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Clause 10

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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Pilotage Charges

Amendment propose: No. 41, in page 9, line 31, at end insert

`or the ship does not arrive or depart at the notified time,. —[Mr. Michael Spicer.]

With this., it will be convenient to consider amendments Nos. 42 and 44.

I wish to speak briefly to amendment No. 42, which seeks to leave out clause 10(3). It is essentially a probing amendment to find out why a vessel which comes into port without a pilot, but under the control of a master or mate who has an exemption certificate, would be charged. Clause 8, which deals with the granting of exemption certificates provides for the covering of the proper administrative charge, which goes with the application of such an exemption certificate. Therefore, it does not seem right that if no use is made of the pilot services, there should nevertheless, be a charge.

I can understand that an argument may be made that there will be occasions, possible in exceptionally bad weather, when vessels which have a master with an exemption certificate may wish to make use of pilot services. Of course, that service must be available throughout the year and around the clock. However, it appears that there are two categories of users—regular users and occasional users. The occasional users are likely to be in need of pilot services as often as the regular user who has an exemption certificate and who would require it on exceptional occasions. The occasional user has to pay only when he has to make use of the pilot services. Likewise, why should that not also be the case for the master or mate with an exemption certificate? An explanation for the charge is required.

I too should like to query the effect of subsection (3) and, to that extent, I wish to speak in support of amendment No. 42.

I understand that in other transport matters the Government have sought to root out cross-subsidisation. It is said that those who use the service should bear the cost of it. If there is a social reason why they cannot meet that cost, it should be met from other public funds, and not by other transport users. The effect of clause 10(3) is that a ship with a competent pilot on board, whether the captain or the mate who holds an exemption certificate, shall still be subject to a charge. That is a form of cross-subsidisation which I would have thought was anathema to the Government. For that reason, I find it difficult to understand why my hon. Friend the Minister is not leaping to his feet to accept the amendment.

There are two schools of thought on this and we do not have a dogmatic view. First, there is the cost of issuing exemption certificates regularly and, secondly, such ships benefit from the improvement in safety which a well-run pilotage service means for the ports. Therefore, on balance we believe that they should share the cost.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.