Clause 1 - Safety directions

Marine Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 29th April 2003.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

It is a great pleasure to see you at this special sitting of Standing Committee E, Mr. Hurst, as most private Members' business goes to Standing Committee C. I am grateful to the powers that be for allowing me this opportunity in Committee, which has perhaps come earlier than expected.

May I thank Members for agreeing to sit on the Committee and the Bill's sponsors for their support on Second Reading? May I also thank my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Transport and all his officials, including the Secretary of State's representative, who is with us today, for their work in helping me to prepare for debates on Second Reading and in Committee? My thanks also go to the Whips, my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) and the hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Simpson) for facilitating the passage of their Bills on Second Reading to allow my Bill, which was third on the list that day in February, to be considered in Committee.

The United Kingdom probably has a better set-up than any other country in the world for dealing with incidents that endanger life at sea and, particularly, that pollute the sea. That is a commendation to successive Ministers in successive Governments and to the officials who have got us into that position. Two very small pieces of the jigsaw would make matters even better and certainly put us top of the league—many other countries are watching what Britain is doing.

We have reached such a position because of three major disasters that occurred around the 10,000 miles of British coastline. Going back 40 years, there was the famous disaster involving the Torrey Canyon, which went aground as it entered the English channel. That ship's name is branded on the mind of everybody in Britain and that disaster made the Government sit up and think about marine pollution, the danger to life at sea and introducing legislation.

A major disaster involving the Braer occurred in the Shetland islands in 1993. It was followed by an important report by Lord Donaldson that led to legislation, although we discovered that that legislation did not go far enough.

The milestone was the Sea Empress disaster, which occurred in Milford Haven sound in 1996. Lord Donaldson produced another report, ''Command and Control: Report of Lord Donaldson's Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control'', which was published in 1999. Even before that publication, the Government were taking forward legislation, which has led us to the much safer position that we are in today. Thus, two small pieces of the jigsaw are incomplete, however. One concerns the SOSREP and is addressed by clause 1, and the other concerns firefighting at sea, which is addressed by clause 2. I shall explain both clauses.

May I recommend to members of the Committee a written ministerial statement, which was made on 14 January by the Minister, entitled Transport (Braer Oil Spill)? I found it very useful, because it lists all the measures that successive Governments have taken, which have made Britain top dog in respect of safety at sea.

Under section 137 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as amended, the Secretary of State or his representative, known as the SOSREP, may give directions to the owner, master or pilot of a ship, to any salvor in possession of the ship or, if the ship is in waters that are regulated or managed by a harbour authority, even to the harbourmaster or to the harbour authority. The power may be used to prevent or minimise pollution or the threat of pollution following a maritime incident.

Clause 1 refers to schedule 1, which is an integral part of the clause. Paragraph 1 of schedule 1 would extend the Secretary of State's powers to issue directions to prevent or reduce a risk to safety, not just to prevent pollution. However, he cannot at present issue a direction to the riparian owners or managers of facilities such as berths, wharves or jetties to make their facilities available so that action may be taken to help the vessel.

On Second Reading, I referred to a tanker coming in, again to Milford Haven sound, that was almost pushed back out to sea in the eye of a gale. The SOSREP had the power to direct that it be brought into safe water—a place of refuge—but he did not have the power to unload it on the private oil jetty in Milford Haven sound to which it was initially heading. If it had gone out to sea in the eye of a gale with its faulty engine, there may have been a disaster. Fortunately, the SOSREP can give directions irrespective of the Minister. He has the power to bring together all the agencies under his remit and direct them to make a ship safe, and to keep other ships away from the ship in danger.

The Bill would make good the deficiency to which I have just referred. Paragraph 2 of schedule 1 would confer power on the Secretary of State to give directions to those in charge of land or coastal premises to make facilities such as berths, wharves and jetties available to reduce or prevent the risk of pollution or risks to safety. Paragraph 15 of the schedule would make provision for the Secretary of State properly to compensate for loss or damage if a facility stops carrying out its normal day-to-day business due to a direction from the Secretary of

State or the SOSREP to accept a stricken vessel. That is right and just. Furthermore, the provision is necessary to comply with the requirements of the European convention on human rights.

Fortunately, we anticipate that the occasions on which the power would be exercised would be few and far between—perhaps fewer than a handful in a year. Largely for that reason, it is difficult to predict with any accuracy the compensation involved. That would depend on the type of facility affected, the availability of alternative facilities to the owners and, of course, how long the casualty occupied the facility. Far greater compensation may be involved with a jetty that serves an oil refinery than with a jetty that is used occasionally for leisure purposes.

