Clause 75 - Professional staff on duty

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 27th February 2003.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:15 am, 27th February 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 85, in

clause 75, page 31, line 7, after 'to', insert

'any person employed in any capacity aboard a vessel, including'.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 76, in

clause 75, page 31, line 10, at end insert—

'(d) a person whose primary and main function is the command of a vessel carrying passengers for a fee.'.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am delighted that the Committee is moving on to a perhaps more controversial part of the Bill, although we are not necessarily in disagreement with the Government. The provisions are a response to a gap in the law whereby there is no legislation to regulate alcohol consumption in the maritime industry, other than a general provision in section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. Clauses 75 and 77 define the respective persons covered by the Bill. We believe that the clause should be more specific and we wish to probe the Minister on whether he would see fit to extend the definition.

The amendment relates to subsection (1), which limits the definition to

''(a) a professional master of a ship''—

I think that we all recognise who a professional master of a ship is—

''(b) a professional pilot of a ship, and

(c) a professional seaman in a ship while on duty.''

We heard from the Government on Second Reading that, in relation to, I think, pilots of ships, they could imagine circumstances whereby a professional mariner may not be on duty, but may be required to be on duty—they may be second on call, or whatever. How widely will the phrase ''while on duty'' be defined? Will the definition be exclusive or will it include those about to go on duty within a certain number of hours?

I shall confine my comments now to the amendment. It has been put to us that perhaps a

clearer definition of a professional mariner or professional staff on duty would be

''any person employed in any capacity aboard a vessel, including'',

and then the definition continues. The amendment is a probing amendment. We hope to have an indication from the Minister as to how widely the provisions will be interpreted. Similarly, amendment No. 76 would add a subsection (1)(d) that would refer to

''a person whose primary and main function is the command of a vessel carrying passengers for a fee.''

There is some concern in the industry that the current definition does not cover every potential category of those who should be covered.

As drafted, the title of the clause is ''Professional staff on duty'', whereas we had, I think, an indication from the Secretary of State that the provisions would apply to those who were about to go on duty. It might be of some assistance if the Minister gave some thought as to how such matters could be defined. Does the Minister intend to consider the rota for those first on call or those second on call?

We shall, I hope, have a broader debate on part 4 later, and we recognise the background.

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.