Clause 87 - Crown application

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 4th March 2003.

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

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have a minor point to make. So far we have looked at including various items. Here we are considering exclusions. The clause states:

''This Part—

(a) shall apply, except for section 81, in relation to ships forming part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service''.

That is a little messy. Can the Minister explain why the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service is partly in and partly out? The clause says that this part of the Bill does not apply to ships belonging to Her Majesty. Obviously all ships carry her flag. I just wonder which ships belong to her, now that we no longer have the royal yacht Britannia, which I do not think she owned anyway. Other Government ships are excluded. One category particularly concerns us, should there be an accident that led to an offence under the Bill: ships carrying spent nuclear fuels. We understand that waste-carrying ships would be included. Can the Minister confirm that?

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The clause applies the prescribed alcohol limits to personnel on ships forming part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service on the basis that those are crewed by civilian personnel who should be treated no differently from other professionals under clause 75. However, in order not to risk impeding the operational efficiency of the Royal Navy, RFAS ships are specifically exempted from clause 81, so that an RFAS vessel will not be subject to the power of detention that may be exercised by marine officials. The likelihood of such a situation arising in practice is thought to be remote.

The hon. Lady asked about vessels carrying nuclear fuels. They are treated as any other vessel in that regard. She also pointed out that the clause excludes Her Majesty's ships—royal naval vessels—and other Government ships from the ambit of part 4. Such Government ships form a very small class of vessel in practice. Government ships are defined in section 308 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as

''ships not forming part of Her Majesty's Navy which belong to Her Majesty, or are held by any person on behalf of or for the benefit of the Crown''.

Some Government ships, such as Ministry of Defence yachts, may be crewed by service men, so on balance it is thought best to exclude them along with Royal Navy ships.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I assume that such personnel will be considered to be guilty of a similar offence under different legislation and that they will not escape the provisions relating to alcohol and drug testing completely.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Let me be clear. Service personnel who are acting in a purely private capacity are not excluded from the Bill. When they are acting in a service capacity they are covered by Queen's regulations and military law. That is how both groups are covered and how the people are covered depending on the role in which they are acting at any time.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 87 ordered to stand part of the Bill.