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Volume 934: debated on Monday 27 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade to what extent he has consulted with pilots who are actively engaged in the day-to-day running of pilotage over proposed changes to its organisation within the United Kingdom.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade to what extent pilots are being kept informed of his Department's views on changes which may affect their future.

My Department attaches the greatest importance to close consultations with pilots' representatives on all matters affecting the pilotage service. The Advisory Committee on Pilotage is seeking the views of pilots and other interested parties on what changes to the organisation of local pilotage authorities are desirable. I hope that their first report on proposals for legislation will soon be available to the interested organisations.

Will the Minister appreciate that there is a lack of confidence on the part of a large number of pilots in the representation on the Advisory Committee on Pilotage? Will he receive a delegation of pilots who have the day-to-day responsibility of managing the ships, so that it may explain the proposals and he may take note of the views of those who operate this excellent service?

Before we set up the Advisory Committee on Pilotage we wrote to all interested bodies—local pilotage authorities, local pilots, shipowners and port authorities. We could not please everybody in its composition, but nevertheless I believe that the Advisory Committee on Pilotage is very broadly representative. I see no reason for my receiving any delegations, nor have I received such a request.

Is the Minister aware that there is disquiet in the pilotage service, particularly in Harwich? Will he visit Harwich to talk over the problem with some of the pilots there?

The very reason why the advisory committee was established was to ensure that we could get as wide a consensus as possible for amending legislation to the Pilotage Act 1913, but one cannot please everybody and I dare say that we may not be able to please the hon. Gentleman.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.