HL Deb 27 June 1996 vol 573 cc67-8WA
Lord Brabazon of Tara

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What will be the impact of the recent Stockholm Agreement on safety standards on ferries operating to and from the United Kingdom.

Viscount Goshen

The Stockholm Agreement is a major achievement. It will provide substantial extra protection for those who travel on ro-ro ferries. Ferries operating to and from United Kingdom ports must demonstrate, within a tight timescale, both that they meet a stringent basic survivability standard and that they can cope with a considerable amount of water on the car deck.

The requirements of this significant agreement go beyond the worldwide application of the demanding SOLAS 90 standard, as agreed in the International Maritime Organisation last November. Ferries connecting ports in the United Kingdom with neighbouring countries will meet a higher standard for seagoing voyages than similar vessels operating outside the specified area, as will those on similar UK domestic services.

A list of ferries, showing the dates by which each must meet the new standard, has been published today. Copies of the list have been placed in the Library.

The list shows that about one hundred seagoing passenger ro-ro ferries currently serve United Kingdom ports. The majority of these vessels already have such a high survival capability that further limited modification is not required until the latter part of the agreed timescale. This shows the robustness of the ro-ro fleet, which will be fortified yet further by the application of the new standard.