is the piece of equipment that makes certain that pilots themselves continue to be available in sufficient numbers to operate an efficient service. With inefficient pilot boats, we should soon lose our pilots and we should have no one with any experience or training left.

There are times when pilots need to be put on board ships in howling gales during which anyone with any sense would bolt the front door and sit beside the fire. Pilots do not go out because they wish to go out in such weather. They go because some ship, coming from another part of the world, is out there and needs to get to safety. I realise that there are times when a ship should run for open water in bad weather. However, that is not always possible, and if there is a difficult estuary, no matter where, the ship may well need a pilot to get in. Without a pilot boat, it will not have a pilot. Some weather is too bad for even helicopters to fly.

At Committee stage my noble friend said that he would be bringing forward proposals to cover the survey of pilot boats as soon as possible. I suspect that these will be in the form of notices like the M notice. However, it is important that the proposals should be strengthened by the inclusion of these amendments in the Bill. The competent harbour authorities are going to be in competition with one another. They are commercial undertakings. In the past we have seen how our harbours have run down; they have been in severe financial difficulties, sometimes because of dock strikes and sometimes for other reasons.

A harbour authority in financial difficulties will be looking for ways of reducing its costs. One of the easiest ways is to cut down on maintenance, let something go another month before being replaced and make do with second quality materials. The temptation is there. The vast majority of individuals and harbour authorities will not be tempted; but lives are at stake, not just the lives of the pilots but possibly the lives of the crew on the ship to which they are trying to get. The ship gets into difficulty and the lifeboats have to go out and risk the lives of their crews.

It is important that an amendment of this kind, whether this one or another one that my noble friend brings forward at the next stage if he is prepared to do so, goes into the Bill to strengthen it on this point. I beg to move.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, about the great importance to pilots of good pilot boats. At earlier stages of the Bill I supported the provision of some means of keeping pilot boats up to a required standard. It is probably fair to say that at the moment the pilot boats in this country are of a very high standard compared with those of other countries. However, I have a certain reservation about the general survey of pilot boats, because surveying a pilot boat is rather an expensive business. It might be beyond the means of some of the smaller ports to go through this process. I wonder whether the Minister will be able to comment on that point when he comes to reply.

At the Committee stage the Minister gave an assurance that he would bring forward as soon as possible some means of covering the suggestions that we put forward. Perhaps he will be able to give us a little more information on this.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Swinfen, the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, and other noble Lords are quite right to be concerned about the state of pilot boats. By saying that I do not mean to imply that the present state of pilot boats is bad; I am talking about future standards. I can only reaffirm what I said during the debate on these amendments in Committee. The safety and manning of pilot boats are important issues. As my noble friend Lord Swinfen is aware, the department has circulated to interested parties a draft merchant shipping notice which provides that the manning of each pilot boat will be determined by my department's district surveyors after consulting the pilotage authority concerned. In future of course the CHAs will be consulted, following the transfer of pilotage responsibilities to them.

As regards the suggestion that the Secretary of State should approve and license pilot boats, I still think it is important that CHAs should have this responsibility regardless of whatever else is done in the way of regulations. The powers to make regulations on the standards of pilot boats are already contained in legislation in Section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979 and it is therefore not necessary to include such powers in pilotage legislation.

What has made progress difficult in this matter is not any lack of statutory powers but rather the difficulty of making sensible proposals that relate to a fluid situation. My department is nonetheless still considering the terms of regulations on the survey of pilot boats. In Committee I undertook to bring forward proposals on this matter as soon as possible and definitely before the implementation of the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, asked me about the expense of surveying pilot boats. Of course expense is involved—I am not quite sure exactly what it is at the moment—but I think that competent harbour authorities in the future, being commercial organisations, will probably be in a better position to pay those expenses than the present pilotage authorities.

I am aware of the concern about the pilot boat issue and I have undertaken to take things forward on both the manning and the survey aspects. Therefore, I do not consider that this amendment is necessary. I hope that my noble friend will take my word for it that we intend to move ahead on the lines I have suggested and feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister two questions. Did I understand him to say that he hopes to bring forward regulations before the Bill leaves this House or before it goes to another place? That is my first question. My second point is possibly not in the form of a question. The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, said that the people who are vitally interested in the state of these boats are the chaps who have to ride in them; I refer to the pilots. I acknowledge what the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, has said. Formal surveys can be very expensive. At the Committee stage I said that I was not enamoured of the idea of introducing the rather elaborate, and to me rather rigid, Board of Trade type of regulations in respect of pilot boats. But could we not have some arrangement whereby the pilots will have the right of consultation, and indeed our old friend the arbitration procedure, if they are not satisfied with the boat that is being provided by their CHA? The difficulty is that they go to the CHA and say, "Look, it's a ropey old boat that you are giving us"; and the CHA turns round and says, "If you don't like the pilot boat you had better go and work somewhere else". That is not a very satisfactory situation at all. What is needed is some way in which the pilots can express the view that the boat which is being provided is not satisfactory for the purpose.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall answer those two points. What I said about the timing of this matter was that we should bring forward the regulations before the implementation of the Bill.

My noble friend makes a point about consultation and he is worried that pilots may be asked to go out in a ropey old boat. However, when we bring forward these regulations they will of course be binding on the harbour authority. If the pilot does not like the boat, presumably he will be able to go to the marine surveyors and say that he thinks there is something wrong with it and they will have to look into the matter, although, the boat having been certified, I hope they will not find anything wrong with it.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for what he has said. I think that everyone who has taken an interest in this Bill will be interested to see a draft of the regulations before the Bill leaves this House. I shall be grateful if my noble friend can produce it for us. He gave me to understand, though I may not have understood him correctly, that the regulations were being produced under Section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1981.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

No, my Lords; 1979.

