Merchant Shipping Bill 2009: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 2005 deal with safety of life at sea and regulate vital maritime safety matters such as the construction, equipment and operation of ships, the radio installations, navigation and tracking systems and life-saving safety appliances to be provided as well as the issue of certificates of competency and qualification for seafarers. The Merchant Shipping Acts govern passenger and cargo ships, passenger boats, fishing vessels and leisure craft.

The Acts provide for the carrying out of surveys and inspections of ships to check for compliance with the maritime safety rules and statutory requirements. The certification of vessels that are found to be in conformity with the rules and the taking of prosecutions in respect of contravention of the rules are also covered. The Acts also provide for investigation of marine accidents. The purpose of the Merchant Shipping Acts, further augmented by the provisions in this new Bill, is to continually improve the adequacy of the maritime safety measures in national law and to give effect to the international maritime conventions on safety.

As an island, the sea is very important to Ireland, comprising an exclusive marine territory of 220 million acres, which has strategic economic, social and environmental value for the country. One of my main concerns as Minister with responsibility for maritime policy is the establishment and promotion of robust safety standards.

The sea, for all its riches and potential for development, can be one of the most hostile and dangerous environments on the planet. Consequently, safety is a vital issue for all who venture onto the water. Most particularly, safety is a vital element for those who earn their living through trade, fishing and leisure activities, in our 200 mile exclusive economic zone and further out in international waters around Ireland. My objective is to provide a safety regime with the highest standards for construction, design and operation of vessels and up-to-date safety equipment supporting skilled and competent seafarers.

I am introducing this Bill as part of a maritime safety agenda to strengthen measures already introduced under the current Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 2005. It will provide for new safety measures representing further progress on developing a modern and comprehensive legislative framework for maritime safety. I now propose to give an overview of the different policy areas of the Bill and then to set out the provisions in more detail.

The principal provisions in the Bill are being introduced to improve safety of life at sea. They will ensure that enabling provisions in relation to the making of rules and regulations for the safety of vessels will be provided to cover all relevant categories of vessels: cargo, passenger, fishing vessels and leisure craft. It is essential that the State be in a position to implement and enforce maritime safety provisions through having appropriate legislation in place. The provisions of this Bill will strengthen the statutory basis for the enforcement of our safety agenda including the strengthening of associated inspection and prosecution processes.

Another objective of the provisions contained in the Bill is to enable the further implementation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 and its subsequent protocols, the SOLAS Safety Convention. This will facilitate Ireland in meeting safety requirements under the conventions of the International Maritime Organisation.

The Bill provides for the expansion and updating of existing provisions for the making of rules in relation to construction and survey of ships and requirements to provide radio, navigation and tracking systems. The enabling provisions for the making of rules for life-saving appliances and arrangements that have their origins in the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 are being updated and expanded. New enabling provisions are being introduced to provide for the making of cargo ship bulk carrier rules, fire protection rules and for the approval of service stations for inflatable life-saving appliances.

The Bill provides a statutory basis for enabling provisions in relation to access to passenger vessels for persons with reduced mobility. For the purposes of the Bill a "person with reduced mobility" means any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced or impaired as a result of any physical disability, sensory or locomotive, intellectual disability, age — or as a result of pregnancy or being accompanied by small children.

The current Merchant Shipping Acts do not have separate provisions for the powers and procedures for the raising of sunken vessels and the subsequent storage and disposal of such vessels. The specific proposals in the Bill will provide express and clear provisions in respect of the exercise of power to raise a sunken vessel. It also sets out the statutory procedures to apply to the raising and the bringing ashore of a sunken vessel. The new provisions are enabling only and will in no way require or imply that any sunken vessels will be raised.

The Bill also makes it clear that the ownership of a sunken vessel that is raised remains with the owner of the vessel concerned. To that end it provides that an owner may reclaim and collect his or her vessel when it is no longer required by the statutory body for the purposes for which it was raised. Where a vessel is not reclaimed and taken back into the possession of its owner, the Bill provides arrangements for its disposal.

The Bill contains provisions to give force of law to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 to ensure that the employment and social rights of seafarers on applicable Irish ships are fully implemented. An important aspect of the legislation is the creation of new offences and the setting of maximum court fines for contravention of the new rules that are included in the Bill. In addition, the Bill contains amendments to existing provisions to update the current maximum court fines for contravention of existing maritime safety rules and regulations. The updating of court fines is timely considering that the maximum levels on conviction for some offences in earlier Acts are at levels of £20, £50 and £100. These will be set at levels from €500 up to €100,000 as applicable.

The Bill also strengthens the enforcement of safety provisions through the carrying out of ship surveys, extended provisions for the inspection of ships by surveyors of ships and new provisions for the inspection by surveyors of service stations for inflatable life-saving appliances. The operation of an administrative fixed payment notice system, as an option in lieu of a court prosecution, is provided for in the enforcement of the reduced mobility regulations. Through this series of measures the provisions in the Bill will put a firmer legislative basis in place to underpin the implementation of an effective enforcement regime and ensure effective compliance programmes to meet international and national requirements. I now propose to outline the main provisions of the Bill which comprises seven parts.

Part 1, comprising sections 1 to 5, inclusive, deals with preliminary and general matters as follows. Sections 1, 2 and 3 are standard provisions relating to Title, definitions and administration expenses. Section 4 provides for prosecution of persons where an offence has been committed by a corporate body and provides that the Minister for Transport may prosecute summarily an offence under this Bill. Section 5 is a standard provision for the laying of orders, regulations and rules before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Part 2 deals with rule making and the categorisation of vessels and comprises sections 6 to 15, inclusive. These contain separate enabling provisions for the making of rules or regulations to support maritime safety and for the categorisation of vessels into classes for the purposes of each set of rules or regulations.

The rule making provisions relate to the making of construction rules for passenger ships, radio rules, cargo ship construction and survey rules, navigation and tracking rules and bulk carrier rules. The Bill also provides for the updating of the maximum level of court fines for contravention of the regulatory requirements.

Section 6 amends and updates the definition of specified terms for the purposes of the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1952. The definition of “safety convention” is updated — this term refers to the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea and its subsequent protocols. It is usually referred to as the SOLAS safety convention.

