HL Deb 05 March 1987 vol 485 cc776-812

7.5 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I have to notify the House that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, having been informed of the purport of the Pilotage Bill, has consented to place his interest as Duke of Cornwall, so far as it is affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, that the Bill be now read a third time.—(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)

Clause 3 [Authorisation of pilots]:

[Amendment No. 1 not moved.]

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, in the temporary absence of my noble friend I suppose that I must move Amendment No. 2 on his behalf. I am sorry—it is Lord Swinfen's amendment.

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 4, line 43, at end insert— ("( ) When suspending or revoking an authorisation under subsection (5) (c) or (d) above, a competent harbour authority shall give a written certificate to any pilot affected stating the competent harbour authority for which the pilot had been authorised and the period or periods of authorisation and that the authorisation was revoked under subsection (5) (c) or (d) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment happens to be mine! I should be delighted to get any support that the Opposition can give me for this amendment, because I am sure noble Lords on those Benches agree with me that it is an excellent amendment.

This amendment is designed to ensure that pilots who are dismissed from their posts through no fault of their own retain their professional qualifications. Let us look for a moment at the position of, for example, a solicitor who for a number of years has been employed in a practice in a small town where there has been a sizeable industrial and commercial element. Let us suppose that for normal commercial reasons that element of business disappears because the business in the town runs down and that that country town solicitor's practice finds that it no longer needs the same number of solicitors and decides to get rid of a number of them. On being dismissed from that solicitor's practice, those solicitors do not lose their qualifications.

As the Bill is now written, in my understanding a pilot who is dismissed by virtue of Clause 4(5) (c) and (d)—which are the relevant parts of the Bill that we are discussing—would lose his qualification upon being dismissed. I think it is important for pilots to keep their qualification with them when they move. It may be that, being surplus to requirements in one place (say Southampton) they feel that they should move to another (say Milford Haven or any other competent harbour authority) and endeavour to obtain a pilotage job there. Why should they not have a certificate of qualification to show to their potential employer whom they approach to say that they have been employed as pilots, that they are competent to do the job and that they are experienced in handling the various ships that have been using the port from which they come? The amendment does not say that they would not need local training in local conditions. Everyone understands that point.

I feel that this is an important point that should be taken on board by the Minister in this Bill. So far as I understand, it would not cost the competent harbour authority anything apart from the odd sheet of paper to put through a typewriter or, if it wanted to be more generous, some nicer form of certificate. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I hope that the Minister will feel able to accept this amendment, which has been so well explained by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen. The amendment does not go as far as we would like it to go but I think that the points he raised are very sound, particularly as he is dealing with persons whose authorisation is suspended or revoked under paragraphs (c) and (d). It has nothing to do with misconduct or anything of that kind but is purely owing to the numbers being in excess of requirements. I hope that the Minister will find it possible to accept this amendment.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I cannot accept the amendment as drafted, but I accept the principle of it, for which my noble friend has made a good case. As he said, it would not cost a CHA much. I fear that there are certain defects in the drafting, but I give my noble friend an undertaking that the Government will introduce an amendment along these lines in another place.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that answer. I am happy to accept his undertaking that the Government will bring forward a better drafted amendment in another place. I am not surprised that the drafting is defective, as it is mine. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.15 p.m.

Clause 4 [Employment etc. of authorised pilots]:

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 5, line 18, leave out ("the following provisions of this section") and insert ("subsection (2) below").

The noble Lord said:. My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 5 and 6. The purpose of Amendment No. 3 is to make it clear beyond any doubt that the Government's commitment to provide fair and equitable treatment to continuing pilots in respect of their right to decide their employment status is honoured. That would be in accordance with point 12 of the Government's White Paper of November 1986. I shall not weary the House by reading it. It gives certain undertakings. The purpose of Amendment No. 3 is to endeavour to make it clear that the Government adhere to and will take steps to carry out the undertakings given there.

With regard to Amendment No. 5, which is designed to leave out subsection (5), I had better read the subsection: A competent harbour authority may refuse to authorise any person who is not willing to provide his services as a pilot in accordance with such arrangements as the authority considers appropriate under subsection (1) above.

I must refer to one or two quotations from the Report stage. The Minister said: 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 appropri-ate 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 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".—[0fficial Report, 12/2/87; col. 808.]

Taken on its own, that appears to be a clear explanation of the inter-relationship between subsections (1) and (5). First, pilots will have no choice in whether they wish to be employed or self-employed in the new CHA regime. Secondly, such a choice will be that of the CHA. Further, a CHA will decide, in law, without a requirement for negotiation and agreement.

The effect of the first point is to negate the statement made by the then Secretary of State, Mr. Nicholas Ridley, in the other place on 25th March 1986, where, in reply to recommendation 16 of the Fifth Report of the Transport Committee, dealing with marine pilotage he said that the Government noted the committee's support for a change in employed status for pilots. The Government also recognised that there was concern about the position of self-employed pilots under the new arrangements. It was therefore envisaged that the legislation would oblige harbour authorities to offer employment to pilots whose services they required unless alternative arrangements on some other basis had been agreed between the authority and the pilots. The British Ports Association had indicated that it would be prepared to consider, with representatives of the pilots, any proposals which the department might put forward for joint discussions on such matters. Presumably that was the basis for the inclusion in the Bill of Clause 4(2), to which I had better refer. It states: A competent harbour authority shall offer to employ under a contract of employment any person it authorises under section 3 above ("the new pilot") unless—

  1. (a) a majority of the relevant licence holders have agreed during the period beginning six months and ending three months before the appointed day that this subsection shall not apply; or
  2. (b) a majority of the relevant authorised pilots have agreed on or after that day that this subsection shall not apply."

According to the Minister's statement (col. 808), to which I have referred, the effect of this subsection appears to us to be totally negated. In fairness to the Minister, following that quotation, he said: These subsections are subject to the provisions in subsections (2) to (4) which will allow other 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 options 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 am sure that noble Lords will find that as confusing as I do, because the various statements seem to conflict one with the other. Earlier the Minister stated at col. 755: The main safeguard for pilots is that they can require a CHA to offer employment. As I said when speaking to Amendment No. 30, we believe that this goes a long way to correcting any confusions which might have occurred as to whether self-employment was a viable option in the Bill. I think it goes a long way in that direction.

The Minister has frequently stated the opposite; for example we find that at col. 811 he said: 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.".

Unfortunately, the Minister's statement finished at that stage because there was an intervention from somewhere, and so we do not know what he intended to say to finish that paragraph.

Understandably, the pilots are baffled about the position. I speak to their representative fairly regularly. It appears from our debates that many noble Lords are similarly unclear about the position. A clear statement from the Minister on the inter-relationship and priority standing of subsections (1) and (2) would be appreciated. I hope that the Minister can give that this evening.

One point needs clarification, but in some ways such clarification seems a little irrelevant because, both in legal and pragmatic terms, the nature of subsection (5) makes any option meaningless in that CHAs will, through primary legislation, be able to impose their own terms. That will also override the intention of Clause 5 headed: Temporary procedure for resolving disputes as to terms of employment

to which the Minister referred (col. 813) and said: 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.

It is my view and that of the representatives of pilots that unless subsection (5) is removed, this is demonstrably a commitment which cannot be fulfilled. With those fairly lengthy remarks, I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I wish to speak, as I have spoken before, on the present subsection (5). However, it might be more convenient if the Minister first dealt with the reasons why he prefers his Amendment No. 6 to the noble Lord's Amendment No. 5. I am entirely in his hands in that respect.

It seems to me, as I share the bafflement that the noble Lord has expressed, that it would help if we know which way the Minister's mind is working. Quite obviously, he has come a considerable way to meet our bafflement, or to clear our minds.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I should like very warmly to support the amendment so clearly proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. The whole of Clause 4 has always puzzled me. It appears to be offering on the one hand and taking away with the other. I am reminded of a personal experience some years ago when I was visiting the post of Odessa. I was at that time interested in port management. I was very kindly invited to tour the port. It was a very hot day. At the outset the interpreter asked whether I should like to travel by water or by land. In view of the weather, I said that I should like to go by water. There was the briefest pause and the interpreter said, "We shall go by land". Quite clearly I had made the wrong choice.

It seems to me that the pilots are put in the same position here. They are in effect asked whether they would like to have—what is it called officially?—direct employment or self-employment. If they take self-employment, they come to subsection (5) which states that they cannot have it if the port authority decides on direct employment.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I gather that the Minister prefers to speak after we have all said what there is to say on these amendments. As noble Lords know, I have always been completely baffled by subsection (5). I have taken the view that it takes away the choice apparently given to pilots earlier. The Minister has explained to me a number of times that subsection (5) operates only to allow a competent harbour authority to refuse to authorise if the pilots refuse both a contract of employment and a contract for services. I was unable to understand that, and, in the end, the noble Lord said that he was paraphrasing. I remain in the state that theologians call invincible ignorance. I was gratified to find that, although the same theologians said that it was a deplorable condition, it did not necessarily involve eternal damnation.