However, the cost of dealing with oil spills can run into many millions of pounds. At today's values, the 1967 Torrey Canyon disaster and the clean-up of the resulting spillage would probably cost some £76 million. If the measure were used just once to prevent a large spillage, the savings would far outweigh the compensation costs.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence)

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what would happen if a tanker were holed near such a facility and the Secretary of State or the SOSREP wanted to direct it to accept the ship, even though it was leaking polluted material?

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

My Bill would empower the SOSREP to make the owners accept such a ship. The obvious thing to do would be to get as much oil as possible off the ship, were it an oil tanker, before it heavily polluted the harbour or the sea. I should refer at this point to the famous Prestige disaster, which is still ongoing. That ship got into trouble off the Spanish coast a few months ago and requested permission to enter a place of refuge. We cannot say with certainty, but if that ship had entered a place of refuge, the disaster that ultimately occurred would probably not have happened. That ship was not holed, but, to answer the hon. Gentleman, even if it had been it would have been sensible to bring it to a place of refuge rather than have the resulting disaster.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence)

To finish the point, my concern is this: if pollution begins while such a ship is outside the port, the facility's owners may say that if they bring it in it will spread massive pollution in the port, but the Secretary of State might decide that it is nevertheless in the national interest to bring that ship in. Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that his legislation would deal with such a dilemma?

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

The current situation, and that which would exist were the Bill enacted, is that the SOSREP views the individual situation and, with all his experience of incidents so far dealt with, makes a decision depending on the weather and other conditions pertaining to that vessel. I cannot say what would happen in any individual case, as I am not a person with marine efficiency, but the information will be available for the SOSREP to make those decisions and deal with the ship.

Photo of Gwyn Prosser Gwyn Prosser Labour, Dover

Is it not the case that if the port were as well equipped as the port of Dover, the equipment for oil booms, oil containment and oil

spillage prevention would be in place? That port, working with the Minister and the Secretary of State's authority, would contain the oil by using booms and then bring the ship safely into its refuge.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that valid point. Yes, that is the case. Dover is one example of a port that operates very efficiently in that respect, but, of course, a disaster might not occur anywhere around the 10,000 miles of British coast, including one involving an oil tanker.

Photo of Mr Ivan Henderson Mr Ivan Henderson Labour, Harwich

Does my hon. Friend also agree that most port authorities have emergency plans to deal with such incidents? All authorities are involved in that and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Prosser) said, many emergency services, coastguards and even voluntary marine services have the equipment to go out and deal with incidents in the harbour and outside it. We have excellent experience to call on in such events.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

That is correct. Indeed, there is a national contingency plan for marine pollution from shipping and offshore installations in which all the agencies to which my hon. Friends have referred participate.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I support the provision, but in respect of an incident such as that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), if a stricken vessel were brought into a port that did not have the most up-to-date facilities and pollution was caused, would the Bill have enough power to provide compensation for the whole affected area? Who could assess the environmental damage and cost, rather than simply provide incidental clean-up?

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

My understanding is that the Bill would give the Secretary of State the power to compensate only the owners of the facilities if a direction is given to bring a ship into a wharf, jetty or other coastal facility. However, I shall defer to my hon. Friend the Minister's greater knowledge and hope that he comments on the hon. Gentleman's question.

The new provisions in the schedule would work as follows. The first would extend the Secretary of State's powers to issue directions to reduce the risk to safety, not just to reduce the risk of pollution. The second would enable the Secretary of State to serve directions on riparian owners. The third would enable riparian owners to claim compensation for the shipowners after the serving of an order. The other provisions would consolidate powers under existing legislation and bring them together in one place. The provisions in the schedule are shorter and crisper, and would be more easily understood by people using the legislation.

Several hon. Members rose—

Photo of Mr Alan Hurst Mr Alan Hurst Labour, Braintree 2:45 pm, 29th April 2003

Order. For ease of consideration, I will permit references to schedule 1, because of the interconnection.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) on making such significant progress with the Bill and I wish him the best of success and the necessary

Government support to see it through. He rightly referred to the Torrey Canyon incident in 1967, which took place in the extreme west of my constituency off the Bishop rock. Many people will remember that. I was very young then, but I recollect the effect of that pollution incident.