Lord Swinfen

I gained the impression, my Lords, that there was some difficulty in drafting regulations that were suitable for all the different harbours and the different areas in which the pilot boats would be operating. One of the points about my Amendment No. 39 is that Section 4 allows for different regulations for boats operated from different harbours. If that particular aspect is a problem in drafting the regulations, will my noble friend consider bringing forward an amendment to this Bill that would amend the relevant Act so that different regulations can apply to different pilot boats in different areas? Quite obviously a boat that may suit the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, out of Aberdeen may not be suitable out of Southampton; they have different conditions. I should be interested to hear what my noble friend has to say. I wonder whether he will consider that point and give me an assurance on it.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I do not think that it is necessary to have an amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act to allow us to make different regulations for different areas. I am pretty sure that that is correct, but if I am wrong I shall write to my noble friend.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, having received that information, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 39 not moved.]

Clause 5 [Pilotage directions]:

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 6, line 12, at end insert— ("(2A) A competent harbour authority shall have jurisdiction for the purposes of pilotage over the area which immediately before the appointed day was a pilotage district which included the area of that authority. (2B) A pilotage direction shall not specify an area other than an area which immediately before the appointed day was a pilotage district unless a harbour revision order has been made under section 14 of the Harbours Act 1964 or, in Northern Ireland, a harbour order has been made under section 1 of the Harbours Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, to alter the limit of the area in respect of which the direction is to apply. (2C) Schedule (Altered Areas) shall have effect in relation to harbour revision orders under subsection (2B) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 5 deals with the question of compulsory pilotage. It may be helpful to the House if, in moving Amendment No. 40, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 44, 108, 112 and 113. The important relevant amendments are Amendments Nos. 40 and 108, the other three amendments being consequential.

In Amendment No. 40 there are three specific proposals dealing with pilotage outside port limits, a harbour revision order and altered areas. These proposals will ensure that the safety of navigation is not on the appointed day prejudiced in those areas currently subject to compulsory pilotage but outside the port limits which it is proposed under the Bill should become the new outer limits. The amendment stipulates that reductions of such limits should be made by means of harbour revision orders.

Amendment No. 108, which is to be inserted before Schedule 1 and become a new schedule, is consequential upon that particular amendment on the safety of navigation outside port limits. It is designed to protect the public interest in the safety of navigation and the consequencs arising from any such changes. It will ensure that initially pilotage areas remain as presently defined. Before they can be changed the Secretary of State will have to consult bodies or organisations representative of the public interest. It is of the utmost importance that the public should be able to voice its opinion about any changes to compulsory pilotage areas. I beg to move.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I supported the principles behind the amendment in Committee and I should like to do so again. We have the problem of the Thames Estuary, about which we have talked on several occasions during our proceedings. Under the Bill it is intended that the present pilotage limits should be drawn into the harbour limits, leaving a large area of what is often rather treacherous sea completely open and without any pilotage. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has a point with these amendments. I should like to reiterate my support.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I should also like to support the spirit behind the amendment on the environmental grounds that I mentioned in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, mentioned the London pilotage district. The Goodwin Sands, the most notorious banks, which have claimed more ships than anything else in this part of the world, will no longer be under pilotage. It is essential not only from the environmental point of view but for the safety of shipping that such an amendment be accepted.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, as I understand it, the amendments would extend the power of the CHA to impose compulsory pilotage. They would give a CHA power to do so by a pilotage direction both within and outside its area of jurisdiction. There would be no right of appeal. That is unacceptable. I hope that my noble friend will be able to turn down the proposal.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we have been over this ground before in Committee. As I understand the intention behind the amendments, it is that a CHA would need to obtain a harbour revision order to reduce the present area of compulsory pilotage or to extend it beyond the limits of the former pilotage district. I am not sure that the amendments achieve that objective. I drew noble Lords' attention, when the same amendments were discussed in Committee, to an apparent inconsistency in the circumstances in which a harbour revision order would be required after the appointed day and those in which a harbour revision order would be required by the shortened procedure before the appointed day. I doubt whether the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, intended that.

Be that as it may, we are talking about compulsory pilotage. I am sure that we should be wrong to take the present limits, whether of the pilot districts or of areas of compulsory pilotage, as a starting point for the CHAs. The existing pilotage districts were established decades ago when modern navigational aids were not available and when patterns of trade and shipping movements were different from what they are today. Similarly, areas of compulsory pilotage were generally laid down long ago in different circumstances. I do not believe that it is realistic to start from the assumption that existing pilotage districts or existing areas of compulsory pilotage make sense in today's world.

My noble friend Lord Swinfen mentioned the Goodwin Sands within the London pilotage district. They fall within part of the London pilotage district, which the London pilots accept does not need to be subject to compulsory pilotage any more. I also point out that compulsory pilotage is applicable only when a ship is entering or leaving a port within that district. Any ship passing up the Channel past the Goodwin Sands does not have to take a pilot. That point is stretching matters a little.

I accept, and the Bill makes clear, that CHAs should look very carefully, from the point of view of safety, at present compulsory pilotage areas even though in some areas they are drawn very wide. They must also look at them critically. I am sure that they will act responsibly in doing this as they do in the other cases of statutory responsibilities for the safety of shipping which they already exercise. I see no reason why they should need to seek harbour revision orders to reduce areas of compulsory pilotage from the limits which were set so long ago and in such different circumstances. If that is indeed the intention of the amendments I must ask noble Lords to reject them.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I have no intention of asking the House to vote on these amendments. As the noble Lord has said, they were discussed at the Committee stage. However, we felt that they were so important that they should be brought before the full House at Report stage.

The Minister says that it is questionable whether they meet the desired objective. The desired objective is to ensure that there are no changes in the areas of compulsory pilotage unless all factors are taken into consideration. I shall look carefully at what the Minister said because there is one further stage and there are subsequent amendments which may have some effect on this position. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Greenway moved Amendment No. 41: Page 6, line 13, after ("apply") insert ("to pleasure craft of less than fifty tons gross tonnage or").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in the past pleasure craft have always had the benefit of an exemption from compulsory pilotage by virtue of the specific exemption of pleasure yachts contained in Section 11(3)(b) of the Pilotage Act 1913 and, following the repeal of that provision, by Section 8 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979 by virtue of the general exemption for ships of less than 50 gross tonnes.

