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Tankers (Safety)

Volume 961: debated on Wednesday 24 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will take steps to ensure that all tankers above the appropriate size limits built in the United Kingdom incorporate up-to-date safety equipment;

(2) if he will undertake consultations with the oil companies, tanker owners and representatives of seafarers' unions and other related unions with a view to establishing new safety standards for oil tankers;

(3) if he will raise with the EEC Commission the question of new safety standards for oil tankers; and whether the EEC is at present considering taking an initiative on this matter given the large amount of intra-EEC trade in oil products.

We have taken a leading role in the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO) in seeking international agreement on practical and effective measures to improve the safety of tankers, whether flying our flag or that of other States. The main priority now is to bring into force what has been agreed, and, for our part, one of the main reasons for introducing the Merchant Shipping Bill, currently before the House, was to enable us to ratify and implement the latest international agreements in the field.Given the international character of the shipping and oil industries, safety standards are best set on a world-wide basis, but the EEC has made a useful contribution by recommending member States to ratify the relevant IMCO agreements by specified dates.I and officials of my Department are in continuing touch with both sides of the industry about various aspects of marine safety.