I do not mind whether Amendment No. 5 or Amendment No. 6 is the amendment made to the Bill. In my view, either makes a reality of the choice which was claimed to be given to the pilots: to choose either a contract of employment or a contract for services. I should be quite content to accept Amendment No. 6 which meets the point that has troubled all of us all along. When I say "all of us" I except the Minister who has been quite untroubled.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I know that this subsection has caused some confusion to your Lordships. We have had considerable debate in Committee and on Report on amendments concern-ing it. Amendment No. 5, put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, would remove the subsection altogether. I appreciate that there has been some concern that the subsection would have the effect of undermining the earlier provisions in the clause, in particular those relating to the pilot's right to be offered employment.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

The Minister said "employment". Did he not mean self-employment?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

I meant "employment". As I explained on Report, on the amendment which transferred this subsection to a new clause, the intention of subsection (5) is simply to make clear that, whatever arrangements have been decided upon for a CHA's area, a CHA is under no obligation to authorise any person who is not willing to serve as a pilot under those arrangements whether they involve employment by the CHA, self-employment or arrangements with an agent. What those arrangements are will, of course, be subject to the provision in subsection (2).

On Report, there was some criticism of the wording of subsection (5) in which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, saw difficulties. They have repeated those criticisms this evening. The principal concern was about the inter-relationship between subsection (5) and the earlier subsections of the clause. I promised to look again at the wording. Having done so, I accept that the use of the words, such arrangements as the authority considers appropriate in subsection (5) could be misleading. It would be possible for a CHA to consider that the appropriate arrangement was, say, one based on self-employment and yet be obliged to offer employment to local pilots if the pilots had not decided otherwise in accordance with subsection (2).

I hope that my Amendment No. 6, to which I now speak, will make it clearer that the arrangements referred to in subsection (5) are the general arrange-ments finally decided for the harbour which will be those that the CHA considers appropriate under subsection (1), subject to the provisions of subsection (2) requiring an offer of employment to be made unless the pilots have decided otherwise. I hope that this will dispel any suspicions that subsection (5) in some way goes against the provisions in the earlier part of the clause.

As I understand it, the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, are alternative ways of dealing with the matter. His Amendment No. 5 would remove the subsection altogether. However, I believe that the subsection should remain in order to make clear that a CHA is not obliged to authorise anyone who is not prepared to serve under whatever arrangements are decided upon for the harbour.

The noble Lord's Amendment No. 3 would make it clear that subsection (5) does not affect the decision about arrangements. These are to be determined under Clause 4(1) and (2), and not under Clause 4(5). Therefore I am happy to accept the noble Lord's Amendment No. 3 in order to put this beyond doubt.

I hope that following what I have said noble Lords are clearer about this and that they will therefore agree to my Amendment No. 6. I have accepted Amendment No. 3 of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I am sure that pilots will be very relieved that the Minister has agreed to accept Amendment No. 3 because they were naturally concerned that the choice should remain theirs. What troubles me is that the Minister says that subsection (5) is needed to make something clear. Yet the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, speaking with all the authority of a judge, says he does not find the meaning clear at all.

We, in the House of the Lords, are about to bid farewell to this Bill. However, I am rather unhappy about letting the matter pass with such doubts being expressed in respect of an important part of this legislation. When I heard the Minister saying that he was making it clear, I wondered what was the point of being authorised if there is no prospect of being offered a job on either an employed or self-employed basis. I am not sure that "making clear" is the name of the game that we are in at the moment, and that distresses me very much. I do not wish to appear to be ungracious when I know that the noble Lord is doing his best.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to thank the Minister, who has met the point generously so far as I am concerned.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am also grateful to the Minister for accepting Amendment No. 3 because it helps to simplify the position. We are now in a situation where even I can understand the position. By reading subsection (2) and the Government's Amendment No. 6, which amends subsection (5), I think that we have a clearer understanding of the matter. I am grateful to the Minister for meeting us in that way. Having listened to his remarks, I am certain that when the Bill is printed it will assist those in the other House to understand the situation more clearly, and I believe that that is one of our primary purposes.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 6, line 3, leave out subsection (4)

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4. Noble Lords have found some difficulty with subsection (4) and I recall that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, found it obscure. If he finds it obscure, who am Ito argue with that? The subsection was intended to apply to the Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority, which will be the only case of which we know of a CHA with a harbour in more than one former pilotage district. The aim of the subsection was to enable the port authority to organise its pilotage services sensibly if the pilots insisted on employment in one of its ports but not in the other. I now believe that the provision is unnecessary for that purpose and therefore I move that it be omitted. I hope that it will make the Bill more explicit.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, not for the first or for the last time, having looked through the list of amendments, have I occasion to thank the noble Lord for his receptiveness to the suggestions that have been made at various stages of the Bill and for the care that he has taken in considering any point that has been made.

It would not be right to say that I found the provision obscure; I found it absolutely impenetrable; that in spite of discovering from the Notes on Clauses that it relates to an estuary that I know. I am glad that the noble Lord is removing this provision and again I express my gratitude.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 6, line 9, leave out from ("with") to end of line 11, and insert ("the arrangements made for the provision of such services in its area")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, before we finally dispose of this matter, will the Minister confirm that the effect of the amendment is not to negate the arbitration clauses which we discussed at Report and to which we shall be returning in a few minutes? Is he quite sure that the amendment does not make it possible for a competent harbour authority to avoid the arbitration clauses altogether?

Viscount Simon

My Lords, before the Minister replies, I should like to clarify one point in relation to the matter which we were discussing earlier. It still appears to me that the offer in subsection (2), allowing the pilots to express an opinion as to whether they should be directly employed or self-employed people offering their services, is negated when it is then for the harbour authority to decide what it will do. What is the point of giving the pilots that choice? There is no provision for a poll to be taken among the pilots. The matter is just on the table; there is no provision that it should be accepted or considered. Let us suppose that they wanted to be self-employed and the harbour authority says that it wants to employ them under a contract of employment. Is that the end of the story? What is the point of giving them the choice?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, let me re-assure my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal that I do not think that this matter could possibly affect the arbitration clause in any way.

To clarify the mind of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, the first choice on the matter is with the competent harbour authority as to whether it wishes to employ people or to offer some form of self-employment. If it chooses to offer self-employment it is then, under subsection (2), for the pilots to decide whether they wish to accept that offer. That is the point that I have been trying to make clear throughout our debate.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, with the leave of the House, if instead the pilots say that they wish to be directly employed, would it be possible for the authority to say no, it wants them to be self-employed?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, no. Provided that the majority of pilots opt for employment, it will be an obligation upon the CHA to offer that.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to ask a further question. What will happen if the CHA says that it wishes to employ the pilots but the pilots wish to be self-employed?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that option has never been open. The original offer has always been made by the CHA, however this Bill has been drafted. The first choice is with the CHA.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I think that I follow the Minister. I assume that with the acceptance of Amendment No. 3 we are tied to the position of subsection (2), which gave the pilots the opportunity to make a decision. I assume that the Minister's amendment to subsection (5) must be considered with subsection (2). Therefore, the pilots have the opportunity of deciding the form of employment that they prefer. Will the Minister say whether that is the position?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House, regardless of the amendments that we have moved this evening, the situation is that the first choice is with the CHA as to whether it wishes to offer employment or self-employment. If the CHA opts for employment, that is it. If the CHA offers self-employment, it is then up to the pilots to decide whether they wish to take up that self-employment. If the pilots decide not to do so, the CHA is under an obligation to offer to employ them.

Clause 5 [Temporary procedure Jar resolving disputes as to terms of employment]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 6, line 18, at end insert ("or a person wishing to be authorised under section 3 above by the authority").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 7 and at the same time speak to Amendments Nos. 11, 12 and 30. In the debate on Report stage I agreed to look into points raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and supported by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, about whether the arbitration procedure could be invoked in respect of a pilot who had not yet been authorised after the appointed day.

