§ Mr. Goodlad
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the outcome of the European conference on maritime safety held in Paris on 1 and 2 December.
§ Mr. Tebbit
The European conference on maritime safety convened on the initiative of the French Government, was attended by 13 countries, the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO), the International Labour Office (ILO), and by the European Commission.
I will place a copy of the English text of the final declaration of the conference in the library of the House as soon as possible.
The conference had two main themes: the speedier ratification of maritime safety and pollution prevention conventions, in order to bring them into force as early as possible; and measures to improve port State enforcement of safety standards on visiting foreign ships.
Countries taking part in the conference undertook to initiate before 1 July 1981 legal procedures leading to the ratification, acceptance or adoption of the conventions in question, if that had not already been done, and to have 43W them finalised, subject to the constraints of national Parliaments, by the end of 1981. I was able to announce that the United Kingdom had just ratified ILO Convention No. 147 concerning minimum standards on merchant ships and that, as a result, that convention will come into force 12 months hence.
I was also able to announce that the United Kingdom had just ratified the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978, and thereby became the first country to have ratified every IMCO maritime safety and pollution prevention convention.
There was a consensus that it was necessary to increase the effectiveness of port State enforcement. A working group was established, charged to present its conclusions by 1 July 1981.
I fully supported this consensus, and announced that we planned, within existing resources, to inspect in 1981 at least twice as many foreign ships visiting our ports as we have inspected this year.