Section 7, dealing with construction rules for passenger ships, substitutes a new section 10 in the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1952 for the making of construction rules for passenger ships. The construction rules include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of the SOLAS safety convention in respect of passenger ships. Section 8 substitutes a new section 15 in the 1952 Act for the making of radio rules. The current radio rules apply to sea-going ships registered in the State and to other sea-going ships while they are within any port in the State. The provisions in the Bill extend the application of radio rules to all ships registered in the State instead of just sea-going vessels. The inspection and enforcement powers of surveyors of ships are extended to check for compliance with radio rules. The existing maximum levels of fines for breach of radio rules are being updated in the Bill from £10, £50 and £500 to €1,000, €5,000 and €100,000, respectively.

Section 9 relates to navigation and tracking rules and substitutes a new section 18 into the Act of 1952 and introduces modern terminology. The new section 18 contains enabling powers to make navigation and tracking rules. These rules set out the navigation and tracking systems and equipment that must be provided on ships and shall include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of the SOLAS safety convention. They will apply to all ships registered in the State and other ships while within any port in the State.

Section 10, which relates to exemptions of certain ships from certain provisions of the Act of 1952, substitutes a new section 46 into the Act of 1952 to provide that troop ships are exempt from specified provisions unless there are issues regarding the stability of such ships. The amendment in the Bill removes fishing vessels and pleasure craft from the exemption provision. Separate safety regulations or codes are now in place for such vessels. The existing standard force majeure exemption from specified regulatory requirements is retained for ships that would not be in an Irish port but for unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather.

Section 11 deals with the increase of fines etc., and updates references in the Act of 1952 to use modern terminology and expands the application of specified sections of that Act to cover fire protection rules. This provision will meet SOLAS safety convention requirements. It also updates the maximum level of fine a court may impose on conviction in respect of a range of related offences.

Section 12 relates to cargo ship construction and survey rules and amends sections 1, 3, 6 and 8 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1966. The amendment to section 1 of the 1966 Act is to update some definitions. The amendment to section 3 of that Act provides an enabling power to make construction and survey rules for cargo ships. The existing rules apply only to sea-going cargo ships and it is proposed under the Bill that these rules will apply to all Irish ships other than passenger ships, troop ships and fishing vessels. The amended section 3 will continue to apply to cargo ships not registered in the State while they are within a port in the State and are not otherwise exempt. The Bill provides that the construction and survey rules for cargo ships shall include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of SOLAS. The amendment to section 6 of the 1966 Act updates the maximum fine, on summary conviction, for contravention of a prohibition on ships proceeding to sea without the appropriate safety certification. Section 8 of the 1966 Act sets out the offence for non-compliance with cargo ship construction rules, extends the inspection and enforcement powers of surveyors of ships and updates the maximum fine that a court may impose.

Section 13, which deals with cargo ship safety certificates, contains provision to provide for the issue of a composite cargo ship safety certificate covering safety and radio equipment and cargo ship safety construction certification.

Section 14 relates to bulk carrier rules and introduces a new power for the making of bulk carrier rules. Bulk carrier ships carry dry cargo in bulk and are a sub-set of cargo ships. The new power will provide for the making of rules to prescribe the particular requirements for superstructure, subdivision and the stability, hull, arrangement, equipment and machinery of bulk carriers. The SOLAS safety convention contains separate requirements in respect of bulk carriers so the provisions in section 14 will underpin the making of rules in respect of any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of SOLAS.

Section 15, which involves the categorisation of vessels under safety regulations, introduces enabling provisions for the categorisation of vessels under existing safety regulations.

The purpose of the amendments in the Bill to sections 18, 19 and 20 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1992 are to enable the Minister for Transport to categorise vessels into different classes for the purpose of making rules and to make different rules for different classes, different circumstances and different areas of operation. New and amending enabling powers of the nature outlined provide for the categorisation of vessels into different classes. This is for the purposes of making rules or regulations in respect of construction, radio, navigation and tracking, bulk carrier, life-saving appliances and arrangements, fire protection, reduced mobility and cargo ship construction and survey. This will give a flexibility in legislation to provide targeted regulation across all vessel classes while allowing for less onerous requirements which may be appropriate for smaller vessels or for different circumstances or different areas of operation.

On a point of order, this is an important speech. In such circumstances, would it be possible to call a quorum?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

It is a pity that——

Can I make a suggestion?

Is this a point of order?

On a point of order and to try to establish order, I suggest that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges might consider that whoever calls a quorum should remain in the House.

That is a matter the Deputy might appropriately bring to the attention of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. We are debating Second Stage of the Merchant Shipping Bill.

It is unseemly for the Opposition to be entirely absent.

Deputy Woods should allow the Minister to continue.

It is very sad.

Deputy Woods is sore, he is making the wrong agreements.

Part 3 of the Bill, comprising sections 16 to 22 inclusive, introduces new provisions for access for persons with reduced mobility to passenger vessels. Section 16 provides definitions of key terms used in Part 3.

Section 17 provides that the Minister for Transport is enabled to make reduced mobility regulations for the purpose of making passenger vessels accessible to persons with reduced mobility. A person with reduced mobility is defined as any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced or impaired as a result of any physical disability, sensory or locomotive, intellectual disability, age or as a result of pregnancy or being accompanied by small children. Passenger vessels may be categorised into different classes for the purpose of making reduced mobility regulations for different classes of passenger vessels. The Bill requires that, prior to the making of reduced mobility regulations, drafts of the proposals be published. This publication step is to afford an opportunity for interested persons to make written representations on the proposals. If the reduced mobility regulations are not being complied with, the Minister may suspend or refuse to grant the certificates, permits and licences required for vessel operation until the regulations are complied with.

Section 18 provides for the publication of codes of practice on access to passenger vessels by persons with reduced mobility. Codes of practice must be made available for public inspection and the owner of the passenger vessel, the master, crew or any person on a ship with responsibility for services provided by the vessel has a duty to be aware of and to follow that code of practice.