These amendments make it clear that if, after the appointed day. a dispute arises between a CHA and a person wishing to be authorised, the arbitration procedure can be invoked to deal with that. The amendment to Schedule 1 closes a loophole which, while probably of more theoretical than practical significance, ought to be plugged. If no pilot had been authorised by the CHA after the appointed day, there would be no means by which the local pilots could take any dispute to arbitration. This amendment remedies this by allowing a person or organisation representing former licence holders to invoke the arbitration procedure in these circumstances. I hope that these amendments will be welcomed by the House. I beg to move.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for these amendments.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I should like to be associated with those thanks and also to congratu-late the Minister on the felicity with which he drafted the amendments, which no doubt he will pass on to the draftsman.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 6, line 22, leave out ("modified") and insert ("altered")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this may seem a rather small and unimportant amendment, but when it is looked at more carefully it can be seen that it is something which could lead to considerable dispute. The amendment alters the last word on line 22 of page 6 from "modified" to "altered". The reason for this is that the definition of "modified" means to make less severe or decided, or to tone down. Therefore, the only implication to be drawn is that, should a dispute arise between a harbour authority and an authorisied pilot after the appointed day on the interpretation of any condition in an existing contract of employment, or as to whether, because of changed circumstances in the pilotage area of the CHA or different shipping movements, or whatever cause, which either party believes requires a change in a condition or conditions in a contract of employment and which is disputed by the other party (if there is any dispute at all) then, always providing the competent harbour authority does not exercise its other rights in terms of Clause 4(5), unless "modified" is changed to "altered", the arbitration panel will only be able to arbitrate downwards on the existing terms of the contract. Of course, if a CHA does exercise its right under Clause 4(5), then reference to the arbitration procedure will be an exercise in futility. The point is really more than it may appear. I do not think that it will affect many cases, but there could be a situation where a strict interpretation of the law and a strict interpretation of the language would make it much more than merely a semantic point. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I must say that to us there appears to be very little distinction between "modified" and "altered". Of course, I have taken advice on this matter and I am advised that this amendment would have no practical effect whatever. It certainly would not give the dire consequences to which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, referred. Personally, I am very happy with the way in which the Bill is drafted at the moment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, it seems strange that the Minister thinks that no change will be made by substituting the words, and he has taken advice on the matter. Is he not even aware that the arbitration panel's determination would perhaps be inhibited if the word "modified" instead of "altered" was used? I am slightly disappointed when the Minister says that he thinks the amendment would make no difference whatever. He was quite positive about that; he still insists on keeping the Bill as it is. It is a small point but it could be quite an important point. I know that a number of people involved feel very insecure. It may be merely a sign of the times that there is change in the whole role of pilotage. However, there is a feeling of insecurity and therefore the amendment would be very helpful. If the Minister takes that view, the best is to hope that in another place the matter will be taken up again when the Government have more time to think about it. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 6, line 27, after first ("the") insert ("kinds or).

The noble Lord said: I move Amendment No. 9 and at the same time speak to Amendment No. 28. These amendments are technical improvements to the arbitration provisions of the clause, and make it clear that the decisions made by the arbitration panel will apply to all relevant contracts and not only, for instance, to the contracts of those pilots who happened to be authorised at the time when the panel made its decision. I hope that your Lordships will agree that these amendments will be useful.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 6, line 37, leave out from ("to") to end of line 38 and insert (", among other things, the following considerations—

  1. (a) that the remuneration of an authorised pilot exclusive of any contribution that may have to be made into any pilots' benefit fund by virtue of section 4(6) above will be no less than that which he would have been entitled to as a "relevant licence holder" in or in the approaches to the harbour of the competent harbour authority at that time, with additional recognition for any increased productivity arising through the change in legislation;
  2. (b) that for the purposes of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 all contracts shall acknowledge the relevant Pilotage Authorities as "previous employers" and that the "continuous period of employment" shall be specified as commencing on the date on which the "relevant licence holders" were first licensed; and
  3. (c) that all contracts shall include a provision to the effect that on the revocation of any authorisation and consequential termination of contract of employment for any reason other 787 than those given in sections 3(5)(a) or (b), compensation shall be paid on the basis of that paid under section 28 below.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 10, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 13 and 29. These amendments refer to the clause dealing with the temporary procedure for resolving disputes as to terms of employment. In introducing the amendments, I wish to refer to certain statements made by the Minister during Report stage on 12th February. At col. 812 of Hansard the Minister said: …"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.

At col. 813 he said: If negotiations between the 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.

Later, at col. 813, the Minister said: 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 the contracts, and other such matters. I believe that with the acceptance of these amendments there can be no longer any doutlt 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.

We noted that the clause was included because many noble Lords felt that the offer of employment should be supplemented. The Minister listened to those points of view and came forward with this clause for temporary procedure.

We now have the situation that the Minister is stressing that this is the clause through which the Government are fulfilling the undertakings which they have given. I am sure that the Government now recognise that without this clause they could not possibly have fulfilled the undertakings which had been given to the pilots.

It has been said previously that there are four issues requiring satisfaction if the Government are to fulfil their undertakings to ensure the equitable treatment of the continuing pilots. These issues are: first, a guarantee that each authorised pilot will receive not less than the recommended level of earnings that were applicable in the area of the CHA before the appointed day; secondly, that all employed authorised pilots shall, for the purpose of the Employment Protection Consolidation Act 1978 be considered to have been employed from the date of first licensing; thirdly, that an ongoing compensation scheme, on the basis of that outlined in the Secretary of State's Statement in the other place on 23rd May 1986 be available under this Bill; fourthly, that the enhanced early retirement terms made available by the pilots national pension fund, also as outlined in the Secretary of State's Statement, should become a permanent benefit of the fund. It is acknowledged that it is not possible to include the pension provision in the terms of reference of the arbitration panel, but the pilots are grateful to the Minister for his helpful comments at the Report stage on this matter, particularly when he said on 26th February in col. 420 of the Official Report: I am sure that an extension of the early retirement scheme is something which those responsible for the PNPF will consider very carefully".

The other three fundamental issues remain. As the Minister has stated that this clause is intended to fulfil the undertakings given by the Government in respect of continuing pilots, then these issues should be explicitly mentioned. This amendment is designed to remedy that defect.

The operation and intent of this clause hinge on what is done in subsection (3). The amendment I propose will not limit the arbitration panel's consideration to those three issues. It will enable the panel also to consider all the matters of which the Minister has given examples, very few if any of which are itemised at present in the draft outline guidance that the Secretary of State will issue to the arbitration panel. In fact, the only one identified is the reference to earning levels, and that in a not very satisfactory manner.

I understand that the Minister has stated that these matters, with the exception of the ongoing compensation issue, could be included in those which may be referred to the panel. This should make this amendment acceptable to the Government, thereby demonstrating that the promise of equitable treatment made by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State is to be honoured.

The Minister said on 12th February at col. 824 of the Official Report: 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".

I think all noble Lords will acknowledge that the Government have carried out their commitment to bring in this clause, and what we are trying to do tonight is to help the Minister put it right.

It will be noted that I did not move Amendment No. 1 because we had a Division on the principle, and even though the Government had amended the clause it was still considered that it would have been wrong for me to move that amendment. The important part of the amendment is that it would have dealt with the rights of representation to pilots after the temporary period. The point of my Amendment No. 13 to leave out subsection (7) is to try to terminate a time-limit for this particular dispute procedure, because subsection (7) gives power to the Secretary of State to terminate the dispute procedure at any time after the expiry of the period of three years beginning with the appointed day.

Clause 5 has been introduced by the Government as a substitute for including in legislation guarantees on pilots' earnings, and the Government maintain that in making this provision they are fulfilling the undertakings given by them of fair and equitable treatment. The Minister argues that these are special provisions arising from the change in legislation and that there is no case for making them permanent. The matters to be referred to the arbitration panel will not just be earnings but may include other terms and conditions of employment, including pensions. The temporary nature of the procedure leaves the pilots in a vulnerable position. In the event of the Secretary of State terminating the existence of the dispute procedure there will be nothing to prevent CHAs from scrapping all the arrangements and agreements.

Four years after the appointed day they will be able to recruit from outside the present licensed pilots, and all controls on them will be lost. Pilots, even if employed by a CHA, will still be uniquely vulnerable through the authorisation system, and they require an ongoing monitoring or appeals machinery to ensure the permanence of the promised fair and equitable treatment. There will be no negotiating machinery except any that there may be between the local pilots and the CHA in making any agreements. It is for that reason that we hope that subsection (7) can be dispensed with so that somehow we can have a permanent disputes machinery.

Amendments asking that certain matters shall be referred to the Secretary of State have previously been rejected by the Minister on the grounds that the Secretary of State first of all—I was going to say has not got the competence, but that may be an insult to the Secretary of State—is not competent to deal with the matters which might be referred to him. The disputes machinery would have been a way out, but if after a period of years, and maybe only three years, that is going to be dispensed with, then it means that the sort of issue that we had in mind in my Amendment No. 1, which I did not move, could not be dealt with because there is no machinery at all to cope with it. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I should like briefly to support this amendment. It helps the position of pilots who are made redundant within the four years after the Bill becomes an Act, because at the moment they would only receive redundancy pay from the time that they were taken on by the competent harbour authority even though they may have been licensed pilots for the past 20 years or more. This is not a fair position when the Government themselves have brought in amendments to allow other staff of the pilotage authorities—and indeed those employed by the pilots themselves—to have their position maintained, so that they will be deemed to have been employed from a period when originally employed by the pilotage authority or by the pilots.

In addition, it is important that there is a panel for dealing with the question of arbitration that goes on longer than three years. I know that it is not necessary, as the Bill is written, that the arbitration procedure is brought to an end in three years, but it is quite possible that the Minister may decide to do so. I feel that it should be kept on for much longer. Resolving any disputes will be quicker if there is a process already in positition to deal with them.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I was accused at Report stage of bringing forward what might have been considered a wrecking amendment on another subject, and I am bound to say that it seems to me that the noble Lord's amendment comes close to being that in relation to the arbitration clause. It seeks to bind the arbitrators so that in any determinations they would be required to direct that contracts included three of the provisions which the noble Lord has been seeking in amendments at earlier stages, and which for very good reasons I have not been able to accept.

