asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make a statment on civil hydrography.
The Government fully recognise the important contribution which up-to-date charts make to the safety of merchant shipping around our coasts. About one-third of survey work currently undertaken by the Hydrographer of the Navy is relevant to the needs of international shipping. In addition, however, the Government have decided that the Hydrographer will assign survey resources over the next two years to undertake repetition surveys of the unstable areas in the southern North Sea and off the eastern and southern coasts of the United Kingdom, and to carry out the most urgent of the new surveys required for tanker routes in north-west Scottish waters. Contract negotiations are expected to begin later this year for the purchase of one new coastal survey vessel for civil work. Design studies to this end are in hand. The progress of the civil hydrographic programme will be monitored jointly by the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade, and the Government will keep under review the question of whether further resources should be made available for civil surveys.