Recently, I wrote to the Minister on the grounding of the RMS Mulheim on 22 March at Sennen cove in the west of my constituency. That incident raises many questions on the clause. The hon. Gentleman or the Minister may like to comment about the assumption in the Bill that the skipper of a stricken vessel or a vessel in trouble would seek aid as soon as possible. Although we do not know for certain about the Mulheim—indeed, we require the benefit of further inquiries—it appears that the first mayday in respect of its grounding came extremely late. The question is whether the Secretary of State's powers are sufficient to enable him to get involved when the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or other emergency service is aware of the position, and whether he can intervene before the skipper gives the authority or an indication that the vessel requires assistance.

Most of my points relate to the powers of a fire authority, so I will not deal with them now. However, one relevant aspect is that the powers in the clause enable the Secretary of State to bring a vessel alongside in a safe haven, whether that is a jetty or port. I seek advice from the Minister or the hon. Gentleman. Is the intention that the powers in the clause should also apply to fire authorities under clause 2? In dealing with a fire incident, do fire authorities have the same authority to tow vessels into their area that the Secretary of State appears to have? They may find that that is safer and more appropriate, both from the point of view of salvage and the safety of individuals. I will quote a relevant case later. I apologise if I am straying into a discussion of clause 2 but it struck me that there is a potential contradiction in relation to the powers of the Secretary of State in clause 1. If it is required, I will be happy to expand on that in a stand part debate on clause 2.

I have no further comments to make, other than to congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East and to support the purpose of clause 1.

Photo of Gwyn Prosser Gwyn Prosser Labour, Dover

I welcome these further measures. I doubt whether they will be called upon many times, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East acknowledged in this sitting and on Second Reading. Nevertheless, they are necessary additions to the tools and resources that we have for combating pollution at sea and around our waterways and coastlines.

I have the privilege of representing the constituency of Dover, which houses the busiest ferry port in the world, and I venture to say that if all ports acted in the same mature and responsible way as the port of Dover in giving refuge and support to passing vessels regardless of whether they are storm-damaged, in need of support or leaking oil, there would not be a great need to change the law by introducing these powers. However, not all ports act in that way—certainly not all ports outside the United Kingdom—

so it is important to close that loophole, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East said.

From my own partisan point of view, at least in future, when my port of Dover gives support to vessels with pollution problems, or where there is a threat that local waterways will be polluted, it will have the satisfaction that there is a guarantee that it will be enable to seek proper compensation and that its action will not be taken for granted. I welcome the clause.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge

I again congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East on getting his private Member's Bill to this stage, and I wish him well throughout the rest of its course. The general mood is that things are going well, but I warn him that sometimes problems are just around the corner.

I hope that the Bill succeeds, not only because it is thoroughly worth while and good and I have a strong interest in trying to stem marine pollution around our coasts, but because the Friday afternoon when the Bill received its Second Reading represented the height of my political career, as I briefly spoke from the Dispatch Box. I am sure that that will go down in the history of Uxbridge as one of the highlights of its Member of Parliament's time in this House.

It is with relief that I now speak from the comfort of the Back Benches on this matter, and with that in mind I will not expand too much. However, I wish to refer to one point that was raised by Opposition Members, and particularly by the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George). From a logistical point of view, I wonder how quickly some of these things may be capable of being put into operation. If a coastguard sees a stricken vessel, there may be some slight problems in trying to rouse from his slumbers, probably not the Secretary of State, but his representative, to ensure that the direction comes into effect quickly. Although I am a land-lubber, with regard to getting a vessel into safe haven, I would have thought that speed is of the essence, particularly if there is a storm.

I wish the Bill every success, with the proviso that normally when hon. Members all agree about something, it is time for us to have another look at it and not to let something slip through that has not been examined properly.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

May I say what a pleasure it is to sit on a Committee with you in the Chair, Mr. Hurst, keeping a careful eye on us? I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East not only on securing the Bill—I congratulated him on that on Second Reading—but on seeing it through this far. Having seen a piece of private Member's legislation through the House, I know what a precarious passage it travels—more precarious than some of the seas around our coast. I know that it can crash on the rocks very easily—[Hon. Members: ''More.''] I just know how difficult the job can be, and it is my hon. Friend's personal qualities that have ensured that the Bill has got this far.

It is good to see so many hon. Members here from both sides of the House. We all have an interest in the sea and safety at sea, but it is good to see so many hon.

Members with close constituency interests in the sea. I do not know how near Bolton is to the sea, but nowhere in England is far from it, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East has a long-standing personal interest in the issue.