No such exemption is contained in Clause 5 of the current Bill, with the result that pleasure craft generally could be the subject of pilotage directions requiring compulsory pilotage. Not unnaturally the Royal Yachting Association is somewhat concerned about that. I acknowledge that most competent harbour authorities would not contemplate compulsory pilotage for any pleasure craft. Nevertheless the risk that some might is, I submit, a real one. There will be a great many competent harbour authorities, some of which are very small concerns, who will not necessarily see the sense in pleasure craft continuing to be exempt. For example, they may well be influenced by a need to spread costs, and in the absence of any objection procedure regarding the making of pilotage directions the Bill contains no restraint on an overzealous approach. It would in theory be possible, for example, for pilotage directions to be made for the simple purpose of trying to exclude pleasure craft from particular areas of the harbour such as a fairway. A requirement of compulsory pilotage in such areas would no doubt be quite effective for such a purpose.

The principle of exemption is not without precedent in the Bill as drafted. Already an exemption exists from the compulsory pilotage in Clause 5(3) for fishing vessels under 47.5 metres. I realise that the drafting of a new exemption for pleasure craft is to some extent complicated by differing views concerning the best method of applying a limit whether it be by length or by tonnage. I have therefore chosen 50 gross tonnes more as a discussion point. It would be open to amendment if necessary.

The Minister is himself a yachtsman and I trust that he will look favourably on this amendment.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I should like very strongly to support the amendment.

Lord Shackleton

There will be no need to recommit on this amendment! I thank the noble Lord for his apology.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and I reaffirm my apology to him. However, I am bound to say that I do not propose to accept this amendment and I therefore hope that the question of recommitment will not arise. I am a yachtsman, but I doubt whether there would be room for a pilot on board my boat in addition to my crew.

It is our view that harbour authorities, given their responsibilities for safety of navigation in their areas, should have the power to impose compulsory pilotage on such types, classes and size of vessels as they believe necessary in the interests of safety. I am therefore reluctant to accept this amendment, which would assume that there are no circumstances in which it would be reasonable for pleasure craft below a certain size to take a pilot. It is very unlikely that many harbour authorities will in practice decide to bring any pleasure craft (except possibly the very largest) under compulsory pilotage. However, the central principle of the Bill—and I think that my noble friend Lord Mottistone to some extent forgets himself in his support for the amendment—is that the decisions should be for the local harbour authorities to make, taking account of all the local circumstances. I am not certain that the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, will be happy with that reply.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I am certainly a little disappointed. The Royal Yachting Association will read what the Minister has said in reply to the amendment and will make up its mind as to how it wishes to proceed further. I should like to voice my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, who is commodore of your Lordships' yacht club.

I believe that there is a difficulty here. Speaking from the point of view of the pilots themselves, they do not want to have to go out and pilot yachts. They have better things to do. As the Minister said, maybe the harbour authorities can make up their minds about this matter. However, I think that something that has been incorporated in the legislation for a great many years should perhaps be looked upon a little more favourably. Nevertheless, I do not intend to press the matter in any way. I am grateful to the Minister for his reply and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 42: Page 6, line 20, at end insert— ("and (c) any other person appearing to it to have a substantial interest").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are still dealing with the question of compulsory pilotage under Clause 5. As well as dealing with Amendment No. 42, I should like to speak to the consequential amendment, Amendment No. 43. Clause 5(4) states: Before giving a pilotage direction a competent harbour authority shall consult—

  1. (a) the owners of vessels which customarily navigate in the area to which the proposed direction would apply; and
  2. (b) any other persons who carry on harbour operations within the harbour of the authority;
or, in either case, such persons as it considers to be representative of them".

In other words, owners of vessels and persons who may carry on other harbour activities within the harbour will be consulted but no public interests.

I believe that I used the words "public interest" in Committee. During the discussion reference was made to the possibility of local councils being bodies which should be consulted. I think that in Committee we were asked what interests local councils have in this matter. We are dealing with vessels which might be carrying hazardous cargoes and there may be other problems of that kind. Instead of using the words "public interest", Amendment No. 42 says that, in addition to the two groups of persons or bodies who shall be consulted, we should add a third group under a new paragraph (c): any other person appearing to it to have a substantial interest". By that we mean any other person appearing to a competent harbour authority to have a substantial interest. This seems to be a matter for the public good. I can see no reason why the Government should not accept the amendment because at the end of the day it will be the competent harbour authority which has to decide which other persons who have a substantial interest should be consulted.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has explained his amendments. They are, as he said, similar to amendments that were put down at Committee stage. Pilotage is one aspect of the controls which need to be exercised in harbours and their approaches to ensure the safe movement of shipping. The Bill recognises this by placing pilotage under the same authorities as these other controls. As I pointed out in Committee, when making directions about the movement of shipping in their ports, most port authorities are not under any formal obligation to consult anyone other than shipowners, who are the people who may be financially affected by such decisions and whose ships are directly at risk if the harbour authority makes the wrong decision.

Pilotage does not raise any issues of safety or otherwise which would justify a statutory obligation to consult more widely than is required in the case of directions about the movement of shipping. That is not to say that authorities may not consult more widely when they think it necessary; and they will have the benefit and expertise of the local pilots, although, as I said in Committee, I do not believe that a statutory obligation to consult them would be at all appropriate since they will be the CHA's employees or in a contractual relationship of some other kind to provide their services to the CHA. For these reasons I must urge your Lordships to reject the amendments.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am disappointed with the Minister's reply. I make it quite clear that this amendment has not been prompted by any particular interests, except those of the pilots. It is the pilots who are urging that there should be consultation with other persons who appear to have a substantial interest. It is not any conservation group, or other group of that kind; it is not any group of local authorities. It is the pilots who believe that it is desirable in the general interest that this should be agreed to. But in the light of what the Minister said and at this late hour, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 not moved.]

