§ Ms. Walley
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to implement the recommendations in the joint Government/industry working party report on "British Shipping: Challenges and Opportunities".
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The joint working party made five basic recommendations, covering simplification of the procedures and regulations surrounding registration; review of the nationality rules applying to officers on British ships; creation of a more flexible framework for registration law; continued pressure to secure liberalisation of cabotage, and a more competitive financial framework, in Europe; and emphasis on raising the profile, and revising the structure, of marine training.
Under the first of these, a number of changes have already been achieved, including the introduction of simplified procedures and regulations regarding the type approval of ships' equipment, and the establishment of arrangements under which surveyors in the British dependent territories can survey vessels on behalf of the United Kingdom where this is more convenient for the owners or operators of the vessels concerned.
We are also nearing completion of a review of the nationality requirements imposed on senior British Merchant Navy officers; and have continued to press for a more liberal competitive environment in Europe.
Changes to registration law need primary legislation, for which we are seeking an early opportunity. In the meantime, considerable preparatory work has already been undertaken.
The final recommendation, focussed on training, is primarily a matter for the shipping industry itself, although the Government are closely involved in a current review of the structure of seafarers' training and certification. The Chamber of Shipping last year produced a report setting out its wider thoughts on future training needs. It has also assured us that the industry continues to attach great importance to the subject.