Section 19, use of codes of practice, provides for the admissibility and use of codes of practice in criminal proceedings. Section 20 identifies who is an authorised person for the purposes of enforcement of reduced mobility regulations. Section 21 sets out the inspection powers that may be exercised by authorised persons for the purposes of ensuring compliance with reduced mobility regulations. An offence is created for obstructing or interfering with an authorised person in the exercise of his or her functions. Section 22 provides for the operation of an administrative fixed payment system that a person may opt to avail of by making a payment within 21 days in lieu of a court prosecution. Different amounts of fixed payment may be prescribed in respect of different contraventions or different classes of passenger vessels.

Part 4 comprises sections 23 to 30 inclusive. Section 23 is a standard provision that sets out definitions for Part 4. Section 24 provides specific powers and arrangements for the raising and bringing ashore of a sunken vessel for the purposes of examining it with a view to improving safety standards for vessels and crews. It also provides for the making of arrangements for inspection, storage and, if necessary, disposal in due course. It is provided that the parties who may exercise these powers are an investigator appointed under the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000 for the purposes of an investigation under that Act, a tribunal appointed by the Minister for Transport under the 2002 Act that considers the raising of a sunken vessel is necessary for the purposes of an inquiry, or the Minister for Transport, for the purposes that are specified in section 24(2).

Section 25 provides that the owner of a raised vessel must be notified when the vessel is no longer required for the purpose for which it was raised and has 28 days to reclaim and collect the raised vessel. Where the owner does not wish to reclaim and collect the vessel, the party that had the vessel raised may dispose of it by sale or otherwise. Section 26 provides that the cost of raising a vessel will be borne by the party that raised it. The proceeds of any sale can be set against any costs incurred and any net proceeds must be paid to the owner of the vessel. Section 27 provides immunity for the Marine Casualty Investigation Board or for the party that had the vessel raised in respect of anything done in good faith in the course of the raising, removal, inspection, storage or disposal of a sunken vessel. Section 28 makes it an offence for a person to obstruct or impede a relevant party in the raising of a vessel and provides for a maximum fine, on summary conviction, of €5,000. Section 29 requires that a party that has raised a vessel must give notice to the receiver of wreck for the district concerned and specifies that the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 do not apply to vessels to which Part 4 applies. Section 30 provides procedures for a situation where a foreign vessel is raised.

Part 5 comprises sections 31 to 34 and provides for safety measures. Section 31 replaces and updates the existing provisions that enable the making of rules for life-saving appliances. The rules cover vital safety matters such as requirements for provision and use of lifeboats, lifejackets, distress signals, the carrying out of boat-drill and fire-drill practices and arrangements for dealing with emergency situations. The rules shall include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of the SOLAS safety convention. As with each of the rule-making provisions in the Bill, section 31 provides for the extension of the inspection and enforcement powers of surveyors of ships and for the updating of the maximum fines for contravention of the rules.

Section 32 is a new provision and enables the making of regulations for inspection and approval of service stations for inflatable life-saving appliances and launching and embarkation appliances. The regulations may provide for the setting and enforcement of service standards for servicing such appliances. Regulations for the approval of a service station shall include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of SOLAS. The section provides for inspection of service stations and appliances by surveyors of ships. An operator of a service station who contravenes section 32 is liable, on summary conviction, to a maximum fine of €5,000.

Section 33 is a new provision. At present, fire protection rules are regulated under the general life-saving arrangements. The new provisions for separate rules are more detailed and include any requirements necessary to implement the provisions of the SOLAS safety convention. The maximum fine is €5,000. The section provides for inspection of ships by surveyors of ships to check for compliance with the fire protection rules. It is an offence for a ship to proceed to sea if a deficiency as regards compliance with the rules has not been remedied beforehand. The maximum fine on summary conviction of this offence is €5,000 or, on conviction on indictment, €100,000.

Section 34 re-states the existing provisions from the Merchant Shipping Acts of 1906 and 1952, which require that a record be logged of each occasion that a boat-drill and fire-drill is practised and of each occasion that fire-saving appliances are examined. A master of a ship who fails to comply with section 34 commits an offence and the maximum fine on summary conviction is updated to €500. Section 35 provides that an Irish ship of over 150 tonnes gross tonnage is prohibited from proceeding to sea on an international voyage unless the ship is fitted with a signalling lamp or device. The existing provision in the Merchant Shipping Act 1966 refers to use of "a signalling lamp" and the addition of "or device" allows other means of signalling to be approved for use. An owner or master of a ship who fails to comply with section 35 commits an offence and the maximum fine on summary conviction is updated to €5,000.

Part 6, comprising section 36, contains provisions relating to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. This is a new provision to give force of law in the State to the regulations and standards of the code of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 adopted at Geneva on 23 February 2006. It will provide that the Minister is enabled to make regulations to fulfil the State's commitments under the convention in respect of Irish ships and seafarers sailing on those ships.

The regulations will establish a system for ensuring compliance with the convention, including surveys, certification, inspections, reporting and monitoring and ensure that ships carry maritime labour certificates and a declaration of maritime labour compliance as required by the convention. A commencement order will be required to bring this section of the Bill into operation in co-ordination with the employment and social legislative programmes of other Departments.

Part 7, comprising sections 37 to 41, inclusive, addresses miscellaneous matters. Section 37 supports the carrying out of enforcement by providing that it is an offence for a person to obstruct or impede or, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with a request of an authorised person in exercising his or her powers. A person who commits the offence of obstructing or impeding is liable, on summary conviction, to a maximum fine of €5,000.

Section 38 introduces a new enforcement option by providing that where certain notices, issued by a surveyor of ships, are not complied with, the surveyor may apply to the Circuit Court for a compliance order. The owner or master of a ship may appeal to the Circuit Court against the requirements contained in a notice issued on him or her by a surveyor of ships. The operator of a service station who has been served with a notice has a right of appeal also.

Section 39 is a fees provision for certificates and inspections under the Merchant Shipping Acts for specified provisions. The main purpose of the section is to provide for fees for inspections under new provisions being introduced in this Bill. Section 40 amends the Merchant Shipping (Certification of Seamen) Act 1979 to provide for the charging of a fee for the issue of certificates and other documents that the Minister may issue.

