§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in implementing the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea. 
§ Mr. Jamieson
The UK signed the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (the HNS Convention), subject to ratification, in October 1996 as a sign of intent to proceed to ratification. The necessary enabling legislation was incorporated into the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997. Certain areas of the Convention are inconsistent with equivalent provisions that exist under EU Council Regulation 44/ 2001. Until this conflict was resolved by means of EU Council Decision (2002/971/EC) of 18 November 2002, the UK was not authorised to ratify the Convention.
My Department has recently conducted the first phase of public consultation on the implementation and ratification of the HNS Convention. The responses to the consultation are currently being analysed and work has commenced on the preparation of the draft legislation required to implement the Convention. The next stage will be a public consultation on the draft legislation, this should take place early this summer with a view to obtaining parliamentary approval in the autumn and ratification of the Convention before the end of the year.
The HNS Convention will not enter into force until 18 months after the date on which at least 12 States are party to the Convention and certain thresholds relating to quantities of hazardous and noxious substances imported by those States have been reached. There are currently four States party to the HNS Convention: Angola, Morocco, the Russian Federation and Tonga.