The first sub-paragraph aims to guarantee the pilots the levels of income which are recommended under the agreements which formerly governed their earnings. I have explained at length why I do not believe it would be right to provide any such guarantee regardless of the circumstances that apply in the port. There are cases where productivity is low but where present earnings levels do not reflect that. There is no justification for providing, at the start of negotiations, a cast-iron guarantee of earnings levels in such cases, on which the pilots would then build in negotiating about increased productivity. Indeed, the amendment makes no bones about it, and would provide for increased earnings above the previous recommended levels in cases where productivity is increased. Apart from any other objections, this would seem to offer unjustified and unfair bonuses to those who, for whatever reason, had been working at a low level of productivity in the past.

I have also explained at length why I cannot accept that previous employment as a self-employed pilot should count towards a period of service for the purpose of rights under the 1978 employment protection legislation. There has been no instance of these provisions being applied to the self-employed, and, whatever arguments there may be about how genuine the pilots' self-employment is, there is no doubt that they have been so classified for many years. Indeed, the House divided on a very similar amendment to this at the last stage.

Finally, I cannot agree that there is a case for providing continuing compensation arrangements for pilots who lose their employment once the shake-down period is over. If such redundancies occur—and they should surely be few, once present surpluses have been removed—they will be the result of changes in demand for pilots' services or changes in the arrange-ments made by the CHA for the provision of pilotage services in the port. Those are the hazards of normal existence in many walks of life, and I am surprised that it is argued that, once the upheaval following this legislation is past, pilots are entitled to special rights in this matter. Again, this was a subject which was much debated at earlier stages.

For similar reasons, I cannot accept the noble Lord's second amendment, to omit subsection (7), which would enshrine the arbitration procedure in the legislation permanently. What is there about pilotage which makes it necessary for such a procedure to continue in existence, other than in the short term to deal with the consequences of this legislation? Surely it is reasonable that after an appropriate period the Secretary of State should have the power to remove this procedure and allow the industry to make whatever arrangements it thinks appropriate in the normal way as every other industry does.

The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, raised one particu-lar point on Amendment No. 1 which he did not move and I should like to look into the position on those points in paragraph (b) of the amendment.

As I have said, I do not regard the noble Lord's amendments as improving the arbitration procedure, and indeed I believe they would severely limit its freedom to operate. A much more sensible approach is to consider the terms of the general guidance which the Secretary of State will give to the arbitration panel under Clause 5(3). During Report stage I was pressed by noble Lords, particularly my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, to bring forward the terms of this general guidance. I explained then that discussions were going on with representatives of the pilots and of the ports on this matter. The terms of the guidance will be for the Secretary of State to determine; but I am sure that all parties would accept that the terms of the guidance which he gives the arbitration panel should, if at all possible, be agreed by both the pilots and the ports.

Following our debate on Report, a further meeting under the chairmanship of my officials has been held between representatives of the ports and of the pilots, and I am glad to say that they have been able to agree on a number of general considerations to which the panel should be required to have regard as appropriate in making their determinations, while recognising that other matters may also need to be taken into account in some cases. Your Lordships may find it helpful if I list these considerations on which the parties have agreed.

First, the previous earnings of pilots in the port, taking account both of actual earnings and levels of earnings recommended under the former Letch agreement (suitably updated). Secondly, the work rate, the volume of work (number of ships to be piloted) and the mix of work (for example range of sizes and types of vessels covered). Thirdly, earnings of pilots in comparable ports elsewhere in the country.

Fourthly, the physical conditions under which pilotage is undertaken in the port. Fifthly, the physical and geographical characteristics of the ports, particu-larly including those relevant to navigational hazards. Sixthly, the earnings, conditions of employment and working patterns of senior staff of the harbour authority, including those of marine officers, in comparison with the working conditions and work patterns applied to pilots. Seventhly, any national guidelines agreed between representatives of the harbour authorities and of the pilots regarding the employment of pilots by the harbour authorities.

These seven considerations are not yet cast in stone, and before putting his name to this general guidance, the Secretary of State will no doubt wish to consider carefully any relevant comments that are made or issues that are raised during the remainder of the Bill's parliamentary progress in another place. But I see no reason at present why what the ports and pilots have agreed together should not constitute the Secretary of State's guidance to the arbitration panel. I hope your Lordships will agree that it deals properly with the issues which will need to be taken into account if and when the panel makes its determinations.

One of the considerations which I have just mentioned would be "any national guidelines agreed between representatives of the harbour authorities and of the pilots regarding the employment of pilots by the harbour authorities". I must apologise to noble Lords for having to draw to their attention the distinction between the terms of guidance to the arbitration panel about which I have just been talking and these national guidelines which are in process of agreement between ports and pilots for the employment of the latter. The representatives of the ports have agreed to include in these national guidelines an undertaking about the pilots' national pension fund, subject to certain provisos about the future financial position of the fund, that benefits under the fund's rules will be maintained at levels no less favourable than those which apply at present; and that the early retirement benefits to be paid by the PNPF in association with the compensation scheme for pilots who lose their employment as a result of the reorganisation of pilotage under our legislation will be maintained for the period of availability of that compensation scheme.

Another item which representatives of the ports accept should be included in an agreement on national guidelines is that, in the event of redundancies becoming necessary after the end of the period for which the compensation scheme will be available, the terms offered pilots will be no less favourable than those which would be payable under statutory require-ments if previous service as a licensed self-employed pilot counted as employment. I believe that the inclusion of this item in the agreement on guidelines at national level between ports and pilots goes a very long way indeed towards meeting the case put by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, in his Amendment No. 10 which is supported by my noble friend Lord Swinfen, for the application of the existing employment protection legislation to pilots' previous self-employed service; especially since the arbitration panel will be required to have regard to those guidelines in reaching its decisions.

I very much hope that noble Lords will find these remarks helpful. Taken together, the Secretary of State's guidance and the national guidelines which are under discussion offer the pilots a very fair deal, and cover much of what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, was seeking in his amendments, without being open to the important objections which I am afraid I have had to make to those amendments.

We believe that it is better to progress by agreement and consultation between the parties involved and I think that is what we are succeeding in doing.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, to put it mildly, I found the Minister's speech a bit of a curate's egg: it was good in parts. Everybody who has been concerned with this Bill greatly appreciates the effort that he has made to try and accommodate the considerable differences of view which have been expressed during the passage of this Bill on the question of fairness. It is a complicated matter and I must apologise to the House if I speak about it for what I hope will not be an unduly long time because I think this is the most important issue, the most important amendment which we shall be addressing this evening.

The sadness is that this House, in spite of all the effort it has put into it, will not be sending this Bill away properly sorted out and tidied up. Perhaps I had better not reflect on the competence of this House as compared with another place. However, we have a slightly greater opportunity to discuss and reflect on these matters than sometimes happens in another place.

The noble Lord started by rejecting out of hand all the issues which the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, had attempted to write into the legislation. I have said so many times that the worry which the pilots have is that the Government go on saying that they intend to give people fair treatment. Every time people try and spell it out and put it into the legislation the Government say, "Well, we don't want to write it down for fear that we shall be committing ourselves in an unduly rigid manner." Equally, I have said several times that we all know that unless something is written into the legislation it is not bankable; it is not something upon which people can count in a negotiation. We do not need to go over all that ground again.

The noble Lord made one very strange statement. He said, "What is it about pilotage that makes it so different? Why can't all these things be sorted out as they are sorted out in all other industries?" I think I can answer that question very simply. Pilotage has been conducted in a certain manner for a very, very, long time. The Government have decided unilaterally to make a radical alteration to the way in which a number of people will earn their living. That is an unusual state of affairs and surely calls for special consideration. I db not think the noble Lord should ask, what is so special about pilotage?

We come to the arbitration procedure. If I am dreary about what the noble Lord has done, let me not be misunderstood. Of course we are grateful for the arbitration clauses. They are extremely helpful. But he has fallen back on the arbitration procedure every time we have tried to write in any total protection for the pilots. The arbitration and all the surrounding considerations which will control it are vital.

As I understand it there are two issues at least. First, one has to decide what issues the arbitration panel will be charged with considering. Secondly, one has to give it the guidelines, the criteria, the facts and figures that it is to take into consideration in arbitrating on the issues it is charged with deciding about. Those two things taken together affect the negotiations which pilots will have with their future employers in that they will have some comeback if they cannot agree on the terms and conditions under which their new employment should be organised. This is a logical progression and is of vital interest to the present pilots, whose employment status and earnings will be radically altered as a result of this Bill. It also affects continuing and future pilots.

The question arises of how long this should go on. On the whole I should have thought there was a good case for saying that it should be a continuing progress. But it would be unfortunate if there was an unduly early arbitrary cut-off period. What troubles me is that the Minister is saying to the pilots, "Look, we are doing our best. We are discussing both the issues and the guidelines—the criteria—which you will use in judging for arbitration. We are discussing these at the moment. We are sure we shall agree. Trust us to come up with a good answer. Meantime let it go like that".

One can only say that even if one totally believed in the good intentions of the Government—some of the things that the Minister has said make one somewhat doubtful as to his understanding of what we are involved with—we are still in the unsatisfactory situation that the pilots have to take it on trust that a satisfactory solution will be arrived at, rather than something being written into the legislation which is what I would call bankable.