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 45: Page 6, line 29, at end insert— ("(6) Notice of a pilotage direction given under this section, or of the amendment or revocation of any such pilotage direction, shall be published in such manner as the Secretary of State may by regulations direct.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Pilotage Act 1983 requires at Section 15(4) that: Notice of any byelaw proposed to be submitted for confirmation under this section shall, before it is so submitted, be published in such manner as the Secretary of State directs". There are similar requirements concerning the publication of general directions affecting navigation made by harbour authorities. As drafted, the Bill makes no provision for the publication of a pilotage direction. It is clearly important that information about compulsory pilotage should be brought to the attention of those affected, not the least because failure to comply with a pilotage direction may under Clause 13 lead to criminal proceedings against the master. It would be an improvement to Clause 5 if we added an amendment on the lines of that which I propose. I beg to move.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I am delighted to be able to support an amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. He is quite right.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I should have supported this amendment if I could have been assured that the notice was to be given in a public manner and had the House agreed to my previous amendment so that when the notice was given in a public manner those bodies with a substantial interest could have done something about it. But it is a step in the right direction. I regret only that the other provisions which I have mentioned have not been taken up.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I should also like to support this amendment. Concerning the words of the the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, there is nothing to stop another body making representations.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I think for once we are all in agreement on an amendment, although I am not quite sure that our reasons for agreeing are exactly the same. I accept that masters of ships using a harbour should be made aware that a pilotage direction has been made by the local harbour authority, particularly in view of the offence provisions in the Bill for failing to comply with a pilotage direction.

However, I do not accept that it is necessary for the Secretary of State to make regulations setting out how such a notice is to be published. I would regard that—and perhaps other noble Lords, may think the same—as a little bureaucratic, and I believe that it would be best left to the discretion of the CHAs as to how best to make known the existence of a pilotage direction.

I cannot accept the amendment as drafted. However, I accept that CHAs should make known the existence of a pilotage direction, and I am prepared to bring forward a suitable amendment to cover this point at the next stage.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, before the Minister sits down, could he say whether the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, is correct: that if a notice is published in some form—about which the Minister is going to bring an amendment—any person, any body, would be eligible to make representations?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I do not think that that is the case. The only people who can make representations—I think I am right, and I shall check on this—are the shipowners, as detailed elsewhere in this clause. I shall look into that point.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, they are the ones to be consulted. The subsection refers to the bodies that he shall consult. It makes no reference to the bodies which may make representations.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I am indeed grateful to my noble friend for undertaking to bring something forward on these lines at the next stage, and I have pleasure in withdrawing this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 46: After Clause 5, insert the following new clause:

("Resolution of disputes concerning pilotage directions.

.—(1) Where any dispute arises between a competent harbour authority and those persons required to be consulted in accordance with section 5(4) above concerning the provisions of a pilotage direction any party to the dispute may appeal to the Sectetary of State.

(2) On an appeal under subsection (1) above the Secretary of State shall settle the dispute in such manner as he considers appropriate and may in particular direct that such provisions as are mentioned in that subsection shall not have effect or shall have effect subject to such modifications as he may specify.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, at Committee stage we had an amendment on these lines seeking a right of appeal. It was unfortunately not properly taken because there was a muddle over the grouping. I suppose that I should not have agreed to it. The main points I want to make—and I do not want to go over the same ground again—are at cols. 15 and 16 of the Official Report relating to Amendment No. 48.

However, I should like to make three points. The ability to impose compulsory pilotage inevitably involves the imposition also of an additional cost on port users. I would remind your Lordships that this tends to be forgotten. One of the features of this Bill is to make things more economical for operating trade from these ports.

The cost of pilotage for a small ship which has probably been accepted in the past could amount to 30 per cent. of the entire voyage revenue. The Bill gives the competent harbour authorities a monopoly of pilotage services. It is unreasonable to create a monopoly power without at least giving those affected by it a right of appeal against its possible abuse. For example, when we had the monopoly of British Telecom the Government wisely set up the Director General of Telecommunications, in effect acting as a court of appeal against British Telecom because it is a monopoly. It would not have been necessary if it was not a monopoly.

The Bill provides for a right of appeal in respect of pilotage charges, and in including such a right of appeal the Government have recognised that some control over the exercise of a competent harbour authority's responsibilities is needed. A similar control is needed over a CHA's power to impose compulsory pilotage, and that is all that this amendment seeks to achieve.

There is one point which I know will not satisfy my noble friend. He said at Committee stage that the Secretary of State cannot see himself as a court of appeal. I am afraid we have recast him as that, but we have done that because other Secretaries of State frequently are a court of appeal. For example, the Secretary of State for the Environment has an appeal position in relation to planning appeals. There are a whole host of others one could quote.

Therefore I hope that my noble friend will not press that point too hard. I fully accept that the way I have worded the amendment may be wrong. I come back to him—though he indicated he would not like it—by saying that perhaps this arbitration procedure, if it becomes a bit more solid than temporary (and I understand why he wants it to be temporary at this stage) may be a body—if the Secretary of State does not want to act as a court of appeal—that could take this on. Basically it is not fair or economical in the trading sense for shipowners to have to pay compulsory pilotage in all circumstances without some way of appealing against it, if that is necessary. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I fear that this time I can only reinforce the comments that I made during debate at Committee on a similar amendment which my noble friend put down. While I agree this amendment is more limited in that it restricts the right to appeal to those parties which the CHAs are required to consult under Clause 5(4), I am still not convinced that an appeal to the Secretary of State on decisions which depend on local circumstances is appropriate. The CHAs will have to consult port users before making a pilotage direction and that will give the opportunity for them to make representations. In the nature of things, a CHA will be bound to give careful consideration to the views of its customers. Otherwise it could be in danger of losing those customers. But I consider that to give my right honourable friend the Secretary of State a power to override the decisions of the CHAs in this area would represent a substantial derogation from the responsibility of the CHAs for decisions on pilotage needs in their harbours, which, as I can only reaffirm, it is the intention of this Bill to place fairly and squarely on their shoulders. Therefore I am afraid that I cannot be as friendly as I have been to my noble friend's previous amendments.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, it is late and I shall not pursue this point. I see a germ of a way through for this. I can see in the long term what my noble friend is saying. There may be a stage when the new CHAs do not act responsibly enough and they will have to learn by losing trade if they make a mistake. The temporary arbitration idea might be a solution. I might come back on Third Reading with something along those lines; but at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Pilotage exemption certificates]:

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 47: Page 6, line 31, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in considering Amendment No. 47, it will be helpful if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 48, 51 and 52. It will be noted that Amendment No. 47 has a wide measure of support. We are dealing now with Clause 6 covering pilotage exemption certificates. Paraphrasing subsection (1) it states that the CHA shall on application grant a pilotage exemption certificate to a master or first mate. We believe that the word "shall" should be substituted by "may".

