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Merchant Shipping (Recognised Organisations) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Volume 795: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2019

Motion to Approve

Moved by

That the draft Regulations laid before the House on 12 November 2018 be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 23 January.

My Lords, the next four Motions on the Order Paper were down to be moved en bloc but I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, for her courtesy in advising me in advance that she wished to speak to one of them. I will therefore move the Motions separately. I beg to move.

My Lords, I will not delay the House for long but I have to question the point of this SI. It seems to try to ensure that we have the same safety regulations for passenger ships and many other things as we had before Brexit, this being a post-Brexit SI. But I do not think that we have the same regulations at the moment, because I happened to go on a passenger ship in Brittany last summer which looked exactly like what I thought would be a nice idea for a ship to go to the Isles of Scilly. I had a long chat with the skipper and got hold of all his certificates and the regulations on the board. I asked him, “Can you operate across the English Channel and to Scilly, in all weathers and at all times of day?” He said, “Yes—when do you want me to start?”

I thought this idea would be interesting, so I sent that information to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency but the answer that I got back said, “We do not recognise French legislation”. I thought that there was one common European system for ferries which could go across the English Channel, or anywhere else, to help interoperability so I was a bit distressed that this did not happen. Maybe the Minister will not be able to answer my point but I would be glad to have some response from her, perhaps in writing.

My Lords, I declare an interest as chair of the Newhaven coastal communities team, in which capacity I have spent some time going through port-related regulations. I have a general question about all four of these statutory instruments. They are to come into play if there is no deal. As that is the only course against which there is a parliamentary majority, is it really a good use of our parliamentary time to scrutinise these instruments?

I thank noble Lords for those questions. This first piece of secondary legislation is about the recognised organisations, which play a vital role in ensuring that ships are built and maintained so that they operate in compliance with standards for safety and to prevent pollution. The MCA delegates about 85% of its work to recognised organisations. These regulations will simply make changes to adapt an EU system for approving, monitoring and assessing recognised organisations in the UK system. I am afraid I will have to take the Scilly Isles point back to the department and look into that, and will come back to the noble Lord on it.

This is a no-deal SI. During an implementation period, the SI would not be needed because the withdrawal agreement will provide that EU law should continue to have the same effect. I fundamentally believe that it is important that as a responsible Government we continue to prepare for no deal. The long programme of statutory instruments is all about ensuring that we have a functioning statute book should we leave with no deal on 29 March. As long as that remains a possibility, we will need to continue the scrutiny of these SIs.

Motion agreed.