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Marine Oil Pollution

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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13.

Wainwright asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he intends to take on recommendations of the eighth report of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution with regard to pollution of the sea by oil from ships.

As a first step, the Government are consulting interested parties on the report. My Department, in collaboration with the other interested Departments, will give careful consideration to the Royal Commission's recommendations, taking into account the further comments and views which may be received. The Government's response to the report will be published in due course.

I thank the Under-Secretary for that reply. What is his Department doing in relation to the EEC on these matters? I refer in particular to the recommendation, which the Royal Commission endorsed, that the EEC should be asked to consider that insurance should be refused to vessels which will not comply with international standards on oil pollution.

We noted the proposal in the Royal Commission's report. We shall be giving it careful consideration, although so far our partners in the European Community have shown very little interest in it

Is my hon. Friend aware that on 27 November there will be a demonstration in Gardenstown, in my constituency, of a new technique, similar to that of the purse seiners, for containing oil pollution? Will he attend that demonstration?

I know how hard my hon. Friend fights on behalf of his constituents. I am glad that he has drawn the matter to my attention. If he will give me further details, I shall consider his invitation sympathetically.

Is the Minister aware of the disquiet felt by the regular passage of oil tankers through the Minches, which is an area of navigational hazard and stormy weather at times? An accident there could cause severe damage to the fish stocks, if not their total destruction.

I am aware of the problem, which was brought to my attention by my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Mackay). I am not aware of any serious oil spillage in the waters to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. We wish to keep closely in touch with all local groups to make certain that everything is being done that should be done.

Does not untreated or partially treated sewage from the shore pollute the sea just as effectively as oil spilt from ships?

My hon. Friend will know that one of the reassuring aspects of the Royal Commission's report was that oil pollution caused only minimal damage to marine ecology.