HC Deb 24 March 1986 vol 94 cc363-4W
Mr. Sayeed

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has considered the recommendations made by the Transport Committee in its report on marine pilotage; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ridley

I have now considered the report of the House of Commons Transport Committee on marine pilotage. The Committee's report contains a careful analysis of this complex subject, and, together with the minutes of evidence and appendices, provides a most useful source of information about it. I welcome in particular the Committee' s recognition of the need for urgent reform of the present administrative structure of pilotage, and its endorsement of the central proposal in the Green Paper which I published in December 1984, that pilotage should become the responsibility of harbour authorities.

The report contains 26 main recommendations. The Government's responses to these recommendations are contained in a detailed memorandum of which I have placed a copy in the Library. The memorandum is also being sent to the principal bodies interested in pilotage: further copies are available on request from the Department of Transport.

In considering how to take forward the reform of pilotage administration, I have taken careful account of the many comments received in response to the Green Paper, and I am grateful to all those who responded. Having considered these responses, and the Committee's report, I can confirm that I intend to introduce legislation as soon as possible to provide for the transfer of pilotage responsibility to harbour authorities, for the abolition of the existing pilotage authorities and the Pilotage Commission, and for the repeal of most of the present complex legislative provisions governing pilotage. The legislation will provide for a statutory compensation scheme to be available for pilots whose services will no longer be required under the new regime. Further details of the Government's proposals are included in the memorandum.

As the Transport Committee noted, a number of draft byelaws and pilotage orders were prepared by pilotage authorities, with the aim of securing reorganisation under the existing legislation. These were submitted to my Department, but in view of objections that were raised against them by the various interested parties, and because of the developing uncertainty about the future of pilotage administration, my predecessors and I have taken decisions on very few of them. Following my announcement that the Government intend to proceed with early legislation the Department of Transport will now return the outstanding orders and byelaws to the authorities, and will invite them to consider whether they still wish to promote them, in whole or in part, so that they can take effect during the interim period before the new arrangements can come into effect.

In considering any orders or draft byelaws which are resubmitted, or submitted for the first time, I will be minded to approve proposals consistent with the policies outlined in the Government's response to the recommendations of the Transport Committee. I will also seek the views of the local harbour authority, or authorities, on whether the proposals in question are consistent with the pilotage regime which the authority is likely to introduce following implementation of the legislation, and I will give due weight to those views.