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Oral Answers to Questions — Merchant Shipping (Pilot Ladders) Rules 1965

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1970.

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Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe 12:00 am, 29th April 1970

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many consultations he has had with the Trinity House Pilots on his proposal to amend the Merchant Shipping (Pilot Ladders) Rules 1965 to give statutory effect to recommendations contained in Merchant Shipping Notice No. M.558 issued in June, 1969;

(2) why nine months have now elapsed since he undertook that a statutory instrument would shortly be laid amending the Merchant Shipping (Pilot Ladders) Rules 1965 to make compulsory the provision and firm securement of hand-hold stanchions in conjunction with bulwark ladders.

Photo of Mr Goronwy Roberts Mr Goronwy Roberts , Caernarvon

Merchant Shipping Notice M.558 was issued after consultation with interested organisations. These consultations led us to believe that the amendment would be immediately acceptable.

However, when we sought the views of Trinity House Pilotage Service on the proposed amendment, it indicated substantial disagreement with it. These differences have been explored in subsequent meetings, and the board has undertaken to reconsider its attitude in consultation with others concerned such as the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping. A further meeting with Trinity House and the pilots will be arranged as soon as these consultations have been completed.

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

Does the Minister appreciate how unsatisfactory this is? One pilot has already lost his life because this matter has not been settled. Surely the Minister will agree that the pilots should give advice on their own safety? A television programme on this subject has been broadcast, and I have been forced to use the Ten-minute Rule Bill procedure to bring in a Private Member's Bill to get the Board of Trade to do something about this.

Photo of Mr Goronwy Roberts Mr Goronwy Roberts , Caernarvon

It does not lie entirely either with the Board of Trade or with the pilots. Our object is to reconsider this decision, as I think the hon. Gentleman wishes us to do. For this purpose we must consult a fair range of interested parties in the industry as a whole. Once that is done, we shall have immediate talks with Trinity House and the pilots.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Are we to understand that disagreement was expressed by the Chamber of Shipping on behalf of shipowners in general on the ground of cost, and is not it shocking that the pilots' lives should be in jeopardy because of minor expenditure on the provision of the necessary equipment?

Photo of Mr Goronwy Roberts Mr Goronwy Roberts , Caernarvon

No. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the disagreement was not on cost; it was on technical points.