On Amendment No. 48, as the clause is written, the CHA will not be able to refuse the issue of a pilotage exemption certificate, for whatever reason, provided it is satisfied as to an applicant's skill, experience and local knowledge. We believe that having regard to the sometimes suspect insular régimes on ships it is essential to be able to have special regard to vessels containing noxious cargoes and the effects of large vessels navigating in restricted channels. The acceptance by the Minister, when he brought forward an amendment to Clause 2 dealing with cargoes conveying dangerous and noxious substances, makes it all the more important that we should give consideration to the question of granting exemption certificates.

Amendment No. 51 suggests that the criteria for examination should be the same for authorised pilots as for those to be granted pilotage exemption certificates. If my memory serves me correctly, this matter was raised at Committee stage and we could not see why the Minister did not accept that there should be no difference whatever in the criteria for granting a certificate to the master or the first mate to those granted to authorised pilots. Amendment No. 52 states that a holder of a pilotage exemption certificate may be in the position of not being experienced in the handling of large vessels of different characteristics and which will have lower margins of safety, and therefore should not be automatically entitled to a certificate for them. Therefore, we are saying that any certificate granted to a master or mate should be for the same class of vessel, not necessarily for any class of vessel.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, these four amendments all water down the provisions of this clause. As drafted, the competent harbour authorities shall grant a pilotage certificate to masters and first mates who can satisfy the competent harbour authority of their ability to navigate their own vessel without having to take a pilot. All these amendments will weaken the requirement to issue certificates and put unnecessary obstacles in the way of candidates.

I could produce arguments against each and every one of them but I am not going to waste your Lordships' time doing that. It is a fundamentally faulty, narrowing, restrictive set of amendments which I hope your Lordships will reject.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, with regard to Amendment No. 48, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, made it plain that what he had in mind was dangerous cargoes. When your Lordships were discussing this matter in Committee, there was general agreement that dangerous cargoes should be specifically dealt with. I ventured to express doubts as to whether it was necessary to amend both Clause 6 and Clause 2. The noble Lord the Minister brought forward Amendment No. 3 to Clause 2 in order to meet the points that had been made. I therefore wonder whether, in view of Amendment No. 3 which is now part of the Bill, we need Amendment No. 48 at all.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, my name is to Amendment No. 47 basically because it ties in with my Amendment No. 53. I shall not in fact be moving that as I shall be accepting my noble friend's Amendment No. 49 and Amendment No. 50, or agreeing with him on them.

However, I wonder whether Amendment No. 48 does not tie in with my noble friend's Amendment No. 3 to Clause 3 which deals with the question of pilots, not masters of vessels, who have exemption certificates. I do not think that the two are the same. I feel that we should be particularly careful of vessels where the master has an exemption certificate, who do not normally carry dangerous cargoes but may do on one or two odd occasions. This point may cover that. It is a safety point, and I think that Amendment No. 48 certainly has some value.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I supported the feeling behind these amendments at Committee stage. On what has been said now, my noble and learned friend may well be right in that the Government's commitment to writing in dangerous cargoes to Clause 2 of the Bill may well have implications here. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said that he felt that the situation was adequately covered in the Bill as drafted; but I think that Lord Underhill's Amendment No. 52 has some bearing. It is important that if a master or mate is granted an exemption certificate for a certain class of ship—say, for instance, an ordinary cargo ship—and then that master happens to be transferred to a high-sided car carrier, which suffers from the problem called windage (a major consideration in pilotage today) he should not necessarily retain that exemption certificate. I believe there is some merit in that amendment.

10 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, Clause 6(1) requires those CHAs which adopt régimes of compulsory pilotage to issue pilotage exemption certificates to any person who can meet the required standards. I said during the debate in Committee that the only grounds on which we think a CHA should be entitled to refuse to issue a certificate are those relating to an individual's competence, experience and local knowledge. I reaffirm that this evening.

As to allowing CHAs to have discretion in issuing certificates to vessels carrying dangerous cargoes, I do not agree that a CHA should be allowed to restrict the issue of certificates for such vessels since the cargo has little bearing on the competence of the master to navigate his vessel.

However, I said during Committee that I accepted that there might be cases where the combination of hazardous cargoes, bad weather conditions and difficult navigational circumstances was such that a CHA might believe that no certificates could safely be issued. Clause 6(3) allows the Secretary of State to exempt such CHAs from the normal obligation to issue such certificates. But such cases will be exceptional and I am sure that the general rule must be that certificates are to be issued. To allow them to be withheld on any grounds other than the competence of the master or mate involved means that unnecessary costs have to be borne by shipping, as my noble friend Lord Mottistone reminded us.

As your Lordships are aware, a Government amendment which was accepted earlier today means that CHAs will now have a duty, when considering under Clause 2 what pilotage services need to be provided in the harbour and approaches and whether pilotage should be compulsory in those areas, to have particular regard to the hazards involved in the carriage by ship of dangerous goods or harmful substances. I think all your Lordships are agreed that that was a good amendment.

Having decided that pilotage should be compulsory, a CHA is required under Clause 5 to issue a pilotage direction specifying the ships, areas and circumstances to which compulsory pilotage will apply. The CHA may apply a direction to all ships or to all ships of a certain description, and this will allow a CHA to take into account considerations such as whether a vessel is carrying passengers or hazardous cargoes.

