HC Deb 12 March 2001 vol 364 c469W
Maria Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made in implementing measures to tackle alcohol and drug abuse in the maritime sector; and if he will make a statement. [153376]

Mr. Hill

The Queen's Speech on 6 December outlined the Government's intention to draft a Safety Bill. We will use this opportunity to introduce a prescribed blood/alcohol limit for professional and recreational mariners with accompanying powers for the police to test suspects. We also intend to take permissive powers to allow testing for drugs.

We propose to set a 80 mg per 100 ml blood/alcohol limit for mariners of all types of civil waterborne transport in UK waters, including non-UK vessels. It will be illegal for mariners, on duty, on board any commercial vessel or fishing vessel to be above the limit or to be unfit to fulfil their duties due to being intoxicated through drink. In the interest of passenger safety on passenger vessels or ferries the limit will apply to off-duty crew having a safety critical function in the event of an emergency. Those involved in the navigation or propulsion of recreational craft while in motion and not moored will also be included.

The proposed measures follow from recommendations made by Lord Justice Clarke in his Thames Safety Inquiry report published in December 1999 and a consultation exercise conducted by my Department last year. Responses to the consultation paper were largely supportive of the proposals and a summary has been placed in the Library of the House and a compilation of the full response is available in my Department's library.