Section 41, confirmation of acts of Marine Casualty Investigation Board, provides confirmation that the acts of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board or any consultant, adviser or investigator engaged by it or purported to be engaged by it between 5 June 2002 and 29 June 2007 are not invalidated on the grounds of the invalidity of an establishment order made in 2002 or that the board did not have a quorum between 25 March 2003 and 29 June 2007.

In essence, the initial commencement order of June 2002 was found to be flawed due to a typographical error. In correcting this issue, the need to reappoint the board members under the properly commenced Act in 2003 was overlooked and, therefore, technically the board had no valid quorum of members until reappointments were made in 2007. While recognising that the board and its investigators acted entirely bona fide in their statutory functions, legal advice recommended these specific provisions to validate past actions of the board be provided in primary legislation.

To summarise, my objective in presenting this Bill to the House is to put in place a safety regime ensuring the highest standards for safe construction, design and operation of vessels and up-to-date safety equipment and arrangements that will support skilled and competent seafarers across the trading, fishing and leisure areas of the maritime sector. I commend the Bill to the House.

This is very important legislation, which we support. If amendments or other issues must be addressed, we will deal with them on Committee Stage in order to improve the legislation. The sole aim of everybody here is to ensure the safety of people at sea. We will do anything we can as a Legislature to insist that the most effective safety measures are put in place in the construction, maintenance and operation of crafts at sea or on other bodies of water.

Before we commence Committee Stage of the Bill we should invite many outside interest groups, such as the shipping owners, seamen and fishermen, for discussions on the issues to be dealt with. In particular, the transport committee should speak with representatives from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board so that we could perfect this legislation. I thank the research section of the Oireachtas Library, which has been extremely helpful, and I also thank the Minister's staff, who today went out of their way to assist me in replacing documents I did not have with me which were supplied to me earlier.

The Bill is very important, as it provides for amendments to the Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 2005. Those Acts deal with safety of life at sea in matters such as the construction, equipment and operation of ships, and seafarer training and competencies. The Acts also encompass matters such as navigation, lighthouses, salvage and the investigation of marine casualties. I will return to that issue shortly.

The amendments now being proposed are required to improve safety of life at sea by ensuring that enabling provisions in the making of rules and regulations for the safety of cargo and passenger vessels under existing legislation are up to date. The intention is that they would then cover all relevant categories of vessels and would be sufficient to enable the further implementation of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS.

The matters being regulated include those rules for construction of passenger vessels, cargo ship construction and survey, radio, navigation and tracking, cargo ship bulk carriers, fire protection, life-saving appliances and arrangements and approval of service stations for inflatable life-saving appliances.

The Bill also includes enabling provisions for access to passenger vessels for persons with reduced mobility, and new provisions to enable the raising of sunken vessels for the purposes of a marine casualty investigation. In addition, the Bill contains provisions to give force of law to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and includes provisions to update the fines for contravention of the rules, regulations and statutory provisions, as well as to strengthen provisions for the enforcement of compliance and safety through surveys, inspection, court compliance orders and prosecutions.

We regularly get information from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, which was set up in 2002 to examine reasons behind accidents at sea or on water. I have received an analysis from that board in response to a parliamentary question and it makes some interesting but sad reading. I will not refer to specific boats.

Nobody would want people to die at sea and if there are safety issues that have not been dealt with, we should address the principles and effect a change so that lives will not be lost in the way they have been in the past. Since 2005, there have been 41 fatalities reported on by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board. In that period, it published 46 separate reports, involving 52 craft. Along with the 41 fatalities there were seven injuries.

The craft involved in these incidents included 13 fishing vessels, ten open boats, seven jet skis, five motor pleasure boats, four yachts, three cargo vessels, three canoes, two ferries and one tanker. The causes of these incidents should be learned from. We should consider why they occurred and why certain issues recur in the data.

The causes of accidents include 13 cases of people overboard, seven cases of sinking, six cases of collision, five cases each of grounding and capsizing, three cases of engine failure and two cases each of fire, mooring line incidents and pilot ladder failure. The reason for the accident on one vessel which saw a loss of life was a deteriorating condition of rope support and lack of maintenance. Another vessel did not observe collision regulations or have a proper look-out. On another there was no monitoring of the vessel's course when it was steered by automatic pilot.

There have been a large number of accidents involving jet skis. The key point in these cases is the inexperience of their users. Many simply do not have a clue how to operate or manoeuvre them. It is a serious issue as lives have been lost in accidents involving them. I accept every beach cannot be policed. However, those who rent them out must have a check-list of conditions of use. A statutory obligation should be put in place to ensure a person renting one knows how to operate a jet ski and that it is in a proper and fit condition. There is also an issue with personal owners of jet skis and the same benchmark should be applied. Television is the best way to get across the water safety message just like with road safety. Moneys need to be ring-fenced for these campaigns which will ultimately save lives, particularly in the run up to summer when the use of jet skis becomes popular.

In many marine accidents the lack of maintenance of equipment is a key factor. This is a fundamental issue about the requirement on each individual owner to ensure a craft is safe, secure and fit for purpose. In one fatal accident, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board found no recommended safety equipment, such as distress flares, was on board the vessel while the personal flotation device, PFD, did not have cork straps attached and there was poor voyage planning. The investigators have also found very often life jackets not being worn is the cause of a marine accident. This basic and simple precaution ought to be driven home in a water safety publicity campaign equating it with people walking on the road wearing reflective gear.

In the board's analysis of fishing vessel incidents from 2005 to 2008, factors involved in accidents included not wearing a life jacket, failure to comply with safety regulations, abandonment of ship not carried out in an orderly fashion and a vessel not manned in accordance with regulations. Fatigue is a common thread in many of the investigations where it contributed to lack of safe watch-keeping.

In one case, the reduced stability of a vessel was a contributory factor. Similar to this, another vessel's bilge and basalt pumps capacity was insufficient to deal with the inflow of water while another was overloaded and had a poor stability profile. Changes made to fishing vessels may not be necessarily done with proper naval architecture advice. Fishing vessel owners are required to notify the authorities if they change the design of their vessel yet fatalities have occurred because that process has not been completed. On Committee Stage, we should examine the role of the State agencies involved in ensuring such reporting of modifications takes place. There are other instances where a safety survey was not carried out, despite the recommendations from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. In another, tests were not carried out on the vessel's VHF equipment.

