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Shipping: Safety

Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the compliance with the UK’s treaty obligations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of introducing a price mechanism into the maritime radio spectrum; and if he will make a statement. (122450)

The Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings and the subsequent Government response, agreeing with the audit, found that there is scope for more effective use of public sector radio spectrum. The Office for Communications (Ofcom) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) are charged with beginning work to introduce Administered Incentive Pricing (AIP—the ‘price mechanism’) to some elements of maritime radio spectrum use, including radar and communications. In its response to the audit, the MCA stressed that the safety case is paramount in any proposals to introduce pricing and bandsharing. In respect of obligations both within the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Department is considering its position. There are no substantive proposals at this stage as to whether and how AIP should be applied to the maritime sector. Before any proposals are progressed, full technical trials will be undertaken together with assessments of conformity with relevant international conventions.