HC Deb 27 July 1983 vol 46 c480W
Sir David Price

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will reverse his predecessor's decision that reorganisation of the London pilotage district should be carried out before any other of the 80 pilotage districts are dealt with in view of the consequential holdup in the remainder of the United Kingdom;

(2) when he expects to approve the proposals for the reorganisation of the Isle of Wight pilotage district.

Mr. David Mitchell

My noble Friend Lord Trefgarne decided in August 1981 that he would prefer not to reach conclusions on the draft byelaws introducing important changes for the Isle of Wight pilotage district, among others, that had been put to him, until he had considered the Pilotage Commission's views on the proposals for the London district, together with the public's reaction to them.

In April 1982 the commission put its recommendations to the then Under-Secretary of State for Trade. I understand he was advised, however, that the principal element of these recommendations — that pilotage certificates should be issued without examination—was ultra vires the Pilotage Act 1913. It was therefore necessary to devise alternative proposals if the matter was to be taken forward. This task fell to the Department of Trade. It took several months and was further complicated by the examination given to the linked problem of compensation for surplus pilots. It now falls to me to look urgently at these complex and difficult matters and I hope to reach conclusions before too long. I am conscious of the delay that has been incurred and of the anxiety that prevails amongst all concerned with pilotage matters. I am, however, no less conscious of the deep divisions between the parties and of the acute difficulty of reaching conclusions that will prove generally acceptable.

Against that background I do not think it would be any easier to reach equitable arrangements for the Isle of Wight, or the other major pilotage districts, than it would be for London. And because of the size of the London district, and the volume and variety of its shipping, I tend to my predecessor's view that the conclusions reached on it are likely to be of general application, and so should preferably be taken first.