Here we are at Third Reading trying to sort this matter out before the Bill leaves this House and the noble Lord is still saying, "I cannot tell you that the issues are agreed and I certainly cannot tell you whether the criteria will be agreed". Having said that, I am fully aware of the discussions which have been going on—

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, my noble friend is misrepresenting me completely. I said things which had been agreed already.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I was just coming on to say that I was delighted to hear that the officials and the pilots have had a satisfactory discussion on the general guidance issues. I gather that there are one or two extra bits that they want put in. That is very good. But we shall not be able to finish up this evening knowing that there are satisfactory lists of issues to be discussed. One or two important issues are missing which we have spoken about already this evening. Nor shall we know whether the criteria by which they will be adjudged have been finally agreed by all those concerned. With the greatest respect, that leaves us in a very unhappy situation, even though it is a very much better situation than when we started considering this Bill.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I think that my noble friend Lord Strathcona goes too far. He talked at one stage about total protection for the pilots because of their special situation. None of us has total protection.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

I do not believe I used those words.

Lord Mottistone

I think my noble friend will find that he did, because I noted them with care earlier in his speech. It is that which strikes me as being unreasonable vis-âvis everybody else. My noble friend made it quite clear that what he was objecting to in Amendment No. 10 he had already spoken to on many occasions before. It is a bit unreasonable at Third Reading to have yet another bite at the cherry.

But, forgetting that for the moment, it seems to me that it would be quite wrong to write in more security than an ordinary person could expect in ordinary types of employment. Many people have had their way of life totally disrupted in various activities and this is just another of those. I am sorry for the pilots if they cannot have it exactly the way they had it before, but that is part of the purpose of the Bill.

My noble friend had a good answer to all the points made in Amendment No. 10 and a good answer to Amendment No. 13. I do not think that we should go on battling away trying to achieve something which is beyond reason.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I shall first deal with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. It was at the Committee stage that there was general pressure because there was no machinery laid down giving the opportunity for representations to be made by pilots who felt that problems might arise which were not covered within the Bill. That was the first problem, therefore we had the Government's amendments at Report stage. Now is the chance for us to amend the Government's amendments. That is the proper machinery of this House. That is why the amendments have been put down. Much of the responsibility must rest with the Government because they knew they wanted the reorganisation. They considered the reorganisation and the results of the consultative document, but the last thing they thought about was arbitration machinery.

I echo what we have said already. We are grateful to the Minister for heeding the comments made at Committee stage by many Members who urged that something ought to be put in the Bill. We are grateful to him for taking notice of what was said so that we had the temporary arbitration machinery introduced. This is our opportunity to make it a good piece of arbitration machinery. We are now grateful to the Minister for having listed those matters which have been agreed, but agreed by a representative at a joint meeting. As the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, said, they were agreed subject to further considerations. Some of those further considerations are in Amendment No. 10 which I have moved tonight. The pilots' organisation has not seen a final document with the further consideration of other items included. Therefore there is no agreed document yet by the pilots' organisation.

It is generally known that on these matters I have been advised by the pilots' organisation. I was talking to one of their representatives—and they are all working pilots—only about an hour before the debate started. While we are grateful for the list of items that has been read out, we have stressed that it all depends on the guidance notes to the arbitration panel as to whether it is going to be a good body or whether there will still be shortcomings. What we have heard from the Minister is encouraging up to a point; but there are still these other considerations. I would urge that some attention is given to them, even at this stage.

We have the situation now that the Secretary of State, after three years, can wind up this arbitration machinery. What do we then fall back on? The only thing we can fall back on is any agreement made by local pilots with their CHAs. It may be argued that we should establish commonsense machinery, as in any industry. But we are not talking about a large organisation. There are only a limited number of pilots, and I should like to see some machinery laid down whereby disputes of all kinds that may arise can be dealt with. We tried to refer them to the Secretary of State but, as I said on a previous amendment, the Minister made it quite clear to us that the Secretary of State could not handle these kinds of matters.

If we are going to have an arbitration panel, surely there should be some machinery whereby that panel can deal with disputes that may arise in the future and not just with those that may arise in connection with the first authorisations or those that may arise in the terms of an agreement to be drawn up between a CHA and its pilots. We need to be able to deal with matters which may arise afterwards; the sort of thing that would be dealt with under our previous amendment.

Therefore, there is still a lot of headway to be made. We cannot do much tonight but I hope that the helpfulness of the Minister in at least getting the arbitration machinery into the Bill will enable those in another place to study what has been done here and to study the omissions. We can only hope that before the Bill goes to the other place there will be further consideration of certain matters, the pilots' association itself having approved them, so that something can be done. Meanwhile, at this hour, I have no alternative but to ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 7, line 1, leave out ("authorised pilot") and insert ("person").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 7. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. L2:

Page 7, line 2, after ("is") insert ("or wishes to be").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I also spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 7. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Clause 6 [Pilot boats]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 7, line 21, leave out ("is satisfied that it is suitable for use as a pilot boat") and insert ("complies with regulations for such boats made by the Secretary of State under section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, during an earlier part of the proceedings the Minister said of a suggestion that the Secretary of State should approve and license pilot boats that he thought it unnecessary. He also said that powers to make regulations on the standard of pilot boats are already contained in Section 21 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979. This, of course, is precisely what is suggested in this amendment.

I am sure we are all aware of the particular and special dangers involved in pilotage. It is, I understand, the second highest risk profession in the country, and I have been told of two relatively recent instances where a pilot has lost his life. The first case was at Falmouth where the pilot attempted to board a passenger ferry which was damaged and desperately seeking shelter in heavy seas. It was found that the pilot boat itself was defective in some respects. The other case I was told about concerned a Blyth pilot who lost his life attempting to board a comparatively small ship in bad weather. The pilot boat was not properly manned.

These are two examples, and there are others that could be cited. They demonstrate that it has not always been satisfactory to leave such matters purely in the hands of the pilotage authorities, even though they are independent, non-commercial and non-profit-making organisations. By the nature of things, the possibility is that if pilots and pilot boats are put on a totally commercial footing, and leaving aside human error, there is a slightly greater chance that a few corners would be cut were profit the main motive for operating the service.

I am sure that the Government do not really subscribe to that view. I am sure they will also accept that the record of injury and fatality is bad enough without being made worse. Therefore, I hope that they will accept this amendment, which would still leave considerable responsibility in the hands of a competent harbour authority but at the same time ensure standards against which to measure and exercise that responsibility. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, at the Report stage the Minister said that regulations were to be brought forward with which pilot boats would have to comply. This amendment may well be a "belt" to help those "braces". However, the position of pilots trying to hoard vessels in extreme conditions, as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has said, is extremely dangerous. It is very worthwhile having belt and braces in this case to make certain that the competent harbour authorities, should they start running into financial difficulties, do not cut down on the quality of the pilot boats. It is people's lives we are talking about—people who are extremely responsible and, as I said at an earlier stage, who often go out in the most appalling weather to help vessels in difficulties. Despite what the Minister said at Report stage, I think that he would be wise to accept this amendment.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am sure we are all agreed on the importance of the safety of pilot boats. We have been over this ground on several occasions and, on Report, I confirmed the undertaking given in Committee to bring forward proposals on the regulations regarding the survey of pilot boats before the implementation of this Bill. I can confirm that that remains our intention.

Given that commitment, I really cannot see what purpose would be served by accepting this amendment. It is unsatisfactory in that it would mean that the pilot boats would not be subject to any regulation at all until regulations under the Merchant Shipping Act had been made. With the best will in the world, it will take some time after my proposals are brought forward for the interested parties to be consulted and for the regulations to go through the appropriate statutory procedures. This amendment would therefore open the possibility of a gap after the appointed day, during which the boats would not be regulated at all.

Of course, I very much hope that that gap would not occur. But what surprises me is that the noble Lord's amendment proposes to relieve the CHAs of any responsibility in the matter, other than to act as a rubber stamp for my department's surveyors. In Committee, your Lordships agreed to the suggestion that a CHA could not be expected to act responsibly in this matter because of commercial pressures. With respect, I think that is nonsense. Even if it were true, I should have thought it would still be to everyone's benefit for the CHAs to be placed under a statutory obligation to approve pilot boats, regardless of what is done under the Merchant Shipping Act. As I previously pointed out, the new duty on a CHA to satisfy itself as to the suitability of pilot boats is a more stringent requirement than that contained in existing legislation. I am surprised that the noble Lord's amendment seeks to remove those words.

