Shipping Safety (Donaldson Report)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:46 am on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara , Knowsley South 10:46 am, 28th June 1995

I noted and approved of that, but it is just a small step down the road that the Government need to tread if they are to redress the drastic decline, not only in the British merchant fleet but in the quality of crews that man that fleet.

The subject of ship work conditions is related to the quality of crews and safety on board ships. Here again, an aspect of Government policy militates against safe working on British ships. I understand that the Government are the only European Union Government who have not yet implemented the International Labour Organisation convention 147 of 1976 on minimum standards in merchant ships, which relates to work conditions on board, to rest periods, and, obviously, to safety at sea.

The Government may well respond to the Donaldson report, but they lack a coherent strategy for the maritime industry. Various aspects of that industry have been mentioned—the offshore and deep-sea trades, and coastal and ferry ships. If the Government had a coherent strategy, which dealt with various aspects of their policy on safety at sea, we would be far more liable to avoid the spectacle of such disasters as the Braer.