Seafarers’ Wages Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:42 pm on 20th July 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 5:42 pm, 20th July 2022

Is it not really about the service? We cannot legislate for UK workers working in international waters or in any country in the world. That is what we must balance here. If we wanted to include cruises, we would have to include every vessel that pops into UK waters. The administration of that would blow up; it is not going to work. We will debate this in Committee, but I think we have reached the right balance. I do not know that noble Lords will be able to convince me that we have not, but I am willing to let them try.

I turn briefly to enforcement, which is a really important point. This is where the MCA will step up to enforce the system as a whole. We expect the cost of enforcement to be about £359,000 over 10 years. That is a relatively small amount in the context of the work of the MCA, because it can be done alongside its many other inspections.

The framework around the surcharges will be set out in secondary legislation. The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, was concerned about the ports setting the surcharge, but they will not. If a port for whatever reason had a ship approach and thought, “That’s a friendly ship; we’re not going to charge it a surcharge”, the Secretary of State could direct it to charge the surcharge. That gets round the issue where you might have a port and a ferry service operated by the same operator. The Secretary of State’s beady eye will be there to make sure that it does as it should.

I will come to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, about minimum fines. The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, raised a point about a port being an enforcement authority; it definitely is not going to be. The noble Baroness, Lady Scott, asked about criminal charges. It will be for the ship operator, which is standard for maritime, to suffer any penalties relating to the Bill.

I am going to finish off with my favourite topic—secondary legislation. I think someone said “good”; I am not sure who it was. I am really offended, but I am going to talk about secondary legislation just so we can suffer a little longer. This is important because I have noted that Grand Committee is on 15 September, and we will not have full draft regulations by then. I am sort of thinking that this is probably not the worst idea in the world. We will have detailed policy notes, but as we go through Committee and debate the sorts of things we are proposing to put into secondary legislation, I think having detailed policy notes will be sufficient to aid our thinking, and issues may certainly come up in the discussion that we may want to reflect in the regulations or perhaps draft the regulations in a slightly different way.

I believe I have covered some of the questions asked by noble Lords today.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Grand Committee.