§ Sir David Price
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made since the memorandum of understanding signed with the Bahamas in June 1988, in negotiating similar arrangements with other states operating open registries to help ensure the availability to Her Majesty's Government of flagged-out British ships in the event of war.
§ Mr. Portillo
On 20 February exchanges of letters were completed between representatives of Her Majesty's Government and both the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Vanuatu under which the Liberian and Vanuatuan Governments agree to allow British-owned ships on their registers, for which a contract of commitment exists, to be made available to Her Majesty's Government in the event of hostilities.
The contract of commitment is an agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the owner under which the shipowner agrees to make the named ships available to Her Majesty's Government in the event of hostilities and in return is guaranteed reinsurance by Her Majesty's Government against Queen's enemy war risks at that time. This would be carried out through one of the British war risks associations, with whom a revised agreement has recently been completed.
The Department will shortly be approaching British shipowners known to have ships on the two registers.