The House of Commons Transport Committee today welcomed the Department for Transport's Marine Navigation Bill, which it has considered in draft. Committee Chair, Louise Ellman MP, said

"We are pleased to have had the opportunity to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. It is a welcome package of measures which will help to improve port safety, clarify the role of the General Lighthouse Authorities, and provide the statutory basis for the implementation of the Nairobi Convention on the Removal of Wrecks. But we have a number of concerns including proposals to change the Pilotage Exemption Certificate and the absence of a mandatory set of port safety standards in place of the current voluntary Code, something we have long urged them to do."

As well as calling for mandatory port safety standards, the Committee makes the following recommendations:

o The Bill should specify that only "bona fide" members of a ship's crew should be allowed to hold a Pilotage Exemption Certificate, which allows them to take the ship into a port or harbour without taking a pilot on board.

o The Government should implement proposals in the draft Bill to introduce national qualifications for pilots and harbour masters, but with a degree of flexibility to acknowledge the very different circumstances of different ports.

o The three General Lighthouse Authorities for the British Isles should be given wider powers to prosecute those who fail to maintain essential aids to navigation, such as buoys and beacons.

o The Committee has endorsed provisions which would clarify the GLAs' powers to operate beyond the UK's territorial waters.


1. The draft Bill (Cm 7370) was published by the DfT in May. The Committee's Report, The Draft Marine Navigation Bill, Ninth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2007-08, HC 709, is published today.

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Mrs Louise Ellman (Chairman) (Liverpool Riverside), Mr David Clelland (Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Eltham), Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Mr John Leech (Manchester Withington), Mr Eric Martlew (Carlisle), Mr Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin), David Simpson (Upper Bann), Mr Graham Stringer (Manchester Blackley), Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne).

3. Transcripts of evidence sessions for the Committee's inquiries can be found on the Committee website at:

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