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The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I wonder whether the amendment will be necessary. The Bill will allow such people to have 80 millilitres, or whatever, of alcohol in their blood.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: It is 80 milligrams.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Eighty milligrams. Members of lifeboat crews will not be required to live a totally abstinent life. They will be allowed to have their two pints of beer which I believe does come within the 80—I shall not mention again the units.

Lord Greenway: I declare an interest as a member of the committee of management of the RNLI. I should be interested to hear what the Minister has to say on this issue. The noble Viscount is quite correct. Now, roughly half of lifeboat crews are paid, but those who

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are unpaid are largely those who man what we call the inshore lifeboats, the fast response, semi-inflatable boats.

It is true that in the old days some of the lifeboat men could even be employed in the pub and when the maroon went up they dashed off regardless to save lives at sea. Things have changed a little since then, but I would be intrigued to hear the response of the Minister.

Viscount Simon: I have one comment to make on the introduction to the amendment by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor. There is one point with which I disagree. He stated that alcohol taken with medication might disagree. However, one should not take alcohol with medication when it is stated that one should not do so.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I hoped that my noble friend Lord Fyfe would confirm my recollection of the films, "Whisky Galore" and "Local Hero", but he was not entirely willing to do so. The killer argument against the amendment is that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution supports the proposal within the Bill.

Looking at this purely from a safety point of view, it would be slightly odd if people doing the same thing should have a different regime according to whether they were full time or volunteers. Certainly, they have the same regime if they are on shore because whether they are professional, paid lifeboat men or volunteer lifeboat men, they are subject to the normal drink/driving rules when they are driving to the launch, jetty, or whatever it is.

Lord Greenway: Slipway.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The slipway of the lifeboat. Surely, if that applies on shore it should apply at sea, purely from the point of view of safety. Incidentally, I hope that the 25-year award to the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, was for long service and good conduct, not just for long service.

Viscount Astor: Sadly, it was just for long service. I do not think there was any mention of good conduct.

I am grateful to all noble Lords who spoke in this short debate. As always, I shall study carefully what the Minister said. I am much reassured by the views of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. However, it was an interesting aspect to raise so that we all clearly understand what will be the new duties, which are significant. On the west coast of Scotland half the crews are voluntary. They are on standby and certainly this will be a matter of which they must be aware. When they are on standby and there is a limited number of them, some will have to behave in a rather more sober fashion than their compatriots who are not on standby. That will have to be disseminated throughout. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 78 agreed to.

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4.30 p.m.

Clause 79 [Non-professionals]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 40:

    Page 33, line 32, after "person" insert ", subject to their being in a position to pose a substantial safety risk,"

The noble Viscount said: Again, this is a probing amendment. As regards regulations, we felt that the Secretary of State should be governed by certain criteria. Occasionally, we risk being over-prescriptive. The amendment introduces the words:

    "pose a substantial safety risk".

That is by way of giving guidance to the Secretary of State as regards recreational craft. There are always examples, both for non-professionals and professionals, where behaviour is not as one hopes, whether in ships, cars or anything else. However, in general it seems to me that the marine fraternity are fairly well behaved and we should not be over-prescriptive.

There does not seem to be a huge problem or a substantial threat to safety. However, the amendment is an attempt to understand the way in which the Government are thinking when considering regulations. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether draft regulations will be available during the passage of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Greenway: This has to do with what the Minister described at Second Reading as a proportionate approach reflecting on safety risks. As the Minister said, at present consultations are taking place with the boating authority. Can he give us any information as to how those consultations are proceeding? We shall have more to say on this matter in an amendment soon to be debated.

The whole nub of non-professionals is a difficult issue. Many people are involved. We are talking of millions of people who go to sea in leisure craft. This is a matter which should be carefully considered. I am sure that that will happen in the consultation process. However, I should like an opportunity to discuss such matters in detail when we have seen the draft regulations.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am concerned with the declaratory effect which would arise if through the Bill Parliament were saying that it is okay for people in private vessels to be over the limit. I believe that would be unhelpful. Therefore, I hope that considerable thought will be given to the idea of exempting.

Viscount Astor: My amendment says nothing of the kind.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It could say something of the kind. It could be interpreted to override the limit of 80 milligrams per millilitre in cases where there is no substantial safety risk. I am grateful for the amendment and the attempt to guide the consultations which are taking place on which vessels or which people should be exempt in the regulations being produced under Clause 79(4).

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However, as it stands, in addition to being slightly ambiguous about allowing people to exceed the limit, the amendment is difficult to interpret, to define and to legislate. The uncertainty would affect both those who are regulated and the police who would have the task of enforcing the provisions. In the absence of guidance from regulations, how are they to know what is a substantial safety risk?

Consultations on the regulations are proceeding. I cannot give an undertaking that they will be available before the passage of the Bill. However, I can give the assurance that they are proceeding well and that they will come to a positive conclusion. I suspect that the result will be a more precise definition, such as distinguishing between a rowing boat and a jet-ski rather than a phrase such as that in the amendment.

I recognise that the amendment is well-meaning and seeks to tease out what is happening as regards regulations. I am sorry that I cannot be any more precise than I have been.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful to the Minister. If I had a better memory, I would think back to debates on other Bills where the Government have argued that "substantial" is a perfectly reasonable word and that it is perfectly possible to define it in many circumstances. Luckily for the Minister and the rest of the Committee I am certainly unable to remember any of those circumstances today.

As I said, the amendment was largely an attempt to try to understand the Government's thinking, and certainly not to override. It is also to say to the Government that when they come forward I hope that the approach will be proportional and not too prescriptive. If it is, clearly, it will not work. I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 41:

    Page 33, line 36, at end insert—

"(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1) a ship includes a vessel used in a private capacity for sport or leisure purposes."

The noble Viscount said: This is what we might call the jet-ski amendment. The Minister was helpful in an earlier amendment and said that we really do not need this amendment because of Clause 88(1)(a). It is generous and kind of the Minister to point me in the right direction. For the benefit of noble Lords, that clause states:

    "(1) In this Part—

    (a) "ship" includes every description of vessel used in navigation".

The question is whether a jet-ski, or something like it, fits that description. If one reads subsection (1), one thinks it might be more helpful. It states:

    "a reference to the navigation of a vessel includes a reference to the control or direction, or participation in the control or direction, of the course of a vessel".

I do not know about the rest of the Committee, but to those of us who occasionally watch people on jet-skis it seems that they have no control of the course or the

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direction. They seem to roar around in an entirely random fashion. The only direction they seem to have is to get as close as they can in order to disturb one as much as possible.

I hope that people control jet-skis. I am sure that most do but some do not. The amendment seeks to determine the Government's thinking. For example, will something with an engine be defined by the Bill? It would be helpful to know that. Would that include something with an outboard or an inboard? It would be helpful to know the kind of definition involved. I do not ask the Minister to draft regulations in his head today. However, perhaps he could give some help on how this will be considered in future. I beg to move.

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