HL Deb 27 June 1996 vol 573 cc68-9WA
Lord Bcabazon of Tara

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to publish a draft Merchant Shipping Bill.

Viscount Goschen

A draft Merchant Shipping Bill has been published today for consultation; 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 which will be widely welcomed. Taken together 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:

  1. (a) Enabling powers to require ports to prepare waste management plans and to take other measures to improve provision and use of waste WA 69 reception facilities, and increased fines for illegal discharge of waste (part of the package of measures announced on 24th January);
  2. (b) Temporary exclusion zones at sea to allow safety zones to be placed around shipping casualties or structures on grounds of safety and/or pollution;
  3. (c) Widening intervention powers to cover all cases of significant degrees of pollution, not just pollution "on a large scale" as at present;
  4. (d) Enabling powers to charge shipowners for port state control inspections, emergency response measures and standard setting activity;
  5. (e) Enabling powers to implement new instruments providing for improved compensation payments to victims of marine pollution.

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

We are 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.