I tabled a series of parliamentary questions on 4 November 2008 on how all these reports on marine accidents and safety were dealt with by the Department. The replies were very typical. One stated:

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board, MCIB, was established on 5 June 2002. Since its establishment, the MCIB has published over 100 reports containing in excess of 400 recommendations. The majority of these recommendations have been implemented. Where measures have yet to be implemented they provide a valuable input into the ongoing development of the maritime safety agenda and are considered by my Department in the overall context of delivering maritime safety.

Does a designated officer in the Department go through each of these reports?

A second reply stated:

When the Marine Casualty Board, MCIB, publishes a report into an incident it forwards a copy of it to my Department. As soon as possible after receiving it, my Department undertakes an initial assessment of the recommendations of the report relevant to the Department. The report is then submitted to me with the preliminary views of my Department on the relevant recommendations. Some recommendations lend themselves to early implementation, for example the issue of a Marine Notice bringing particular information or advice to the attention of a specific sector or sectors. Frequently, however, recommendations are more complex and require detailed assessment, consultation with interested parties and in some instances the introduction of new or amending legislation. In such instances, the recommendations will be fully considered and proposals developed as appropriate as part of my Department's ongoing work programme, in the overall context of delivering improved maritime safety.

It may be the case that following consideration of a particular recommendation that it is concluded that the course of action recommended may not be feasible or the most appropriate and that an alternative approach may be preferable. Such a conclusion usually would be arrived at following detailed examination by my Department's marine safety experts and consultation with relevant interests.

Effectively, that reply to a parliamentary question from the then Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, is stating that if the Department does not like the recommendations, it does not necessarily put them in place. I do not have further knowledge, other than this paragraph, but it seems clear there are times when recommendations are ignored or changed or that further and other advice is procured that differs from the reports of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

If possible, I seek an analysis in this regard, for which I have asked through parliamentary questions. I acknowledge the Department's staff have been helpful to me and I wish to make clear that I am not being personally critical of anyone. Nevertheless, I wish to ascertain what recommendations were overruled by the Minister and his officials, subsequent to them being made. Why were they overruled, who was consulted and what changes, if any, were made? This is an important point, which I intend to pursue fully on Committee Stage and even before then. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle has suggested the Joint Committee on Transport may be in a position to invite the Marine Casualty Investigation Board to appear before it to get to the bottom of such issues. While I do not attribute motives to anyone in this regard, I would have thought the recommendations contained in a Marine Casualty Investigation Board report would be implemented. This is the key point as it is clear this is not always the case.

Members received such a report into a tragedy last week and I ask that by the time the Bill reaches Committee Stage, the Department of Transport will have completed a full analysis of what has not happened on foot of such reports. Members are familiar with those measures which have been implemented, which are incorporated in legislation, statutory instruments or whatever. However, I am concerned that needless accidents are taking place. I would be satisfied were this legislation to pertain to a key point in the most recent report, which states: "It is recommended that legislation for the construction, stability and safety of Fishing Vessels between 15-24 metres be implemented as soon as possible". The Minister should confirm that he can make regulations for vessels of differing capacities. However, this recommendation is followed by a strange sentence, "The MCIB notes that the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Fishing Vessels)... Regulations 2007 ... was signed by [the] Minister of Transport on 17th September 2007". The point apparently being made is that the Minister did make regulations and signed them into law.

I wonder why this recommendation was included because that sentence is a statement of fact and not a recommendation. I seek clarity in this regard and either the Minister's officials or the Marine Casualty Investigation Board might be able to explain its import. While this is mere surmise, is this because the regulations were made but are not being enforced? What is the issue and why was that statement included?

The next recommendation states:

It is recommended that a Marine Notice be issued to Owners and Skippers of fishing vessels pointing out the dangers of making structural alterations or modifications to fishing methods or equipment without a qualified Naval Architect carrying out an assessment of the effects upon the vessels stability

This issue has arisen in more than one report and I revert to the core issue, namely, what is happening on that front and how is this being policed? An bhfuil morán ama fágtha agam?

Tá níos mó ná naoi nóiméid fágtha.

The key issue is that Members are considering safety and that while this is good legislation, they must consider the recommendations of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board's reports and must examine the reasons the regulations were not enforced.

The second issue pertains to the question of disability access. All Members will concur that making provision and facilities for those who have a disability in respect of transport is highly important. It makes a significant contribution to the rights of individuals to travel on vessels without being disadvantaged by their disability and whatever must be done should be done to assist them. However, there appears to be a lacuna in the information on this Bill and the regulatory impact analysis thereon pertaining to the question of cost. What will be the cost to the State, shipowners and to the community in respect of financial changes and so on? To phrase this point constructively, the Minister, on Committee State, should outline exactly how this measure will be put into operation.

A new regulatory regime is proposed that obviously must be enforced. Consequently, I presume new structures will be established within the Department of Transport and I am certain the cost will be significant. While all Members welcome this and I am not being critical of being obliged to spend money to improve safety at sea, the Minister should outline how he intends to enforce this legislation. Who will enforce it and what will be the cost implications for the taxpayer? I again stress that I welcome this is happening because ultimately, merchant shipping will be much safer on foot of this legislation.

While there is more to be said, I will leave some of it for my colleague, Deputy Broughan, and others. While I do not make this point as a criticism, legislation that is as important as this Bill probably needs more consultation and time before it is finalised. Although Fine Gael does not have a problem with a Second Stage debate, this will be required to get to the nub of issues pertaining to safety at sea and the reports of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board to make our vessels safer in order that lives are not lost needlessly and wasted. If significant issues exist on which the Marine Casualty Investigation Board has made recommendations which are not yet in law, I would like to examine them. In general however, Fine Gael welcomes the Bill and its intent. While Fine Gael will support it, we will require detailed and fine analysis as to the true position at present.