I shall make a few general remarks, as I should like to set the provisions of this small but important Bill in the wider context of the United Kingdom's law and practice relating to maritime safety and the protection of our seas and coasts. In the United Kingdom, we have 10,000 miles of coastline. We are adjacent to one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, the English channel, and there are 400 vessel movements per day through the Dover straits—I notice that many of the constituencies of Committee members are near that area. Consequently, we have made preventing and deterring pollution one of our highest priorities. During the past 10 years, we have taken many statutory and non-statutory steps to deal with the risks of pollution of our seas, coasts and shipping.

My hon. Friend made it clear that, because of the Braer, the Sea Empress, the Erica and the Torrey Canyon—I was slightly older than my hon. Friend when that ran into difficulties off the Isles of Scilly—we all know too well the huge environmental damage that such accidents can cause. In his review of the salvage and intervention in the wake of the Sea Empress incident, Lord Donaldson recommended that the ultimate control of any salvage operation, where there is a threat of significant pollution to the United Kingdom environment, must be exercised by the Secretary of State's representative on maritime salvage and intervention—the SOSREP—acting in an overriding public interest.

We formally introduced the role of the SOSREP in 1999, and he has the power to oversee, control and intervene in salvage operations in United Kingdom waters involving vessels or fixed platforms where there is a significant risk of pollution. The SOSREP role has proved useful and successful—of course, that is an international first for the United Kingdom. The powers of direction invested in him are called into play when he believes that the public interest is not being adequately protected. Although they are extensive, they are not as wide as they should be, which is why the Bill is so important. The Bill will give the SOSREP those additional powers that he needs.

The hon. Member for New Forest, East referred to the SOSREP. One of the great advantages of his position in this country is that he is separated from direct political control. It is not the Secretary of State or a maritime Minister who makes the decision; it is in the hands of someone who is independent. The SOSREP analyses the situation, then makes a decision. That decision may be difficult or, as the hon. Member for New Forest, East suggested, unpopular along parts of the coast, but he has to make a decision in the greater marine interest. For example, in the case of the Prestige, he must examine how the decision was taken and ask whether that was in the greater interests of the coasts of Spain and France. I will not attempt to answer that question. There would have been some pollution if that ship had been brought to a place of safety and had been put

somewhere where it did not break up, but that pollution would have been contained within a smaller area. My hon. Friend the Member for Dover referred to his own port, which has excellent facilities for dealing with such a disaster, not that it would wish that upon itself. Nevertheless, a small amount of temporary damage in one area may have the effect of not polluting a much wider area.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) asked about compensation. Compensation can be given to the facility owner. The hon. Gentleman also alluded to the environmental damage and the powers in relation to it. The ship's insurers will eventually pay the compensation, unless, of course, the SOSREP had given a direction that could be shown to be unreasonable in law. That provision is contained in the legislation. In that case, it would fall on the Secretary of State.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence) 3:00 pm, 29th April 2003

A thought has occurred to me. The facilities may be polluted or at least used in a way in which their owners would not want them to be used, thus causing economic loss. Given that those owners will be able to rely on the Government to compensate them fairly speedily, does the Minister envisage those owners, who under normal circumstances prior to the legislation may have been willing to invite the ships in and take their chance with them because they needed to help them, wanting to ensure that they did not invite any ships to use their facilities until they got clearance from the SOSREP, thus slowing down the process?

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

That is an interesting idea, but it will not work that way. It is up to the SOSREP to decide where the ship has to go. He would obviously liaise with the owner of the particular facility, but it would be his decision as to where that ship was placed. The sort of bargaining to which the hon. Gentleman referred would not necessarily be relevant, but it is an interesting idea.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge

Before we move on, there is a point to be made. I presume that if a stricken vessel made representations to a commercial jetty to come in, that jetty would not receive any compensation but would have to negotiate a fee beforehand. If it subsequently found that it had incurred a loss, it would be less inclined to do things commercially, but would have to wait for the SOSREP to make the instruction because the money would be coming from the Government.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The hon. Gentleman is right in that there will be instances where the SOSREP will not be involved and where the incident will handle itself. I suspect that that will be so in most cases. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dover said, this will be a rarely used but extremely important power. There will be minor incidents in which minor damage has been caused, which will be dealt with in the usual way. The ship owner will make arrangements with whatever facility he enters to pay the requisite amount for repairs and for any damage that the ship causes. The Bill ensures that the SOSREP can give a facility a direction to take a stricken ship that it cannot refuse, and gives the power for the facility to receive compensation for any damage that may be done.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence)

