HL Deb 24 March 1977 vol 381 cc749-51WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which Departments of State (not excluding the Crown Estates Commissioners) have a regulatory role offshore, in that they are responsible for monitoring that regulations made are observed; how often each installation, vessel, area et cetera is in practice inspected; how many of these inspections are carried out without prior notification; whether the various inspectorates co-ordinate or combine their visits; whether the Isle class vessels will include the transporting of inspectors among their duties; and whether, if so, other Departments than the Department of Energy and MAFF and DAFS will contribute to the running costs of the Isle force, and if not, what other provision is being made for ensuring inspection without notification.


The Secretaries of State for Scotland and Defence and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have the main responsibilities in fishery protection. The waters within extended British fishery limits are patrolled by air and by Royal Navy and DAFS fishery protection vessels. Since United Kingdom fishery limits were extended to 200 miles on 1st January, some 290 fishing vessels have been boarded for inspection. All inspections are carried out without prior notification. Ships of the Island class may carry advisers from the Fisheries Departments Inspectorates but will not be used to transport other inspectors.

The Secretary of State for Energy is responsible for the administration of regulatory controls concerned with oil and gas exploration and production activities on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. Regulations relating to offshore installations are enforced by inspectors of the Department's Petroleum Engineering Division. Each offshore installation is inspected on average two or three times a year. Access to installations is by helicopter and therefore inspections do not take place without prior notification. The uxe of surface transport would add considerably to the time taken for each inspection, thus significantly reducing the frequency of inspection. There are no plans to change the basis of inspection.

The Secretary of State for Trade has general responsibility under the Merchant Shipping Acts for enforcing shipping safety regulations. Statutory surveys or inspections of British ships are carried out at intervals ranging front one to five years as specifically required under safety regulations concerned with construction, stability, machinery, life saving and other equipment. In addition, general safety inspections of ships in British ports may be carried out at any time without prior notification.

The responsibilities of other Departments and Agencies, including the Crown Estates Commissioners, will be described in a handbook being prepared by the Interdepartmental Committee on Marine Safety.