I warmly welcome the introduction of the Merchant Shipping Bill 2009 to the House given that key objectives of the Bill include improving the safety of life at sea, increasing access to passenger vessels for persons with reduced mobility and implementing the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, and the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.

Many of these issues have been key concerns of mine, both as the Labour Party's current transport and former marine spokesperson, although I tend to cover the marine portfolio in this House, and as a Deputy who represents a maritime constituency. I welcome in particular the adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention, which has been described as the seafarers' bill of rights and which attempts to lay down globally recognised standards for among other things, mariners' pay and working conditions. The adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention is in a way a fitting tribute to a colleague of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and mine, the late SIPTU and International Transport Federation official, Mr. Tony Ayton of Tramore and Waterford, who died tragically just after Christmas and who dedicated his life to often single-handedly exposing the exploitation of our mariners. and fighting for decent pay and working conditions for all seafarers. A physical memorial for Mr. Ayton might be considered at some stage. He was a brave and diligent trade union official who at times went onto vessels on which workers endured conditions of near slavery while bringing trade to Ireland. He took risks with his own life and safety and perhaps his achievement should be recognised in the Port of Waterford or Dublin Port. The Minister may be able to facilitate this.

Perhaps it could be located in my native town of Trim, from which Mr. Ayton came.

That would be good.

Some 1.2 million to 1.5 million seafarers and marine workers are out on the seas around our country and across the oceans of the world, with many of them living in appalling conditions, perhaps working for months on end without pay and very often without proper fresh water or food. Obviously, when they come into ports which adhere to reasonable civilised standards, their conditions can be recognised. It is shameful that despite Ireland being one of the most active trading nations on the planet for its size, if not the most active, much of the €150 billion to €200 billion trade of this country is brought here by seafarers who work in appalling conditions which we would not tolerate for a moment in this Republic. In recent days in the House we have discussed terrible scandals in our country in decades past but we should remember that at this very moment there are hundreds of thousands of workers in those conditions to whose rescue we need to go as soon as possible. I hope this convention is the beginning of that process.

Given the huge challenges that currently face the maritime sector and the ongoing allegations of massive exploitation and abuse of marine workers, when one studies the Bill in detail one finds it is not ambitious and comprehensive enough. For example, why does the Bill say nothing about the issue of flags of convenience? On behalf of the Labour Party, some years ago I brought in a Bill which effectively tried to criminalise the use of flags of convenience into and out of our ports, certainly for Irish ships. This was not supported by the Minister or his predecessor but the Bill was still an effort on the part of the Labour Party to address the issue. There are pernicious and long-standing problems with regard to workers' rights, treatment and salaries in this sector. The current Bill is only a starting point and goes nowhere near far enough to addressing those issues.

I referred to concerns in regard to connectivity from Ireland in the debate on the Harbours Bill, in particular connectivity from Dublin, Rosslare, Waterford, Cork, Shannon and Galway. It is an issue to which I may return. I do not know why the initiative, as with regard to the Cork-Swansea issue, always has to come from local communities or local business communities or why the Minister does not play a more proactive role.

Given the importance of shipping and ferry connectivity to our island nation, it is essential the highest maritime safety standards are adhered to and implemented. Why has it taken since 2006 for the maritime labour convention to be brought before the House? In Article VIII, the convention states:

3. This Convention shall come into force 12 months after the date on which there have been registered ratifications by at least 30 Members with a total share in the world gross tonnage of ships of 33 per cent.

4. Thereafter, this Convention shall come into force for any Member 12 months after the date on which its ratification has been registered.

The Minister referred to 2011 but what progress has been made on this issue? I notice that under Article IX a state can denounce the convention ten years after it enters. It seems a flimsy enough basis for international maritime law. There are a series of amendments to SOLAS that have different deadlines for implementation. Which amendments are we dealing with in the Bill and what is their timeframe?

The bulk of sections 5 to 15 of the Bill introduce measures to facilitate amendments to the critically important SOLAS convention, which the Labour Party greatly supports. SOLAS is clearly one of the most important legal mechanisms for regulating maritime safety standards and the earliest version of this convention was, tragically, first passed in the wake of the sinking of the Titanic, a ship built in our own country. I strongly believe that given the importance of safety at sea regulations and the need to prioritise safety standards absolutely, all amendments to SOLAS should be considered and adopted into our law as a matter of urgency. Section 7 specifies construction rules for passenger ships that lay out standards for hull, equipment, machinery, fuel used and so on. Section 12 deals with cargo ship construction and section 14 with bulk carrier rules.

With regard to the fuel used provisions, will there be stipulations for more fuel efficient engines? I recall the debates we had on the Minister's former energy portfolio in regard to CO2 emissions and we are now continuing this with regard to transport and the marine. The marine area is one of the biggest polluters. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency figures for marine bunker CO2 emissions for Ireland were 330.25 kilotonnes for 2005, rising to 404 kilotonnes in 2006 and still close to 400 kilotonnes in 2007. We only have provisional figures for 2008. What action are we taking with regard to CO2 given the importance of marine emissions?

I recently asked the Minister about a study by the International Maritime Organisation and the way maritime emissions should be assessed in the successor to the Kyoto Protocol to be agreed in Copenhagen in December 2009. The Minister told me the Government supports the "adoption of a mandatory CO2 design index for ships" and the development of market-based measures. Where is this in the Bill? Clearly, it is an important element of transport pollution which we will have to address. There are no measures in place to target directly global maritime CO2 emissions. If no agreement is reached in the International Maritime Organisation, then, as the Minister states, Ireland will work within the European Union on the development of suitable measures for Europe. Is he suggesting that fuel efficiency and emissions limits may eventually be introduced for passenger and cargo vessels?

Section 8 refers to radio communications. I note that the Green Dragon yacht competing in the Volvo ocean race was able to communicate live with “The Late Late Show” despite being 700 miles from Galway. Does this mean we could have much more comprehensive radio, television, video and telephone communications with fleets across the globe? The Minister might refer to this in his response.

