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 your comments relating to the consideration of the draft Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. I am pleased to be able to report positive progress and provide a response to your question.
We would wish to see a fuller explanation of why the Department has not dedicated more resource to resolving a longstanding problem which it initially aimed to address by 2020 and which has knowingly left the Marine and Coastguard Agency with inadequate powers of enforcement. The explanation should also set out the extent of the remaining backlog and how long it is estimated it will take to clear it completely.
My predecessor as Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP, wrote to your Committee in June 2020 following the laying of the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements) Regulations 2020. In her letter she referred to the earlier “road map” initially set out by Nusrat Ghani MP as Minister, that included all international maritime legislation that was required to be implemented into our domestic regime by statutory instruments. She noted that the Department had prioritised the instruments that would be required in advance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) flag State administration audit (that is, the IMO Instruments Implementation Code audit, known as ‘Triple I’), then expected to take place in September 2020, and that additional lawyers had been employed to focus only on the ‘Triple I’ packages to consolidate progress and further accelerate this work.
I can report that the work undertaken on the Triple I instruments resulted in six of the instruments listed in the first list below being laid in 2020. 2021 will produce a similar result and all Triple I related SIs not yet in force will be ready in draft for the audit.
The global pandemic has meant that work on some instruments had to be temporarily paused, whilst others had to be deferred to 2021 to help alleviate pressures on Parliamentary time in late 2020, this was done to allow time for both the necessary EU-related legislation at the end of the Implementation Period and for additional legislation relating to the pandemic. I note that in relation to the pandemic that the IMO ‘Triple I’ audit was also postponed, and we expect it to take place later this year.
Despite these difficulties, progress has been made and I am pleased to confirm that the following instruments were made in 2020 and early 2021:
A further ten proposed instruments are well progressed and are either at consultation or in the final stages prior to making and laying:
Another eight SIs are currently being prepared for consultation and are expected to be completed by the end of 2022/early 2023:
The remainder of the programme is at an earlier stage of development and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2023.
5 July 2021