Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 2001
280. What are the consequences? Are lots more
near-misses and dangerous situations occurring?
(Captain Glass) I have seen no evidence to indicate
281. You are uneasy about it.
(Captain Glass) Yes, I am uneasy. Being responsible
for the inspection regime or local lights we visit every port,
we inspect the 9,500 local aids to navigation and we are continuously
expressing our concern.
282. Do you think that the one incident which
perhaps has been argued was a one-off at Milford Haven might be
repeated somewhere else, if not with quite such disastrous environmental
(Captain Glass) That was a particularly disastrous
incident, but I hope that things have improved and I know that
the intent of the port marine safety code and the guide to good
practice and the standardising of pilot training will go a long
way to improving the likelihood of it never occurring again. I
cannot say that it will not happen.
283. What about the recruitment of people who
are suitably qualified for the whole of this area? Is that a problem?
(Captain Glass) Recruitment of pilots?
284. Recruitment of pilots, the whole of the
inspection regime in ports.
(Captain Glass) It is certainly under pressure, it
must be with the reduction in British ships and British mariners
from whence all these people are drawn or have traditionally been
285. What needs to be done about it?
(Captain Glass) Our experience is that there is no
recruitment problem. There are plenty of young people out there
who would like to go to sea. We run a cadet training scheme under
the corporate charity and we have 60 cadets in training at all
times. For every 15 places each year we get literally hundreds
of applicants. Our problem is finding enough British ships with
enough bunks to put them in. That is where we are under pressure.
We have great hope that the tonnage tax will put more British
ships available to us to put our youngsters in to train.
286. Do you think that then will increase the
number of people who are in training?
(Captain Glass) Yes; we certainly hope so.
287. What role is played by the Corporation
of Trinity House in terms of advising the ports industry on safety
and training matters?
(Captain Glass) Our only statutory duty is inspection
of their aids to navigation, their lighthouses, buoys, beacons
and all that manner of things. During our annual inspection of
local aids we do undertake consultation with the harbour master
and his representatives and assist in risk assessment of the port
entry and departure, where they should deploy their aids to navigation
to the best effect, because we are the experts and we are responsible
for the general navigation around the whole of the coast. That
is the only interface at which we consult with the ports and advise
them on how best to do it.
288. Do you have a view as to whether more could
be done to seek the advice of the Corporation and indeed other
(Captain Glass) Certainly we should like to do more
of the same and we probably will. We have already been approached
by a number of ports who are carrying out their safety assessment
under the port and marine safety code for the first time. We have
given advice on how to carry out the safety assessment and how
to effect the changes which will improve the navigable waters
which they are dealing with. That is about the extent of our jurisdiction
and really the extent of our expertise as we are not involved
in port pilotage any more.
289. May I ask what your view is of the European
Commission's Directive on port services?
(Captain Glass) We have yet to form a view. We received
the draft document and are considering it but our only involvement
would be safety and navigation and deployment of aids to navigation.
We have yet to come up with an opinion on that.
290. Presumably you feel it would have an impact
on the pilotage services.
(Captain Glass) Yes, it will on port pilotage.
291. You will then at some point form an opinion
which you will make known to the Government?
(Captain Glass) Yes, we will.
292. You would not like to hurry up and do that
so the Committee could know as well would you?
(Captain Glass) Point taken.
293. Are you going to?
(Captain Glass) Yes.
294. Can you say whether you are satisfied with
the length of time it has taken the Government to produce Modern
Ports: A UK Policy?
(Captain Glass) It took a long time, we are very conscious
of that and we are sympathetic to that inasmuch as it is a multi-faceted
piece of work and it meant an awful lot of work had to be done.
The timing really was probably beneficial in that it is now in
step with DETR's work on the port and marine safety code and the
guide to good practice. When the code comes into force at the
end of this year it will be a year after the policy arrived and
will form more of a coordinated approach and a guidance for users
both ashore and afloat.
295. You are used in effect to having the power
to influence the way that particular things happen. Do you think
the code has sufficient teeth?
(Captain Glass) Probably from the corporate point
of view no. We should like to have seen powers and probably hope
that power will be possible in the future.
296. Have you made that position clear to the
(Captain Glass) Yes, we have.
297. Are there particular aspects which you
have made clear to the Department?
(Captain Glass) The whole philosophy of putting your
house in order and the public accountability being probably the
perceived stick, is not quite appreciated by everybody. It needs
more than that: it needs some teeth. Having had the privilege
of assisting in the writing of the code and the guide, I really
do look forward to teeth being applied, not now but in the future.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed, you have
both been very helpful.