asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many nations whose ships fly flags of convenience have so far failed to ratify the International Convention on the prevention of pollution of the sea by oil; what proportion of the world's tonnage they represent; and what steps are being taken to persuade those who have not yet done so to ratify the Convention before it becomes operative in July next.
None of these countries, whose ships account for about 13 per cent. of world tonnage, has yet ratified the Convention.
The Convention remains open for acceptance after it has come into force, and my right hon. Friend will then consider making a further approach to the countries which have not ratified it.
Is not the Minister treating this matter very lightly? These ships flying flags of convenience are getting a great advantage over those which are complying with the regulations. Will he press those people now outside, including America, because the United States has not yet ratified the Convention, and cannot he do something to get them to ratify it before it comes into operation in July of next year?
My right hon. Friend is well aware of the importance of this question. The countries which have not ratified the Convention have already been asked their intentions, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we will make further approaches at the appropriate time.
Will the Joint Parliamentary Secretary consider that another way of getting these countries to ratify the Convention would be by approaching the large oil companies, over which we have some influence, and asking them if, when chartering ships, they will make this a condition of charter?