HC Deb 25 July 1979 vol 971 cc264-5W
Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement about the maritime radio services.

Mr. Adam Butler

The Government recognise the importance of maritime radio communications for ships at sea. The shipping industry, which is a major contributor to the United Kingdom economy, is, in common with the fishing industry, entirely dependent on radio communications as a means of conducting business, for social contact and, most importantly, for overall safety communications. Once a ship has sailed there is no other means of communication avail able to shipowners, ship masters, crew members or the general public and their familes.

The Government accordingly attach great importance to the part played by the Post Office's maritime radio services and the obligatory distress watch provided by the Post Office and Her Majesty's Coastguard, as well as the safety survey carried out on ships' equipment.

More generally, the Government have been playing an active role in the formation of the International Maritime Satellite Organisation—INMARSAT—and the United Kingdom delegation to the world administrative radio con ference—WARC—to be held later this year will be stressing the importance of providing sufficient frequencies for the terrestrial and satellite services to meet the expanding maritime radio frequency requirements.