HL Deb 03 November 1983 vol 444 cc685-6WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government: How many merchant ship registers, as well as the British and those of Hong Kong, Bermuda, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man, are now in operation under Her Majesty's Government's auspices; what control Her Majesty's Government exercises in all these cases, directly or indirectly, to ensure that the link between the register and the ship is "close" and that all appropriate national and international standards (including those of the Health and Safety Executive and the International Labour Office and International Maritime Organisation) are fully and continuously complied with; and which Whitehall departments are in charge of overseeing these various registers.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Facilities for the registration of ships are available in the following British Islands and Dependent Territories in addition to the United Kingdom Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Montserrat, St. Helena and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The qualifications for owning and registering British ships in any of these territories are those set out in Part I of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, but international conventions relating to the safety of ships, the prevention of pollution, and other shipping matters have been extended only to those territories which have the professional and administrative staff needed to implement them.

This is not a satisfactory situation, and the Government will seek to ensure that all ships entitled to fly the British flag are subject to the same requirements as those on the United Kingdom register. Proposals to that effect were contained in a consultative document issued by the Department of Trade at the end of 1981, and have since been pursued in detailed bilateral talks with the territories concerned, with a view to making suitable provision in forthcoming legislation. The responsibility for shipping and ship registration now rests with the Department of Transport.