My noble friend Lord Swinfen talked about belt and braces. Our approach encompasses belt and braces—first, the regulations under the Merchant Shipping Act, for which I have promised to bring forward proposals; and secondly, the new statutory obligation on the CHA. Acceptance of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, would remove one of those—whether belt or braces I am not sure. Therefore, I believe that the way in which the Bill is now drafted is the best way.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I am sure that we are grateful to the Minister for what he has said. Everyone would agree, I think, that we have no wish to remove the responsibility from the CHA. Clearly this must be its responsibility. I think that the Minister is saying that, while it is the CHA's responsibility, there will be some oversight of how it exercises that responsibility. From the point of view of the pilots, they would like to be confident that there is some higher authority—apart from a rather inacces-sible higher authority in the skies—to which they can refer if they are not satisfied with the quality or maintenance of the pilot boats being provided by the CHA. If that is what he is saying, I am sure we can all agree that it is a noble intention.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am sure that we all accept that the Minister in a case as serious as this has the same feelings as the rest of us and is anxious that there should be no additional hazard in the job of a pilot. I shall withdraw the amendment, and hope that he will be able to bring forward the regulations relatively quickly. Can he say whether that will be before the Bill comes back to the House from another place?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I fear that it may take a little longer than that. I have said that I hope to bring forward proposals for the regulations before the implementation of the Bill. I cannot go further than that.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, accepting the total sincerity of the Minister and his intentions, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 [Pilotage directions]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 8, line 15, at end insert— ("(6) A competent harbour authority shall arrange for any pilotage direction given by it to be published in such manner as to bring it to the notice of those persons likely to be interested.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I accepted in principle on Report an amendment from my noble friend Lord Mottistone requiring the publication of any pilotage directions made by a competent harbour authority. As I said at the time, 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 think that that would be unnecessarily bureaucratic. The amendment, therefore, leaves it to the CHA to decide how best to publicise the issue of a direction. The wording is the same as that used in Clause 10 concerning the publication of pilotage charges. I beg to move.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for carrying out the undertaking that he gave earlier.

Clause 8 [Pilotage exemption certificates]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 8, line 33, leave out from ("by") to end of line 35 and insert— ("a person (other than a person who immediately before the appointed day was the holder of a licence under section 12 of the Pilotage Act 1983 or a time-expired apprentice pilot or recognised assistance pilot within the meaning of section 3 above) applying to the authority for authorisation under section 3 above").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment is intended to clarify subsection (2) of Clause 8, which says that the requirements to be met by applicants for pilotage exemption certificates must be no more onerous than those for applicants for authorisation as a pilot. It makes it clear that the comparison should be with the normal requirements applicable to prospec-tive pilots, not with the different and presumably less stringent requirements that may apply to former licensed pilots, apprentices and helmsmen. I think that it should meet with the approval of the pilots. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 8, line 40, at end insert— ("(3A) Where a direction is given in respect of a competent harbour authority under subsection (3) above any pilotage exemption certificate granted by the authority shall cease to have effect and the authority shall notify the holders of such certificates of that fact.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, our discussion on Report of the amendments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, amendments to what is now Clause 8 brought to our attention a gap in the Bill as drafted where the Secretary of State makes a direction under Clause 8(3) relieving a CHA of the normal obligation to issue pilotage exemption certificates that have already been issued.

I agreed to take the point away for further consideration. In practical terms, the point may not be of great significance since we are probably dealing with ports where no such certificates have been issued in the past. To be quite sure that the point is covered, the amendment makes clear that any existing certificate would cease to be valid once the Secretary of State has made a direction under Clause 8(3). I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, I hope that the Minister is not getting tired of people saying thank you to him. At any rate, I should like to do so.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I shall never get tired of that. I wish that some of my noble friends would say it more often.

Clause 10 [Pilotage charges]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara: moved Amendment No. 18: Page 9, line 25, after ("by") insert ("such").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 10, line 6, leave out ("vessels") and insert ("ships").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this too is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I do not understand the amendment. In the Navy we talk about major war vessels, which includes ships, battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers and minor war vessels. "Vessels" is a better comprehensive term for all types of seagoing craft than "ships". I do not know why the amendment has occurred to my noble friend.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the only reason that it has occurred is that we refer to them as "ships" throughout the rest of the Bill. It is obviously easier to make one amendment to turn one reference to "vessels" into "ships" than to make many more amendments to turn all the references to "ships" into "vessels".

Clause 17 [Right of authorised pilot to supersede unauthorised pilot]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 14, line 14, after ("ship") insert ("or a ship of a specified description").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 20 and wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 21, 22 and 23.

The amendments are the result of the further consideration that I undertook to give to the points made by noble Lords when we were discussing on Report what is now Clause 17(7)(b). The purpose of that provision is to allow a CHA to make a direction removing the normal provision under which an authorised pilot will have a right to supersede an unauthorised person. It is principally the position of the London watermen which is in mind here, although the provision also bears on the work of the dock pilots in certain other ports.

Some of the comments made on Report about the potential effects of this modest provision were in my view exaggerated. After all, it relates only to movements of ships between moorings and in and out of docks. To suggest, for example, that it might be used to undermine the main provisions of the Bill concern-ing compulsory pilotage seems really rather far-fetched. However, I have tabled amendments on two points.

First, Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 have the effect that a CHA will be able to apply subsection (7)(b) selectively rather than on an all-or-nothing basis. If the CHA believes that certain ships, such as those carrying dangerous cargoes, should be left outside the scope of a direction made under this subsection, it will now be able to arrange this.

Amendment No. 23 has the effect of limiting the power to make directions under subsection (7)(b) to areas where ship movements of the type described may be carried out at present by groups other than licensed pilots. These are, first, areas covered by a relevant by-law made under the existing legislation. The only such area is the port of the present London pilotage district where work is carried out by the watermen. Secondly, there are closed docks that fall outside an existing pilotage district. Where such a dock falls within the area of a CHA the dock pilots who in some cases work in such docks would lose their present immunity from supersession by licensed or authorised pilots if the subsection was not applied in such places.

In both cases—as regards the watermen and the dock pilots—the intention is to give the CHA the power to continue with present arrangements if they so wish. I hope that these amendments will reassure noble Lords who fear that the provision in subsection (7)(b) might be more widely used. I hope also that my amendments effectively take care of the amendment of my noble friend Lord Swinfen. I beg to move.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to thank the noble Lord the Minister, who feels that I have been somewhat ungracious and ungrateful to him heretofore.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, may I also thank my noble friend the Minister for taking on board what was said at earlier stages of the Bill and assure him that I shall not be moving Amendment No. 22.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I think the Minister said that the arguments used in the previous stage were rather far-fetched and exaggerated. If statements of that kind result in the Minister acting in this way, we shall all be very happy.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 14, line 16, after ("ship") insert ("or a ship of that description").

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 14, line 20, at end insert— ("(8) A competent harbour authority shall not give a direction under subsection (7)(b) above unless the area in relation to which it will apply is either—

  1. (a) an area in relation to which a bye-law under section 38 of the Pilotage Act 1983 (exemptions from compulsory pilotage for ships moving within harbours, docks etc) was in force immediately before the appointed day; or
  2. (b) a closed dock, lock or other closed work which is not in a former pilotage district.").

Clause 24 [Abolition of pilotage authorities]:

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 18, line 44, leave out ("so representative") and insert ("representative of such staff or former staff').

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am moving this amendment in order to give the Minister an opportunity to state what he has found out since we had a telephone conversation. He very kindly wrote to me regarding an amendment similar to this which I moved at the last stage. He pointed out that he had had legal advice that the Bill as worded covers the point that I have in mind. Yesterday we debated the question of English grammar and I did not take part. But I question whether the insertion of a semicolon would separate the later part from the first part. If I am right, then my amendment is necessary. The Minister kindly said that he would check further and give us an intimation tonight. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I do not claim to be a great expert on English grammar either, but at least I have the benefit of parliamentary counsel to give me advice on these matters. I have indeed raised the points about which the noble Lord spoke to me on the telephone, and I can give him an assurance that the subsection as drafted does—as it is intended to do—require the Secretary of State to consider representations from all those, including representa-tives of staff and former staff, whom the Pilotage Commission has had to consult about the schemes. The words "so representative" refer back to the words "representative of the staff or former staff" in line 40 on page 18. I hope I have given the noble Lord the assurance for which he is looking.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am very happy about the research work that the Minister has undertaken and I am delighted to have his assurance. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 28 [Pilots' compensation schemes]:

8.45 p.m.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 21, line 39, leave out ("a pilots' compensation scheme") and insert ("pilots' compensation schemes").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is to Clause 28, which deals with pilots' compensation schemes. I am speaking with particular reference to deep-sea pilotage certificates. There was an exchange of views on this matter at the Committee stage on 12th January, but to save time I shall not give the various quotations. The Minister said that he would look into the points that were raised, in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton.

To the best of the pilots' knowledge, there are no supply and demand criteria for determining the total numbers of deep-sea pilots required to operate in the English Channel and the North Sea, let alone what share of that total is allocated to this country. That gives rise to the subordinate question of how the five issuing authorities in this country liaise in order to determine how they share this country's allocation. The answers to these two questions are of vital interest to those district pilots in this country who will have to forfeit their deep-sea pilotage certificates—an asset which gives them employment to whatever degree—for no, compensation.

In Committee, the Minister said: I am therefore prepared to consider providing in the legislation that any pilots taking the proposed compensation and early retirement terms should surrender their deep-sea pilotage certificates. This would not prevent them from subsequently applying for fresh deep-sea pilotage certificates, but it would be for the authorised bodies then to consider whether they should be issued".

At Report stage on 26th February the Minister said: The choice will be his. Even if he does surrender his certificate, and take his compensation payment, he will still be able to apply for a new certificate immediately thereafter, and it will be for the issuing body to consider whether, in the situation as it sees it at the time, it should issue such a certificate".

