HL Deb 01 March 1978 vol 389 cc600-2WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In relation to the Hydrographer's Department of the Navy,—

  1. (a) why are monies earned by the Department in the process of "paying particular attention to its commercial potential" as it is required to, not ploughed back into the Department;
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  3. (b) whether, in calculating the value to the United Kingdom of the Hydrographer's work for Iran in the Gulf at £11 million, any figure for costs has been allowed in respect of delays in any surveying required by—
    1. (i) the Ministry of Defence, and
    2. (ii) other Departments (e.g. of traffic lanes etc.) in British waters and whether such costs do not constitute a concealed subsidy;
  4. (c) whether the Department is appropriately equipped with vessels and staff to "exploit its economic potential" to the full, and whether the FCO examines the potential market world-wide;
  5. (d) what contribution the Department of Trade makes towards the costs of the Hydrographer's Department in view of its overall responsibilities for safety at sea;
  6. (e) what proportion of designated shipping lanes off the British coast and of areas within which traffic schemes are in operation have been surveyed to the highest modern standards;
  7. (f) whether they are considering the construction of a £3 billion gas-gathering pipeline network in the North Sea and, if so, what proportion of the area of the seabed in question has been surveyed, and when, and to what standard, and by what date will the Hydrographer's Department have completed surveys to modern standards of this whole area;
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  9. (g) what conclusions did they draw from the recent United Nations Hydrography Conference;
  10. (h) whether surveying the British Continental Shelf to modern standards is viewed as part of the cost of the exploitation of the economic resources of the shelf, and if not why not;
  11. (i) whether the Department is being expanded to meet the new demand, arising out of worldwide 200 n.m. EEZ declarations, for hydrographic services and training in hydrography, and if so to what extent;
  12. (j) how many vessels does the Hydrographer now maintain over and above those required for the purposes of:
    1. (i) the Ministry of Defence,
    2. (ii) non-Defence purposes within United Kingdom jurisdiction,
    3. (iii) current overseas contracts,
    4. (iv) possible overseas contracts;
  13. (k) what Minister is responsible for defining the Hydrographer's non-defence rôle, and for seeing that the Department is appropriately funded both as regards capital expenditures for new vessels and on-shore facilities and cash flow and that its potential exploited is to the full.


I will write to my noble friend.

House adjourned at eleven minutes past nine o'clock.