I am writing to provide you and your Committee with an update on the progress the Department for Transport has made in reducing the backlog of maritime legislation, following the laying of the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements) Regulations 2020. I am pleased to be able to report positive progress and provide responses to the questions.
My predecessor as Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, wrote to your Committee in February 2018 following the introduction of two Statutory Instruments (SIs) implementing international maritime obligations.
At the time, my predecessor set out a ‘roadmap’ that included all international maritime legislation that was required to be implemented into our domestic regime by SIs. The Department prioritised the 22 SIs that would be required in advance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) flag State administration audit (known as ‘Triple I’), expected to take place in September 2020. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an Executive Agency of the Department, employed additional lawyers to focus only on the ‘Triple I’, to consolidate progress and further accelerate this work.
In the 2018 update, two SIs had been completed as part of the ‘Triple I’ programme and eight were in various stages of preparation. These all related to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), and were:
A further six SIs had also been made to meet our obligations arising under the International Labour Organization (ILO).
In June last year my predecessor again updated your Committee elaborating further on the ‘Roadmap’ which included a list of 44 SIs covering the ‘Triple I’ conventions and other essential international obligations up to 2023.
There were some delays as a result of the ambitious programme of EU Exit legislation and the delay in exiting the EU, which had a knock-on impact on our ability to implement all backlog regulations. However, I am pleased to inform the Committee that of the eight ‘Triple I’ SIs (above):
In addition, the MCA has made substantial progress with the remaining ‘Triple I’ SIs with two having now been made (Tonnage and MARPOL VI (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) and a further six are in various stages of preparation. These are:
The global nature of the maritime sector results in a complex and extensive set of international obligations emanating predominantly from the IMO and the ILO. Improvements to reflect technological advances, improvements to outdated drafting, or simply clarifications and explanations produce a constant flow of amendments requiring UK domestic legislation to also be updated.
Whilst it is inevitable that these updates will need to be implemented into domestic law, potentially increasing the list of legislation, where existing legislation includes an ambulatory reference provision, references to specific requirements in the Convention are a reference to the most up to date version of that requirement, so no further change to the domestic legislation is required. This approach not only ensures the UK meets its obligations to keep domestic legislation in step with the international requirements, it is also simpler for industry, providing just one version of the up-to-date requirements.
Most of these amendments have been considered and will be included as part of the legislative updating already contained in the existing programmed list.
In relation to those not already on the list of 44 SIs, a further five have been added to the list as a result of new or amended international obligations; these relate to:
In addition, it is likely that there will be some further updating of domestic legislation required as a result of changes to the MARPOL Convention.
As mentioned previously, a programme of planned legislation to 2023 was shared with the Committee last year and which identified 44 separate SIs. Of that list, four SIs have been completed, with a further 10 planned to be laid by the end of 2020. 12 are expected to be completed in 2021, with the remaining 23 (including the five new SIs added to the list) expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
The unprecedented and challenging global pandemic that we are all facing has meant that work on some SIs has been temporarily paused whilst others have been deferred to 2021 to help alleviate pressures on Parliamentary time in late 2020, allowing for the necessary EU-related legislation at the end of the current Implementation Period.
There are a small number of EU Instruments that were negotiated when the UK was part of the EU but in respect of which the transposition deadline falls outside of the Implementation Period. The Implementation Period currently ends on 31 December 2020 and on this basis, there will be no obligation on the UK to transpose these EU Instruments. However, I will be considering with my Department and MCA as to whether it is in the UK’s interests to implement these changes either wholly or in part.
8 June 2020
10 Section 306A of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as inserted by the Deregulation Act 2015.