The Minister went on: If the issuing body decides to issue a certificate, the pilot will be able to re-enter deep-sea pilotage and will also be able to keep his compensation payment."—[Official Report, 26/2/87; col. 412.]

But what happens if the issuing body for whatever reason—unless unknown to all in the industry there are in being supply and demand criteria with national allocation; but even in that case the criteria do not allow what I have mentioned—decides not to reissue deep-sea pilotage certificates to all those who because the Government have been so determined have had to forfeit their deep-sea pilotage certificates? I accept that the amendment may not be technically correct and may need refinement, but it is designed to ensure that those pilots whose right of employment may have been arbitrarily removed by this legislation will receive compensation for the removal of this very valuable asset—the deep-sea pilotage certificate. That is the purpose of Amendment No. 26. The other two amendments, Nos. 25 and 27, which I am associating with it are consequential. I beg to move.

Viscount Simon

My Lords, I wonder whether I may make one comment on what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said. I think that in the last discussion on the subject I threw out the thought that perhaps these people—the Minister gave some figures earlier—spend practically all their time on district pilotage, and perhaps two or three times a year have a deep-sea voyage. It seems quite illogical that people should apparently get the same compensation for giving up their district licence, and then get further compensation for giving up what I suggest and believe is a very small part of their work.

Would it not be more reasonable that if they spend, say, 90 per cent. of their time in district pilotage and 10 per cent. in deep-sea pilotage, they get nine-tenths of their compensation for district pilotage and the other one-tenth for deep-sea pilotage? I do not see why they should get, as it were, two compensations when they have only been doing a full day's work anyway.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I am not sure that I entirely agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. Let us take as an example someone who is a highly qualified chemist and at the same time a highly qualified barrister. I believe I am right in saying that at least one Minister in the Government is in that position. It is then said that that individual cannot continue to work on a self-employed basis as a barrister, and because of that it is said that the individ-ual must also not work as a chemist. It is another form of employment. It has a merchantable value to that individual and can be valued. Why should he give up an asset with no compensation?

It may be an asset that is not used very often and therefore may not have a particularly high value; but an actuary should have no great difficulty in calculating the value for the compensation that should be put on it. Even if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, may not be technically correctly drafted, as he himself admitted, surely the Minister could take it on board and, as with the case of Amendment No. 2, the Government could bring forward one of their own in another place.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we had an interesting debate at Report stage when I introduced what is now subsection (2)(c) of this clause. I said that it was a middle way between the rather conflicting interests of the district and the deep sea pilots. The clause represents a compromise. It commended itself to the majority of noble Lords who spoke at Report stage, including the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and it appeared to be the best available option.

I do not think there is any case for providing additional compensation for pilots who surrender deep sea certificates in order to qualify for compensation under the pilots' compensation scheme. After all, we are not forcing them to hand in their certificates, and it will be open to them to continue this work if they so wish. But not even those who hand in their certificates and accept compensation will be barred from working in the deep sea field in the future if they make a successful application to the issuing authorities for a new certificate. That is a point about which the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked.

I also think it is fair to ask why a pilot who receives compensation on the basis that his district work occupies him full-time should also expect to be compensated in respect of extra work he nonetheless finds it possible to do. As the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, suggested at Report, that seems to smack of having it both ways.

Futhermore, the amendment as drafted—and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, admits that it is not perfect—is defective in one substantial way. It asks the CHAs to compensate in this respect for something which is none of their business at all. They do not have any interest in deep sea pilotage. Therefore I do not think it is something one would ask the CHAs to do. In addition, it does not mention what kind of compensation should be offered.

However, those are not the reasons why I suggest that noble Lords should reject the amendment. I have already given those.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I said at the outset that my amendment might not be worded correctly. Instead of the CHA, I should have referred to some other body. As I said in my opening remarks, the body responsible for issuing deep sea pilotage certificates might decide not to reissue a certificate. As the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, said, an individual would then lose what is a valuable asset. I cannot tell the House the difference in income between someone who holds a deep sea pilotage certificate and someone who does not, but I should imagine that it is worthwhile having. If a man has to surrender the certificate there should be a compensation scheme.

The debate has been useful because individuals in another place will be interested in what noble Lords have said and will be interested in the Minister's reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [Transitional and saving provisions]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 28:

Page 26, line 19, after second ("the") insert ("kinds of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this with Amendment No. 9. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 26, line 30, at end insert— ("(4) Where any such dispute as mentioned in subsection (1) of section 5 to this Act arises on or after the appointed day but before the competent harbour authority in question has authorised any persons under section 3 of this Act, for the reference in that Subsection to the majority of the authorised pilots for its harbour there shall be substituted a reference to any person or organisation which represents the majority of the holders of licences under section 12 of the Pilotage Act 1983 for a former pilotage district in which the authority's harbour falls.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 7. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 27, line 9, at end insert— ("(2) Before making an order under sub-paragraph (1) above in respect of any fund the Secretary of State shall consult such persons or organisations as appear to him to be representative of competent harbour authorities and such persons or organisations as appear to him to be representative of the persons who may benefit from the fund.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, when we debated this clause at the Report stage, I accepted in principle the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, which required the Secretary of State to consult representatives of members of the fund and other interested parties before making any orders changing the constitution and management of any pilots' pension fund. I said then that although the principle of the amendment was acceptable, I should like to consider its drafting. The amendment which is now before your Lordships achieves the objectives. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

When moving Second Reading on what now seems the far away date of 25th November last year, I said that this was an important Bill on an important subject. I certainly feel that your Lordships have treated the Bill with the care and seriousness which it merits, and I hope that those who have been following our proceedings would agree that the issues have been properly ventilated. Although pilotage is sometimes a contentious subject, it is not, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has pointed out, a matter of party politics, and we have seen some unusual alliances crossing normal party lines and also involving noble Lords from the Cross-Benches.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for the contributions he has made to our discussions. My noble friend Lord Strathcona has, with the benefit of his experience as the Honourary President of the United Kingdom Pilots Association (Marine), also spoken very persuasively in support of the points of concern to the pilots. My noble friend Lord Swinfen has also drawn to our attention the particular concerns of the London pilots. I am sorry that on a number of the points which have been made I have had to resist the blandishments of these noble Lords, but I hope that they are now much happier than they were with the way in which the Bill provides for the position of the pilots who are to continue in the profession, as well as those who will be retiring. In view of all the discussion there has been about the phrase (I hesitate to mention the words) "fair and equitable treatment", there cannot any longer be any doubt, even if there was previously, that the Bill now provides fair treatment for the pilots.

I am also grateful for the support the Bill received from my noble friend Lord Mottistone who always kept the interest of shipowners before your Lordships. We have also had some valuable contributions from the Cross-Benches, including those from the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, and the noble and learned Lords, Lord Simon of Glaisdale and Lord Brightman. The noble Lords, Lord Greenway and Lord Shackleton, have been particularly concerned about the position of Trinity House, and I am glad that we have been able to include provisions in the Bill which will remove some of the obstacles that were foreseen to the successful establishment of Trinity House Agency Services Limited. It is of course the hope of all of us that the name and unrivalled experience of Trinity House will not be lost from the pilotage scene, and that, within the new framework set by the Bill, they will be providing services in future by agreement with some of the competent harbour authorities.

I have not mentioned all the noble Lords who have spoken in Committee and at other stages, but I am grateful to them all for their contributions, which have invariably been thoughtful and constructive. I think we can all agree that the Bill leaves your Lordships' House in even better shape than when it entered.

We have added provisions to the Bill for arbitration, dangerous cargoes, the use of spoken English by applicants wanting pilotage exemption certificates, and provision to cover groups such as the London Watermen and many others.

This is perhaps not the time to comment on the lessons to be learned from the reference of this Bill to the Public Bill Committee, save to say that the outcome will have been a disappointment to those who hoped for a great saving of time on the Floor of the House. In Committee and on Report, we spent nearly 20 hours in discussion, of which nearly eight hours were on the Floor of the House. As I have said, these debates have led to improvements in the Bill, although towards the end of our proceedings, I fear I detected a certain familiarity in some of the arguments.

I should particularly like to thank noble Lords who sat on the Committee for their patience in the I 1 hours of debate that we had, mostly in perhaps not ideal circumstances in the Moses Room. Inevitably we have been concentrating on the details of pilotage, many of them fascinating. However, we should not lose sight of the principal objective of this legislation, which is to ensure that the pilotage services can continue to play their necessary part in the safe operation of ships and the ports that they use without placing unnecessary costs on our trade.

Against a background of concern about the costs involved in using British ports and about the ports' competitive position and that of our merchant fleet vis-âvis their foreign counterparts, the reforms which will follow from the enactment of this Bill will be of the greatest importance.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)

9 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his kind references to me. On one point we are unanimous; as the Minister said, the Bill leaves this House a better Bill than when it first came to us. As he rightly said, it was thought to be non-controversial but it has proved to be a very controversial Bill. I have my views on whether it was sensible to send it to a separate committee. We have all reported our views about that and perhaps I should say only that I am not too happy about it.