Having decided which vessels are to be subject to compulsory pilotage, the next step required under Clause 13 is that such ships shall be under the pilotage of an authorised pilot or under the pilotage of a master or first mate possessing a pilotage exemption certificate. Both authorised pilots and pilot exemption certificate-holders must have satisfied the CHA that they are competent to pilot vessels within its harbour, and I believe it would be wrong to allow a CHA further discretion to restrict the issue of certificates for certain vessels for reasons unconnected with the applicant's skill and experience.

An important point is that the fact that a vessel is carrying hazardous cargo makes a master with a pilotage exemption certificate no less capable of piloting his vessel in just the same way as it makes a pilot no less capable of piloting a vessel. My noble friend Lord Swinfen, I thought, carried his imagination to the limit when he said that perhaps somebody who had a pilotage exemption certificate would once in a while carry a dangerous cargo and he might have earned that pilotage exemption certificate by carrying passengers. I hope that even though my noble friend is concerned about dangerous cargoes, he would not wish to be any less concerned about the carriage of passengers.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, said that of course high-sided car carriers, for instance, are particularly likely to carry a lot of windage, but the Bill as drafted says that a pilotage exemption certificate must apply to the same sort of vessel. That was something which we introduced in Committee. I remain unconvinced that the qualifications for pilotage exemption certificates should invariably be the same as those for authorised pilots. On some matters qualifications to be required from pilots and masters will be the same, but there is no reason why this should always be so. Authorised pilots will be required to handle a variety of sizes and types of vessels even within a certain class. Every vessel has different handling characteristics.

The CHA will wish to satisfy itself that a candidate for authorisation has sufficient experience on a wide number of vessels. On the other hand, a pilotage exemption certificate relates only to a master's or first mate's ability to navigate his vessel within the CHA's area. It is therefore likely that the qualifications to be met by authorised pilots will be more stringent or more extensive. Under Clause 6(2), the CHA is only prevented from imposing more onerous requirements on certificate holders than those laid down for authorised pilots.

As to Amendment No. 52 to remove subsection (2)(a), this subsection would prevent a CHA imposing unreasonable requirements on certificate holders which had little to do with the difficulties and dangers of navigation in its area. I cannot see that there is any case at all for dispensing with this subsection. To open the possibility that requirements might be imposed which are not related to the difficulties and dangers of navigation seems quite unnecessary and could well lead to unnecessary costs having to be borne by shipping. Therefore, I must ask the noble Lord to take account of my answer. I hope that he will not feel the need to press the amendment.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, the Minister of course has had excellent advice from his Department, but some points still need to be made. First, there was general welcome for Amendment No. 3 to Clause 2, but that related to the provision of pilotage services, proposing that they should take account of hazardous cargoes. There was pressure in Committee. Here we are dealing with the granting of exemption certificates. I should think that there would be a strong legal argument as to whether the question of exemption certificates and the issue of them come under the duty of the provision of pilotage services. We are introducing these amendments to be thoroughly satisfied with the position.

The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said that this weakens the position—weakens the position of whom?

Lord Mottistone

Of the competent masters of ships.

Lord Underhill

I asked that question because there was emphasis on costs in the answer of the Minister. From our standpoint, this strengthens the position of authorised pilots. It ensures that those granted exemption certificates—the master or chief mate—shall be in exactly the same position as authorised pilots. I am sorry that the Minister cannot agree. The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, accepted that we are dealing here with exemption certificates and not services.

As to Amendment No. 51, I cannot possibly see why the criteria for examination and qualification should not be the same for those granted pilotage exemption certificates as for authorised pilots. I am advised by our own pilots that they too cannot understand this. That is the reason for the amendment.

The Minister has rejected all the amendments. At ten-past ten I do not think I can do other than beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 49: Page 6, line 35, after ("impose") insert ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 49, and at the same time I shall speak also to Amendment No. 50. I agreed at Committee stage to consider an amendment to make explicit provision about competence in English of candidates for pilotage exemption certificates. These amendments place a specific requirement on CHAs to satisfy themselves that a candidate for a pilotage exemption certificate had adequate knowledge of the English language. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, perhaps I may say how much I welcome these two amendments.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I also spoke on this matter and I am most grateful to the Minister for bringing forward this amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 50: Page 6, line 38, at end insert ("; and (b) in any case where it appears to the authority to be necessary in the interests of safety, that his knowledge of English is sufficient for that purpose.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 51 to 53 not moved.]

Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 54: Page 6, line 49, at end insert ("or may during such period as aforesaid, if he is satisfied as aforesaid, suspend the operation of any pilotage exemption certificate already granted in respect of the harbour or part of the harbour in question.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this amendment raises a point that I mentioned at the Committee stage. Under subsection (3) the Secretary of State may, by reason of unusual hazards involved in shipping movement within a harbour, give directions that there shall be no issue of exemption certificates for such periods not exceeding three years as he may specify.

At the Committee stage, owing to the reference to unusual hazards and to the time limit, I read that as meaning fortuitous hazards and I gave as an example a wreck which had not yet been shifted, or a normally dredged channel which was for some reason awaiting a dredger which was not available, where the local pilot would know the situation but a visiting master or mate in possession of an exemption certificate would not know the local situation of the temporary hazard.

That construction was not contradicted at Committee stage, but recently the noble Lord the Minister has written to me saying that what is in mind in this subsection is a permanent hazard of navigation in some particular port, and I accept that. Nevertheless, it seems that there ought to be consideration, now that we are amending the pilotage law after a lapse of 70 years, whether there should be a suspension in the case of the type of hazard that I mentioned.