A strange aspect of the Bill concerns why section 10 of Part 2 exempts troop ships and military vessels from most provisions, including in terms of construction, radio, navigation and tracking, and bulk carrier rules. Why are there specific provisions and why should Ireland exclude itself from safety and accessibility requirements in regard to the Naval Service? The Leas-Cheann Comhairle may have noticed that the UK courts decided that the European Union equality and civil rights rules will apply across the British armed forces. Why should we have this old-style exclusion? All of the accessibility issues also refer.

Part 3 of the Bill provides absolutely critical measures to enhance access for persons with reduced mobility. The Labour Party, as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will remember as he was a member of that Government, established a Department concerned with equality and began the major campaign which continues down to the present for rights for all citizens. Given that we have campaigned so long for full accessibility, it is good to see it at long last in legislation. Again, however, we must ask why it has taken four years for the Disability Act to be reflected in any kind of legislation on marine transport. Will the Minister explain whether all passenger vessels will be subject to invigilation for disability and reduced mobility access? While citizens with disabilities can avail of the usual lift from the car deck on the fine ships that sail out of Dublin and Rosslare, they continue to face disability challenges elsewhere on ferry services. Will ships be modified to facilitate all citizens?

In welcoming Part 4 of the Bill I join Deputy O'Dowd in paying tribute to the work of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board. As Labour Party spokesperson on the marine, I read each of the board's valuable and helpful reports. The reports which are usually clearly and cogently written give us a great sense of the safety problems that can arise on Irish boats and ships. My colleague, Deputy O'Dowd, has detailed all of that work. The Minister is right to validate the statutory basis of all of the board's reports. I was so struck by them that I asked the Minister, following discussions on road safety with Mr. Noel Brett, whether similar reports could be compiled on every traffic collision. Perhaps that proposal can be reconsidered at this time.

My colleague in the other House, Senator McCarthy, has called on the Government to reverse its appalling decision not to salvage the Asgard II which represents a critical part of the country’s marine heritage. The Labour Party candidate in the East constituency in the forthcoming European elections, Nessa Childers, has been emphasising the fact that insurance money of €3.1 million is readily available to facilitate the salvage of the vessel. I urge the Minister to plead with his colleague, the Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea, to reverse the Government’s decision on the matter.

One of the most important aspects of the Bill is the proposal to give the force of law to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. As I said, it is critically important that seafarers' rights be protected. The events at Irish Ferries some years ago heralded the start of the maritime industry's race to the bottom when it comes to employment rights. In 2006 the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Mr. Paddy Crumlin, said, "seafarers' lives are often marred by crushing exploitation, savage intimidation and life and limb threatening neglect." Many Irish people were shocked when Irish Ferries announced its redundancy and outsourcing plans which involved the sacking of 543 workers and their replacement by east European workers. The use of foreign flags of convenience means migrant workers are paid a pittance, have much poorer working conditions and are not protected by minimum Irish labour laws. Mr. Tony Ayton highlighted such profoundly disturbing trends in the marine employment sector over many years. His colleagues in SIPTU and the International Transport Workers Federation have continued that work.

In the case of the old Cork-Swansea route, many workers from eastern Europe had to endure rates of pay that were approximately half the level of the Irish national minimum wage. They had to work under an excessively harsh regime of long hours and unpaid leave. Crews on the MV Normandy had to work for four months before getting three weeks unpaid leave. When will that type of regime become illegal? The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 clearly states workers should be paid monthly, that payments should be made into their bank accounts and that there should be no possibility of contract work only. It states seafarers are entitled to received statements of working conditions, setting out the actual work they are expected to do. When will the convention come into operation?

Earlier this week I submitted a parliamentary question asking the Minister to report on the entry of the MV Defender into Irish waters and to comment on allegations that its crew members were owed thousands of euro in unpaid wages. According to the reply I received, the vessel which is registered in Cambodia “was detained in Cork on 17 April 2008 following an inspection carried out by marine surveyors” from the Department of Transport. The reply indicated that the surveyors’ inspection “revealed a total of 14 deficiencies, 5 of which posed an immediate and serious threat to the safety of the ship and the crew”. It continued:

During January 2009 the vessel was under detention for 11 days in the United Kingdom. On 3rd March 2009, the vessel was inspected in Cork and the surveyors noted several deficiencies, including watch keeping arrangements, safety management and matters related to living and working conditions onboard, which warranted the further detention of the ship.

The International Transport Workers Federation established that, on all three occasions when the MV Defender entered Irish waters, the crew had not been paid. The reality is that significant trade activities are being undertaken by workers who have to endure terrible wage and working conditions. In his reply to my parliamentary question the Minister claimed that his Department “does not have responsibility for the non-payment of wages on board foreign flagged ships”. He argued that “it is a matter for the flag State, in this case Cambodia.”

A couple of weeks ago the Irish Examiner published a shocking in-depth interview with Mr. Tony Ayton’s successor at SIPTU and the International Transport Workers Federation, Mr. Ken Fleming. He gave details of the horrific system of “mass exploitation” in operation on the seas. He said that, in effect, there was a system of “slave labour” in operation among foreign national seafarers. This system is facilitated by the use of flags of convenience to circumvent employment law that provides for, at least, the minimum national legal protection for workers. Unfortunately, ferry companies are re-registering their ships in jurisdictions such as the Bahamas, Cambodia, Mongolia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The fact that ships are being registered in Mongolia which is landlocked is an indication of how utterly disgraceful the international system of registration is. Hundreds of ships have been re-registered in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, which is high in the mountains. Workers on ships supposed to be part of the Mongolian fleet are sailing into ports throughout the world, including Ireland.

In the light of the serious problems in the maritime employment and shipping sectors, some of which I have mentioned, the enactment of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 which will bring together more than 60 existing conventions is greatly welcome. All ships of a certain size will have to carry a labour certificate. The Maritime Labour Convention is a comprehensive document. I greatly welcome the strict guidelines, regulations and standards on wages set out in it. I am pleased that seafarers' wages will be paid at intervals of no greater than one month. I also welcome the regulations on hours of rest, minimum wages, leave entitlements and the minimum age for seafarers. I note that the convention refers to collective bargaining agreements. Does this mean that collective agreements and trade union rights will have to be recognised on every ship that comes into this country's ports? Will that be the case when this legislation has been passed? The regulations contained in the Bill allow for a system of compliance, including surveys, certification, inspections, reporting and monitoring. The Minister has mentioned that a maximum fine of €5,000 will be imposed, on summary conviction, on shipping companies which do not comply with the regulations. He has also said the fine will be increased to €100,000 on indictment. When one considers the value of the trade that can be involved in such cases, these fines seem very low.