The Bill affects people, and we must remember that all the time. It affects a body of individuals. It is not a large body of people but these are people who want to see the reorganisation prove a success. That is why we are concerned to ensure that they are treated as fairly as possible. I shall not go through the various improvements we have achieved, but most of them have been made possible because the Minister has been prepared to listen, sometimes to quite strong comments. He has not accepted everything that we wanted. That is a great pity, because the Bill might have been an even better Bill had he done so, but he did listen to a number of items.

I know that the pilots will be grateful in particular for the fact that there is now some kind of arbitration machinery and a declaration has been made about the future pensions scheme. We also have achieved acceptance by the CHAs of the environmental considerations, and a number of other matters have been successfully pursued, but I shall not weary your Lordships with them at this stage.

I have been advised throughout the passage of this Bill by the pilots organisation which consists only of working pilots. They are not professional trade unionists. I should like to express my thanks to them. Without their help—and the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, knows more about it than any other Member of this House—most of us would not have been in a position to participate as we have done in putting forward various proposals. I thank the Minister for his co-operation and I also thank the outside advisers for their help in producing what I think is a better Bill.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I should like to add a few words before the Bill leaves the House. As the Minister rightly said, the issues have been properly ventilated. The pilots are accustomed to a breath of fresh air. The Minister thinks that he has blown away a lot of cobwebs. Our fear is that the gale may create a tidal wave and even leave us high and dry. However, I do not wish to carp.

I admire the Minister's persistence and very much appreciate his patience, which I feel we have sorely tried at times. I hope that I am not damning it with faint praise if I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, that at least the Bill leaves us slightly better than when it arrived. I hope that by the time another place has finished with it, it will be an admirable piece of legislation of which we can all be proud.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his help during the passage of the Bill and for doing what he could to help the shipping interests where that was relevant. The Bill is very much better now than it was before. I am sorry that at times I may have appeared to be over-critical of the pilots in the interests of the economy of shipping, on which I think the country ultimately depends. I hope that the Bill has a happy passage through all its stages in another place and that it will not be too changed when it returns to US.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his courtesy during our proceedings on this Bill and also for the at times lengthy correspondence that we have had. It is slightly unusual for a Minister who is putting through a Government Bill such as this one to have to operate almost entirely on his own, which he has done through sometimes lengthy proceedings. I think that he is worthy of congratulation for having handled this task solo, so to speak.

I also express my gratitude to him for meeting nearly all the points that were raised by me and by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, concerning the staff at Trinity House and the setting up of the Trinity House Agency Services, which was a task that would have been impossible under the terms of the Bill as it was originally drafted. That is all very well so far as it goes. However, in the cold light of commercial day it remains to be seen how many ports will avail themselves of the services of that agency. Whatever the outcome, sadly it is inevitable that a great deal of the longstanding professional expertise of Trinity House in pilotage matters, which is respected at home and abroad and which has been acknowledged by the Government on several occasions, will be lost when it might otherwise been usefully employed in pilotage advice.

Turning to the Bill in general, as other noble Lords have said we have effected a number of very useful amendments but I continue to have serious reserva-tions concerning the Government's stated aims of making pilotage cheaper. To my knowledge no detailed figures or even estimates have been brought forward to permit judgment on costs. The likely possibilities are that the general cost to the shipowner will be greater rather than less. Trinity House, with all its expertise, agrees strongly with that feeling. At this late stage of the Bill I shall not give examples but there are quite a number of them that I could bring forward. In many ways this is a Bill that deals with big ports. The little ports will have to tag along as best they can. Considerable difficulties lie in their paths. There will be a great danger of them cutting corners to try to keep down costs.

Much talking remains to be done on this Bill. I hope that when all is said and done we shall have arrived at a workable solution and that all our dealings and discussions in this House will have been useful.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, the Bill has undoubtedly been much improved during its passage through this House. All of us are deeply indebted to the noble Lords on the two Front Benches. I shall say something about our debt to the Minister. I still feel unhappy about Clause 4, both in its drafting and its bias, as I see it and I am afraid as the pilots see it, against their continued status as self-employed persons. It has occurred to me that the clause could be simplified if one relied on trade union representation rather than majority voting.

The Bill now goes to another place where there is plenty of experience on that type of thing. I should like to think that the Minister might make some exploration along those lines. The pilots have been represented here, and rightly so, by three powerful, knowledgeable voices in cogent debate. We have had the benefit of the genial realism of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone. On Second Reading, we heard some hair-raising experiences of his on the subject of pilotage. They were hair-raising, at any rate, to those of your Lordships who are better endowed. The Minister has had the experience of having shots fired from behind him, some of which seemed to be aimed to ricochet off him. He coped with that well.

The second day of the Report stage was an amazing parliamentary experience. We started to deal with 60 or more amendments at 8 p.m. and finished them in manageable time.

Before I mention the debt that we owe to the Minister, in particular, I should like to say how much everyone who has to do with Trinity House owes to the noble Lords, Lord Shackleton and Lord Greenway. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, has worked exceptionally hard on behalf of Trinity House and has effected some valuable improvements to the Bill.

The Minister's performance is almost unparalleled in my parliamentary experience. He has allowed your Lordships to shape the Bill a great deal while still retaining control over it. He was exceptionally receptive to ideas and has invariably worked hard on them, written letters on them and framed amendments to give effect to them when he found them made out. We are deeply in his debt, as we are to both Front Benches.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, I should like to comment briefly on the procedures that we have followed. The noble and learned Lord has been in Parliament for many years. I have been here for 40 years now and seen many Third Readings and Bills passing. We always go through an enjoyable and pleasant procedure at the end, but we should not shrink from making comments that may be useful. I should like to say, first, that I do not agree with those who think that the decision to take this Bill in a Public Bill Committee was wrong. I believe that there was a need for a great deal of discussion. We had a little hiccup now and again on Report when we failed to recommit a new clause. I am grateful to the noble Lord who has carried a heavy burden, about which I wish to say something. However, we probably saved Government time on the Floor of the House by taking some of the material in a Public Bill Committee. I was not a Member of that Committee but under our free and easy ways I was allowed to perform.

I cannot believe that the Minister thought that this was an uncontroversial Bill. I am amazed that those who do the timetabling and planning of a Bill of this kind did not realise that it was going to be a hornets' nest. The noble Lord has carried an extraordinarily heavy burden. Perhaps under the present Government the leaders of your Lordships' House on the Government side were so busy looking after the Prime Minister and coping with government that the noble Lord was asked to undertake a great deal of work. He is the last man to say that he needs help or protection; he has always had the assistance of the noble Lord who is sitting beside him. Certainly when I was Leader of the House I never allowed any of my colleagues to carry the kind of burden that the noble Lord has carried. I congratulate him.

I hope that the Government Chief Whip will take note that there is a limit to the capacity of his young men to carry these burdens. This will be very good training for the noble Lord when he comes to deal with the Channel Tunnel Bill. Perhaps this is a preliminary to that.

We in Trinity House are grateful for what has been achieved. I am doubtful in the extreme that the Government will save money. Indeed, pilotage may become more costly. We have had no figures and no evidence. With the present state of British shipping this is worrying. It is sad that Trinity House, with its long experience, is no longer in a position to play the central role in our national affairs with regard to pilotage. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, is more radical than I, and I may be taking up a conservative position, but I do not like to see what might be called doctrinaire interference with existing, good institutions. Irritating though strong and historic institutions may sometimes be, that is a pity.

It is a pity that the pilots will be as unhappy as they undoubtedly are and uncertain about the criteria for arbitration. I believe that there is a real job to be done in another place. Nonetheless the noble Lord has come through with flying colours and most of us are grateful to him.

We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, who, unlike other noble Lords, does not have a Trinity House flag to wave. My two friends on the Front Bench have mastered a highly technical subject and between them they have justified the parliamentary institution.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I add my congratulations to the Minister on the way in which he has handled the Bill. I thank my noble friend for considering the points that I and other noble Lords have raised, coming back with his own amendments and promising that the Government will bring forward amendments to satisfy us in another place. Until shortly before this Bill began I knew absolutely nothing about pilotage. I am very grateful to those who have briefed me so excellently.

With regard to the Public Bill Committee to which the Bill was committed, as one of the Members of your Lordships' House who has to spend the majority of his time earning his living, I found that the Committee stage was rather longer than I had anticipated. It was five days. If it had been taken on the Floor of the House it would probably have only been two days. It is not so inconvenient for Members who do not need to earn a living and do not have the pressures of their employers on them the whole time. However, for those of us who need to do so, and who have our employers jumping down our throats the whole time asking, "Why are you going back to that place again? I am not paying you to do that", it is a nuisance. Perhaps I may conclude by congratulating my noble friend.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, briefly I thank all noble Lords who have been kind enough to pay tribute to the way this Bill has gone through the House. I say to the noble Lords, Lord Greenway and Lord Shackleton, that had I known that there were to be over 270 amendments I do not think that I should have attempted to tackle this Bill on my own. I did not know that at the beginning.

Both noble Lords said that they did not believe that the Bill would make pilotage cheaper. I must disagree with them; I believe that it will, and history will show us whether that is right. I commend the Bill to your Lordships.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

House adjourned at twenty-one minutes past nine o'clock.