Therefore notwithstanding the noble Lord's letter, for which I am most grateful, I have put down for your Lordships' consideration Amendment No. 54 and Amendment No. 55, which is really just a means of carrying it out. I think everything will depend on whether the Minister has any evidence either way as to whether the sort of unusual hazard which I mentioned might lead to danger in navigation, so that any exemption certificate which had already been issued should be suspended, and whether the harbour authority should have a duty to notify the holder of the certificate of such suspension. It may also be that there will be exemption certificates in relation to some of the harbours to which the Minister referred in his letter. If so, some suspension procedure might be called for. I beg to move.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for having moved this amendment and for his thanks to me for having written to him earlier on the subject. Clause 6(3) is intended to deal with the possibility that in a few places there may be a case arising from the general circumstances of the port for believing that no certificate should be issued. It is not envisaged that the clause will be used in response to short-term changes in the navigational circumstances, which we believe a master holding a pilotage exemption certificate should be as capable of coping with as an authorised pilot.

However, the amendments of the noble and learned Lord have pointed to a gap in the Bill as drafted. Where the Secretary of State does make the direction under Clause 6(3), what happens to any certificates which have already been issued? The point may not be of great practical significance as it is likely that in any port where a case for a direction under Clause 6(3) can be made, such as Sullom Voe, no pilotage exemption certificates have in fact been issued. However, the Bill does need to cover the point and I should like to take it away for further consideration.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, it only remains for me to thank the Minister for his words. I am entirely content that he should take the point away and consider it. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 55 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Pilotage charges]:

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 56: Page 7, line 47, after ("may") insert (", subject to section 27(6) below,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 56 is a paving amendment to Amendment No. 103; I shall speak to them both. Shipowners believe that the only cost that a certificate holder who undertakes his own pilotage should finance is the administrative cost associated with the issue, alteration or renewal of the certificate.

At Committee stage I put down Amendment No. 63, cols. 103 to 106 of the Official Report, Public Bill Committee, which sought the deletion of Clause 8(3) for that reason. It is all part of the business of trying to make shipping cost-effective and competitive. Your Lordships need constantly to remember that we are losing our merchant fleet at far too fast a rate because we cannot compete. Any penny we save is worth it. During the debate at Committee stage, my noble friend said, at col. 105 of the Official Report, Public Bill Committee, there is nothing in the Bill which forces a competent harbour authority to make these charges. It is an option open to it … it might need only to be transitional while the costs involved in implementing this legislation are taken forward. After that they could perhaps drop pilotage charges. But it is important, at this stage anyway, that they should be allowed to make charges for certificates.".

The point of Amendment No. 103 is to take up that very aspect and write it into the Bill. The amendment proposed specifies that the CHA could charge for the use of a certificate, but only so as to assist in meeting any cost arising from the reorganisation of pilotage effected in the pursuance of the Bill. Until the Bill is enacted and a new regime is in place, it is not possible to predict whether certificate holders have benefited from reorganisation. Some masters who have not been able to obtain certificates under the existing legislation may succeed in doing so under the new arrangements. They will have benefited and might therefore be expected to contribute to financing the change.

We have therefore proposed a compromise based entirely on what my noble friend had to say, and I hope that he will feel that he can go some way to accepting the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I must oppose the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, as I am advised that these amendments will restrict a CHA's ability to charge pilotage exemption certificate holders so as to recover costs incurred for the winding up of the present pilotage organisation. They will not be able to make charges in order to recover some of the costs of an ongoing pilotage operation from which the pilotage exemption certificate holders benefit. That is a very important point. We shall find that there will be discrimination against those ships using the services of a pilot and in that respect the proper management of a pilotage service will be inhibited. I have been advised on these matters and my advice seems to be completely contrary to the views, whether advised or otherwise, that the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, expressed. I hope that the Minister will agree with my objection.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, on this point. It is quite proper that a charge should be made for exemption certificates to help the general administration costs of pilotage. After all, that is done on the Continent today and I see no reason why it should not be done here as well.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, when we discussed this matter in Committee I mentioned the reasons why, in the short term, CHAs should have the option of requiring a contribution from certificate holders. Some mariners, particularly those operating in ports where there have previously been restrictions on the issue of certificates, will be among the most direct beneficiaries of pilotage reorganisation and can reasonably be required to pay towards the costs associated with that reorganisation. I am glad that my noble friend has recognised this in tabling his amendment. But, as I also explained in Committee, whatever the short-term position, I believe there is also a case for allowing a CHA the option of making such charges in the long term to help meet the costs of the pilotage service in the port.

There may be some ports where it is reasonable for ferry traffic to be charged in this way, so that those needing to take a pilot, whether occasional visitors or the ferry operators on occasion, do not find themselves facing a prohibitive charge. There is, as I said, the general benefit to safety which a pilotage service brings to a port and from which as regular users the certificate holders benefit considerably.

I also mentioned the provision for appeal to the Secretary of State on such charges. That will prevent abuse of the system. That final sentence is, I am afraid, on this occasion the only comfort that I can give to my noble friend.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I thank my noble friend. I am terribly disappointed when I hear the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Greenway, making speeches to the effect that we must have money coming into the ports. The ports do not go away but the shipping is disappearing. The priorities of your Lordships in this discussion are out of step with what is happening to this country. I think it is very sad. I also think it is sad that my noble friend could not take this a little further than he was able to, but it being late I shall not press the point at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 [Use of agents and joint arrangements]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 57: Page 8, line 36, leave out ("(4)") and insert ("(Employment etc. of authorised pilots)(2)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 58: Page 8, line 36, leave out ("or 6(1) above") and insert ("6(1) above or section 25").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have been caught unaware by this amendment and I frankly admit it. I had not noticed that I was down to speak to it. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, would be prepared to move it in my stead.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, before noble Lords decide who is to move the amendment, perhaps I may mention that in principle I am prepared to accept it except that I feel there is a printing error in it. I think that noble Lords are referring to Section 26 rather than Section 25. I pointed that out to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, earlier, but I am afraid that it has not been corrected on the Marshalled List. If the amendment refers to Section 26, I am prepared to accept it.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 58, which I can modify so that it reads "section 26" instead of "section 25". Will that be in order?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I am not sure where we are. Has the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, moved a manuscript amendment to put his amendment in order? A manuscript amendment may be moved on Report; otherwise surely the amendment that is put from the Woolsack should be that which is printed.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, if it will make the noble and learned Lord any happier, I shall be very happy to make a manuscript amendment which will read: Page 8, line 36, leave out ("or 6(1) above") and insert ("6(1) above or section 26").

