§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what controls on standards of safety his Department exercises over ships sailing under flags of convenience in British and EC waters; and how these are monitored and satisfied.
§ Mr. Norris
The United Kingdom takes a leading role within the International Maritime Organisation in developing internationally agreed safety standards and ensuring the implementation of those standards by every flag state. In addition, the United Kingdom and 14 other European countries, including all the EC coastal states, operate a co-ordinated system of inspection of foreign ships entering their ports. Each member of this system, known as the memorandum of understanding on port state control—MOU—has agreed to inspect 25 per cent. of individual ships calling at their ports. The United Kingdom has set a higher target of 30 per cent. and in recent years this has been met. It is estimated that around 85 per cent. of foreign ships entering the MOU region as a whole are inspected at least once annually. Within this system, those ships flying the flags of countries with poor safety records are, from July this year, to be selected for special attention.