HC Deb 27 June 1996 vol 280 cc206-7W
Mr. David Shaw

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish a draft Merchant Shipping Bill; and if he will make a statement. [35243]

Sir George Young

A draft Merchant Shipping Bill has been published today for consultation, and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

The draft Bill contains clauses to implement those recommendations in Lord Donaldson's report "Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas", Cm 2560, which the Government accept and which require legislative change.

The draft Bill contains important provisions that will be widely welcomed. Taken with the measures already implemented since the Donaldson report, they represent a significant step forward in protecting the marine environment and raising safety standards.

The most important clauses cover: enabling powers to require ports to prepare waste management plans and to take other measures to improve provision and use of waste reception facilities, and increased fines for illegal discharge of waste all of which were part of the package of measures announced by my noble Friend the Minister for Aviation and Shipping on 24 January; temporary exclusion zones at sea to allow safety zones to be placed around shipping casualties or structures on grounds of safety and/or pollution; widening intervention powers to cover all cases of significant degrees of pollution, not just pollution "on a large scale" as at present; enabling powers to change shipowners for port state control inspections, emergency response measures and standard setting activity; and enabling powers to implement new instruments providing for improved compensation payments to victims of marine pollution.

The draft Bill also proposes a number of minor amendments to merchant shipping legislation.

My Department is also publishing today consultation papers on sub-standard and uninsured ships and on the responsibilities of local authorities and port authorities in oil pollution response. Subject to the outcome of consultation on these papers, further draft clauses will be prepared as appropriate.