The Deputy Speaker (Earl Cathcart)

My Lords, it is for the House, with leave, to accept the amendment in that form. I thought that the House had accepted it. I ask again: will the House accept this as a verbal manuscript amendment? That is agreed.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal moved the following manuscript amendment: Page 8, line 36, leave out ("or 6(1) above") and insert ("6(1) above or section 26")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 10 [Information and directions as to joint arrangements]:

The Deputy Speaker

My Lords, in calling Amendment No. 59 I should advise your Lordships that if that amendment is agreeed I cannot call Amendment No. 60.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 59: Page 9, line 18, leave out ("may require any of") and insert ("shall require all").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that we can agree on this amendment because it will be noted that Amendment No. 60, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, is exactly the same as mine except that my amendment inserts the words "shall require all" whereas that of the noble Lord inserts only "shall require".

This point was discussed during the Committee stage of the Bill and we thought it important to put it forward again. It deals with the supply of information from CHAs. Where information is required under Clause 10 we consider that all the relevant CHAs should be asked to supply it and it should not merely be left open for one or other of them to do so. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will accept this amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, will explain why he has tabled his Amendment No. 60 (which has also been linked with Amendments Nos. 61 and 63 in his name) in which instead of asking for "information" he prefers to use the word "particulars". Obviously he will tell the House why he wishes to do that. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I am perfectly happy to accept or agree to Amendment No. 59, which will mean, as the Deputy Speaker said, that Amendment No. 60 cannot be moved. I do not honestly think that Amendment No. 63 is all that important. It is simply that the word "particulars" strikes me as being better than "information". The House may disagree.

As the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, explained, this discussion is a re-run of the debate that we had at Committee stage to make competent harbour authorities operating in the same estuary—or, as is the case in Manchester and Liverpool, on the same canal—operate together. The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, said earlier that it was important to bear in mind the cost of shipping. This amendment bears that cost in mind, because it will end up with a reduction in the cost of pilotage if these areas, which are all approached by the same area of water, are operated with one large pilotage team that is capable of being moved hither and thither as, where and when required. It is wasteful to have pilots sitting at Ramsgate, for instance, doing nothing, while all the traffic is coming in from the North Sea and only pilots from Harwich are operating. Nowadays it is possible to see from where the traffic is coming and to move pilots from point A to point B to meet it. That strikes me as common sense.

I know that the Bill, as drafted, gives the power to the Minister. The Minister must take the matter in hand and insist that competent harbour authorities which are operating against one another (they are all after the same trade) use the cheapest possible method of running the pilots for the benefit of the shipping industry. The Bill's prime object is to reduce costs to the shipping industry.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I listened carefully to the debate on these amendments when they were brought forward in Committee. I have subsequently read the proceedings again several times. I remain convinced that it would be wrong to accept them. To do so would be likely to compel the Secretary of State to impose an unnecessary burden on a number of harbour authorities. In particular, there are likely to be a number of authorities falling within the definition in Clause 10(1) where there is unlikely to be any practical problem about the future organisation of pilotage. It is a central principle of the Bill that decisons about what pilotage services are needed are local matters which should be decided locally by CHAs in the light of their experience. To accept these amendments would involve the Secretary of State in a number of decisions which should be made locally. We do not want to reproduce the faults of the present system in which far too many local decisions are referred upwards to be taken at national level.

Clause 10 is intended very much as a reserve power to enable the Secretary of State to ensure that, in cases where decisions taken by a CHA may affect the interests of other CHAs or operators in the area, the arrangements made take proper account of the interests of those authorities and operators. We expect that it will in most cases be unnecessary for the Secretary of State to exercise this power and that CHAs will take proper account of the interests of other authorities and operators.

Nevertheless, I should make it clear, and perhaps I did not do so during the debate at Committee stage, that the Secretary of State recognises the importance of ensuring that suitable arrangements are made in the major estuaries and that he will accordingly require information under this clause of the CHAs in, for example, the present London District and in the Mersey, the Humber and the Severn Estuaries. I hope that that gives some assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, and to my noble friend Lord Swinfen.

I come now to Amendments Nos. 61 and 63. I envisage that when the Secretary of State requires an authority to provide him with information under Clause 10 he will have a pretty clear idea as to the issues he is interested in in each case, and they are likely to vary from one case to another. That being so, it will make sense for him to specify what information he requires; otherwise, as might happen under the amendments brought forward by my noble friend, he could well find himself receiving a good deal of information which was of no interest to him but which an authority might have gone to a good deal of time, trouble and expense to prepare. At the same time he might find the issues which concerned him not being properly dealt with. I think that it is essential that the Secretary of State should be in a position to specify what he wants to have, and I must ask my noble friend to withdraw the amendments.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I tried to be brief when I moved the amendment. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, for further explaining it. In Clause 10 four categories are mentioned where there might be joint arrangements. After detailing the four categories the clause states: the Secretary of State may require any of the authorities, or, in the case of paragraph (c) or (d) above, the authority concerned". The amendment therefore in effect deals only with paragraphs (a) and (b).

Clause 10(1)(a) says: Where the harbours of two or more competent harbour authorities fall wholly or partly within a single former pilotage district". Paragraph (b) says: access for ships to the harbour of a competent harbour authority is customarily available through the harbour of another competent harbour authority". The point of my amendment is this. If we are going to ask for information—and I recognise that the Secretary of State will want to have information—then he should obtain it from all the authorities concerned and not just from one of them.

I must again ask the Minister to read very carefully what has been said on this matter and to see whether or not he himself feels it desirable to tighten up this provision when we come to the next stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 not moved.]

Viscount Long

My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before eleven o'clock.