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Pilotage Bill Lords

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Yet the Bill in clause 33(3) puts a minimum period of only nine months between the passing of the Act and the coming into force of part I which includes the appointed day. I suggest that this is not enough time. According to the Green Paper,

"Our modern pilotage service is second to none in the skills deployed and the preparedness of pilots to meet and serve the ships using our ports".
It seems strange that this well proven system is to be more or less destroyed and is to be retained only through a bureaucratic consultative procedure.

Our amendment is designed to ensure that the present pilotage areas are retained and can be changed only through the modified harbour revision order procedure outlined. This would give proper time for due consideration of the important matters and for the necessary local consultation to take place. I believe that it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a position to arise whereby existing compulsory pilotage areas can be wiped out by the Bill on the appointed day without consideration. It would be inconceivable if pilotage around our coasts was to be inhibited without proper and adequate consideration. This ties in very much with my earlier remarks about the responsibility of hon. Members and of the Government for seeing that safety of navigation in our waters is paramount. I believe that the amendment would go a long way to ensuring that.

We dealt with this matter in detail earlier when discussing amendments Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 45 which were tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Sir J. Ridsdale). As I said then, we believe that it would be wrong to take existing pilotage boundaries as a starting point for the new regime.

The only additional point I should like to make is that the competent harbour authorities are already responsible for other safety matters in their ports. It is logical and proper that they be trusted to impose a safe pilotage regime. Of course, the Bill provides a means by which a competent harbour authority can readily provide services beyond its existing harbour limits if that is necessary. That should meet the worries about hazards to navigation beyond those limits that my hon. Friend has raised.

For that reason and the reason I gave earlier, I ask that the amendment be withdrawn.

I have listened carefully to what the Minister has said on this and the earlier amendments.

For the reasons which we expressed in the first debate, I feel that nothing in the Bill, nothing as presently drafted and nothing that the Minister has said convinces me that we are not entering troubled waters with regard to pilotage areas.

I will therefore press the amendment to a Division.

Amendment negatived.

Clause 7, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.