HC Deb 04 June 1997 vol 295 c200W
Mr. Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how his Department will enforce the implementation of British Marine Safety Agency staffing requirements and the new EU VAT directives. [1429]

Ms Glenda Jackson

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Marine Safety Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from R. M. Bradley to Mr. Andrew George, dated 4 June 1997: The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has asked me to reply to your Question about the enforcement of UK qualification requirements for masters and officers of large privately-owned commercially-operated yachts. It may be helpful if I summarise the background. Until recently, masters and officers on vessels of this kind were required to comply with the deck officer qualification requirements in UK merchant shipping regulations. Many people working in the professional yachting industry, however, found it impossible to obtain the necessary certificates because they had come to professional yachting from leisure yachting and could not meet the requirement to have worked on merchant navy vessels for a minimum specified period. In consequence, the regulation were not being observed. This resulted in substantial variations in the standards of competence of officers working on these vessels. Therefore, in consultation with the industry, sail training organisations and the Warsash Maritime Operations Centre, the Agency has developed an alternative qualification. This is the Deck Officer Class 5 (or 4) with command endorsement and is limited to yachts and sail training vessels. It requires a base qualification of the Royal Yachting Association/Department of Transport certificate of competence Yachtmaster Offshore (or Ocean) with commercial endorsement. This is more readily obtainable by those who work in the professional yachting industry and, when allied with a number of additional mandatory training modules, provides the knowledge and experience which we and the industry consider necessary for the safe operation of these large yachts. It can be seen that the MSA has worked closely with industry and other interested parties to develop a qualification which will be relevant to the operation of these vessels. You should also be aware that this Code and the associated qualifications for the Masters and Officers will be adopted by the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Isle of Man and, in due course the British Virgin Islands. Our approach on enforcement will be to allow our recognised classification societies to carry out the survey and certification of vessels classed with them. The enforcement of these requirements will in general be through our usual practice of inspecting both ships and the service providers to ensure that the standards are being complied with. However we would envisage further discussions with the industry and all other interested parties on the details of the enforcement regime to be employed in view of the distribution of the vessels throughout the world. I am sorry I cannot comment on the new EU VAT Directive which falls outside my areas of responsibility. May I suggest that you direct this enquiry to HM Custom and Excise.

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