Serious questions need to be asked about how this system will be implemented and effectively monitored and regulated. Foreign-flagged ships are monitored through port state control inspections which are carried out under the auspices of the Paris memorandum of understanding on port state control and under various EU directives. There are just 27 members of the Paris memorandum of understanding covering the European coastal states and the coastal states of the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe. The states in question include Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania. Are we doing any more than talking about these states? Anybody who examines the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 which is a fine document will be happy that at long last some basic labour rights are to be upheld on ships. However, they will ask what is to be done in respect of other countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mongolia and Gambia which are tiny in economic terms but which have huge fleets. Will the standards established in the Bill under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 apply to states other than those which have signed up to the convention and are members of the Paris memorandum of understanding on port state control?

The Paris memorandum states:

In applying a relevant instrument for the purposes of port State control, the principle of "no more favourable treatment" is applied to ships which fly the flag of a State which is not a Party to that convention. In such a case ships shall be subject to a detailed inspection and the PSCO will follow the same guidelines as those provided for ships to which the relevant instruments are applicable.

Does this mean that a large part of the legislation before us is unworkable and if flags of convenience come into Cork or Waterford ports we have no more control over them than we would over one of the 27 countries?

Article 5, subsection 4, of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 states that a ship to which the convention applies may, in accordance with international law, be inspected by a member other than the flag state when the ship is in one of its ports to determine whether the ship is in compliance with the requirements of the convention. Article 5, subsection 7, states that each member shall implement its responsibilities under this convention in such a way as to ensure that the ships that fly the flag of any state that has not ratified this convention do not receive more favourable treatment than the ships that fly the flag of any state that has ratified it. Is this subsection implicitly driving a coach and four through the legislation, to quote the great Daniel O'Connell? In other words, the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention by only 27 countries means that it cannot be implemented. The provisions at that point, which are carried over into the Bill, seem contradictory.

One of the key criticisms of the port state control mechanism by Ken Fleming and the International Transport Workers Federation and SIPTU is that all matters relating to the fiscal entitlements including non-payment of wages of maritime workers are not within its remit. Will the Minister confirm that is the case and will this change under this legislation? Will the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention mean that inspectors will investigate allegations of non-payment of wages to mariners on non-Irish registered ships in Irish ports who are not party to the Paris memorandum or the Maritime Labour Convention?

Will port state control now have a mandate to look after crews in terms of exploitation and non-payment of wages? Will the rotten system that we saw on the MV Defender and a host of other ships coming here, disgracefully bringing in and out our vital trade with what was effectively semi-slave labour be brought to an end? As a maritime people, an island nation, we must take a lead role in this matter. The other serious problem here is that there are just 22 inspectors operating and monitoring vessels in Irish waters and ports.

I join my colleague in Fine Gael in commending the Bills Office and the Department of Transport for their help with this Bill. One of the points that jumps out when one sees the size of our trade is that virtually everything we import comes by sea. Only a small portion comes by air. Why are there so few inspectors? Just 22 inspectors is not a robust enough team to deal with the pernicious and profound problem of exploitation of workers in the maritime sector. Is the Minister planning to increase the number of inspectors, given the introduction of this new legislation? He has new resources in the Maritime Development Office. The Opposition would welcome a discussion of what happens in that office. It is an interesting new agency which has operated for five or six years and I would welcome a report from the Minister on what it has been doing, particularly in respect of expanding the Irish flag for the ships flagged with the tricolour. The Minister or one of his colleagues was at a function with a north Italian company which reflagged its fleet to Ireland, specifically to Cork port. What are the implications of this in respect of jobs and value to the economy in Cork city and region? What did we get from that?

One theme running through the whole maritime sector is the problem of the use of flags of convenience. In 2005 I introduced my own Private Members' Bill, the Mercantile Marine (Avoidance of Flags of Convenience) Bill 2005 to address the growing problem of flags of convenience and to give legislative effect to the requirement that there must exist a genuine link between an Irish registered ship and any state where it is proposed to re-register that ship. This arose from the fall-out from the Irish Ferries debacle but at the time some of the Minister's colleagues considered this was a reasonable requirement in legislation to protect Irish maritime workers, and I would like the Department to revisit that Bill.

The Labour Party Bill set out the circumstances where this Act applies. Section 21 of the Mercantile Marine Act 1955 states that the Minister with responsibility for the marine may, in his absolute discretion, on the application of a qualified person to register a ship under the law of another country, consent to such registry by that person. I understand the Minister or his predecessor did that in respect of Irish Ferries. The Labour Party Bill proposed to add new criteria in circumstances where a person applies to register an Irish ship under the law of another country, the ship concerned being one that regularly proceeds to sea from a port in the State to any other port in the State or to a port in any other member state of the European Union, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The Minister may consent to such registry by that person if, but only if the applicant is a national of a member state or a body corporate. We tried to change the rotten system of flags of convenience but the Government and its Fianna Fáil leadership were not prepared to back us in that attempt. The situation is horrendous and we must address it, or in 30 or 40 years' time people will come in to this House asking why we allowed our trade to be carried out under these disgraceful conditions for so long. I again urge the Minister to change this.

I welcome the introduction of the Merchant Shipping Bill to the Houses of the Oireachtas but I believe certain amendments are necessary to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement regime and to address the horrific exploitation of seafarers. I intend to bring forward a number of amendments on Committee Stage on behalf of the Labour Party. It would be ideal if the document that underlies the treatment of maritime workers, the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which is a comprehensive and fine document in respect of the conditions it lays down for maritime workers, were the law of the land. We would strongly support whatever the Minister could do to make it so. I urge the Minister to deal with the parts of the convention that we believe are not being implemented through the Bill.

Debate adjourned.