May I pursue just one more tack? There may be a fairly large number of incidents in which the port facility owner will say straight away, ''Go ahead and come in.'' I am concerned that once the legislation is passed, the port facility owner will know that he has a much better chance of getting speedy compensation if the SOSREP is involved. The SOSREP will be called in to adjudicate on these issues, thus slowing down many occasions when the port facility owner would have proceeded immediately to give succour to the stricken ship.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but those cases would be extremely rare. Often it is in the interests of the port to take on the vessel because it conducts the repairs. Ships frequently come in to my constituency. They are seldom polluting, but they come in for repairs. They also go to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Syd Rapson) and probably to Liverpool. Where it was clear that a specific incident was not going to be resolved within hours and where hours were important, the SOSREP would come in and make a decision. I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but the risks involved are slim. He may know different and may have some other information that he wishes to impart to the Committee.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

On the same subject, but a slightly different tack, would the Minister care to comment on the liability of the SOSREP? There is an assumption in what the Minister is saying that the ship will always be adequately insured. The MV Cita, which ran aground not on his watch but in March 1997, was clearly not adequately insured and created a tremendous amount of pollution around the Isles of Scilly. The case is still going through the courts in Hamburg to pursue the insurers. Is there an assumption on behalf of the SOSREP that the Government are taking on a financial liability if they encourage that ship and the owners of the jetties and quays and the ports to take responsibility if it turns out that the insurance available is not sufficient?

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

Well, indeed, part of the intention is that the type of long-protracted wrangling that a court could find itself involved in would no longer be necessary because the initial compensation would be paid for by the Government. The Government would make that claim back through the insurers. That gives reassurance to the ports, which is only right in those circumstances. As the Government are in effect imposing this on the port through the SOSREP, it is incumbent on us to say that we will pay that compensation.

I hope that helps the hon. Gentleman. I know that the coast along his constituency is very sensitive. He has a wreck there at present. It is probably not as serious as those we have heard about, but it is none the less problematic. He also asked what happens when the ship may not have requested any help. It is the duty of the master of the ship to call the coastguard if the ship is in distress. However, if it has been brought to the SOSREP's attention that a ship is in trouble and that it has not contacted the coastguard to say that it is in trouble, and has not requested assistance, he can

override that and make decisions based on any information that he has at his disposal. One could look at the case of the Braer and what happened there.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Minister referred to the RMS Mulheim, which is the vessel that is stricken off the coast at Sennen. Heroic attempts are being made to salvage some of the waste on board, which is polluting the seas in that area. In that case, the Secretary of State, the SOSREP and the Government may find that the skipper of the vessel did not take action soon enough and that intervention was required earlier. I am grateful for the Minister's comments on the matter. He knows that I have written to him, and I hope that we can meet to discuss the issue with the local authorities, which are concerned about the clean-up of the coast in that area.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I am always pleased to meet the hon. Gentleman and representatives from his part of the world to discuss the matters that he raises. That is a case in which certain circumstances prevailed, but I do not believe it to be appropriate to go into them now because other actions are taking place.

We can examine particular incidents and see how they could have been handled better, but, had it been a ship carrying a large amount of oil—all ships carry bunker oil, even if they do not actually transport oil—that had been stricken out at sea, there would now have been an opportunity for SOSREP to bring that ship into one of the near ports along that coast to reduce the amount of damage that it would cause.

The hon. Member for St. Ives also asked about the firefighting unit. He may wish to raise that in the context of the debate on the next clause. The SOSREP can issue a direction to a salvor to take action of any kind, including boarding a firefighting unit on to a casualty if that is required. It can require that the casualty move to a safer place.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge rightly raised the point about the speed of action. In such instances, speed is of the essence. I assure him that the coastguard service in the UK is not a nine-to-five service: in modern parlance, it operates 24/7. As soon as there is a casualty, the operation is geared to taking action as rapidly as possible. Since the national plan was implemented, I believe that there have been about 280 incidents, and most of them have been dealt with rapidly.

I think that that has probably covered most of the points that were raised. As I said on Second Reading, the Government welcome the proposals, and I am glad that they are also welcomed by all members of the Committee. Thankfully, the occasions when they will be used will be few and far between. However, the proposals are important because incidents of that type can be major, with catastrophic effects on our coastline and on human, bird and plant life, as we saw in the case of the Prestige.

The clause and the schedule to the Bill also consolidate all the existing provisions to issue directions in a single document and that, too, is welcome. I hope that the Committee will give clause 1 of the Bill a favourable hearing.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

I thank hon. Members of all parties for giving me support on the Bill.

In concluding the debate, I shall clarify the purpose of the clause. It inserts a new section 108A of, and schedule 3A to, the 1995 Act. The clause also provides that a direction given under schedule 3A takes precedence over any other provision in the 1995 Act.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.