HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 cc251-2W
Mr. Quinn

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how he proposes to carry out the review of offences relating to the entry into the sea of noxious, poisonous or polluting matter following marine casualties, which he announced in response to Lord Donaldson's report on salvage and intervention and their command and control. [103550]

Mr. Hill

My right hon. Friend has decided that the review should have the following terms of referenceTo review the basis of, and the systems for, prosecutions in the United Kingdom for offences related to the entry into the sea of noxious, poisonous or polluting matter following marine casualties. The Review will consider how these systems should reflect the public interest of having appropriate sanctions available under the criminal law in cases where such entry occurs while not discouraging appropriate prevention, salvage and clean-up operations.

The Review will focus on offences under Part III of the Water Resources Act 1991 in respect of England and Wales and Part VI of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, in so far as they relate to entry of such matter resulting from marine casualties and their associated salvage and clean-up operations.

The Review will also consider, in so far as it is appropriate to do so, the offence of public nuisance (including the statutory nuisance procedure) and offences relating to the entry of such matter from ships in cases which may not in themselves represent or follow marine casualties.

The results of the Review will also, if possible, take account of the outcome of the appeal against sentencing of Milford Haven Port Authority following its prosecution in connection with the Sea Empress casualty.

The Review will be carried out by a consultant, Mr. Colin Ingram, working under the supervision of a team of DETR officials. Since the Merchant Shipping legislation is a reserved matter, while the water legislation is a devolved matter, this team will need to work in close co-operation with the devolved administrations. All organisations that are known to have an interest will be invited to make submissions to the review. The invitation will also be posted on the DETR website, and we shall welcome other submissions.

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