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Ferries

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give details of the number of inspections performed by marine inspectors on ferries in port and on board ferries whilst at sea (a) in the two years and two months period prior to the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise and (b) since that date to 29 February.

Separate statistics were not kept for inspections of ferries by marine surveyors prior to the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise. From 6 March 1987 to 29 February 1988, 259 ferries were inspected in port and 114 whilst at sea.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what representations he has received since 29 July 1987 from ferry owners and others about modifications to ferries built under the 1960 convention and the 1965 (PSC) rules;(2) what representations he has received since 29 July 1987 from ferry owners and others about competition from non-British companies in the event of changes to the design of ferry hulls under the 1960 convention and the 1965 (PSC) rules.

My Department received a number of representations from shipowners, in response to consultative document No. 3 and at meetings with the General Council of British Shipping, about the recommendations in the report of the court of formal investigation into the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise relating to ferries built under the 1965 rules. In addition, I received a letter from the president of the general council and will place a copy of that letter and of my reply in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about his plans to adopt the recommendation of the formal investigation into the Herald of Free Enterprise of section 49 concerning ferries built under the 1960 convention and the 1965 (PSC) rules.

On 31 July, my Department called for full data on all roll-on/roll-off ferries built before 1980 to be submitted to the Department by 1 April, to enable assessments to be made of how these ships measure up to the current requirements for survivability following collision damage. The Government intend to analyse this information fully, and to reach conclusions upon the recommendations in the report of the court, by the end of September.