Skip to main content

Transitional And Saving Provisions

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Amendments made, No. 78, in page 26, line 8, at end insert

'and any order made under section 1(3) or (4) of this Act by virtue of the said section 13'.

No. 79, in page 26, line 9, at end insert

`and the area which shall be taken to be its harbour shall be determined accordingly'.

No. 80, in page 26, line 22, after '(4)', insert '(4A)".

No. 81, in page 26, line 22, leave out 'that section' and insert

`section 5 of this Act'. —[Mr. Michael Spicer.]

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 2 and 3 agreed

Bill reported, with amendments; as amended, considered.

Order for Third Reading read. — [Prince of Wales's Consent signified]

10.59 pm

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

There has been a weighty debate on the Bill, especially in the other place, with 22½ hours of debate. The Bill has been amended considerably, the temporary arbitration provision being one that strikes me at the moment. I think all those who have played a tremendous part, including my hon. Friends the Members for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) and for Harwich (Sir. J. Ridsdale), in improving the legislation and making this a good and balanced Bill.

11 pm

The Minister said that the Bill had had a great deal of scrutiny. It certainly did in the other place, but I am not sure whether it has had adequate scrutiny in this House. On my hon. Friends' behalf, I have to register our disappointment that we were not able to consider the Bill in greater detail upstairs in Committee; instead, it has been debated on the Floor of the House on the day before the Easter recess. I am not sure that we have fashioned a better Bill out of Committee, but, in principle, this measure is worth supporting, and I certainly do not wish to impede its progress any further. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) for his sterling support throughout the debates.

11.1 pm

I join the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) in saying that the Bill has had a fair run this evening, but the debates have shown the need for great scrutiny of its detailed and complicated provisions. I share the hon. Gentleman's view that the Bill would have been better had we been able to consider it in greater detail upstairs in Committee, but it is a better Bill than when it started its passage through the other place. The debate has been important because I have been able to put on record some of my misgivings about the Bill's possible consequences.

The changes, as far as they have gone, have been welcome. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and his colleagues for their co-operation with me in getting the amendments accepted, and to my pilotage colleagues. It is not all gloom. It is a very much better Bill than when it started its passage. That is due in no small measure to that co-operation and to my hon. Friend's willingness to listen to our points.

However, my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will need to watch the legislation carefully. We have heard a great deal from Ministers about assurances—about the fair and equitable treatment of pilots and about safety around our coasts — but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We must ensure that the intention of the legislation is carried through. For the first time in pilotage legislation, Parliament has handed over the responsibility for pilotage almost totally to other people. We shall not have future opportunities to consider some of the most important matters that affect our coastal waters.

As I said on Second Reading, the Bill has had qualified support from pilots. Pilotage reorganisation was long overdue, and that was recognised. We believe that this reorganisation is rather like the curate's egg—good in parts. I say unequivocally that pilots will try to make the legislation work, but in no sense will any of the commitment that they have shown in the past be diminished by this legislation. They will continue to offer the quality of service and dedication to the shipping industry that have been the hallmarks of pilotage for as long as I have had anything to do with it, and certainly for many hundreds of years before that. I thank my hon. Friend the Minister. I just hope that many of his assurances will come to pass.

11.4 pm

I echo what has been said about the speed with which the Bill has been disposed of in this House. Many of us would have liked to give it greater scrutiny. Many of the debates underlined the technical and detailed nature of the Bill. When we were able to go into detail, it was clear how much better it would have been if we could have had more time for scrutiny, perhaps not least of the early retirement and compensation provisions which did not even get a cursory examination.

The Minister has given the House many assurances and has expressed expectations that the pilots affected by the Bill will be treated fairly and equitably. We hope that those assurances will be well founded in the light of experience and that the Minister's hopes come to pass. What we have achieved in the Bill is an overdue but worthwhile rationalisation of the pilotage service. It is the hope of everyone that the provisions of the Bill work out successfully.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.