HC Deb 02 November 1973 vol 863 cc37-9W
Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consideration he has given to the delegation of marine survey functions to classification societies; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

After careful consideration I have decided, subject to the necessary legislation, to delegate to Lloyd's Register of Shiping certain statutory survey functions under the Merchant Shipping Acts, of which the major items are:

  1. (a) The tonnage measurement of ships;
  2. (b) The survey of safety equipment of cargo ships on a rotating basis with my Department, other than the initial survey which will continue to be undertaken by my Department;
  3. (c) The examination of plans of the hull structures of passenger ships including survey during construction;
  4. (d) The survey of certain items of machinery in passenger ships which are not vital to safety and in practice have been found relatively trouble free;
  5. (e) The approval of stability information, including approval of grain stowage arrangements where appropriate, for those types of cargo ship which, in practice, do not produce major problems.

The delegation of certain of these items requires amendments to the Merchant Shipping Acts, while others require amendments of rules made under those Acts.

In addition it is proposed to authorise the Royal Yachting Association and the Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveyors Association to undertake the tonnage measurement of yachts under 45 feet in length.

The Department will continue to be responsible for establishing safety requirements for shipping in the light of the relevant international conventions and for undertaking much of the related statutory survey work.

The new moves will help to avoid duplication, will ease the pressure on the Department's surveyors and permit them to devote more time to work connected with the regulation of new types of vessel and equipment as well as fishing vessels.

Lloyd's Register will be authorised to act only in relation to ships classed with that society. The society has a very high reputation, and I am convinced that these new delegations will in no way affect the high safety standards of United Kingdom merchant shipping.

These arrangements will take some time to bring into effect and will be kept under careful review.

These proposals were notified to the seafarers' unions on 28th June 1973. They are to be made public today.