The Merchant Shipping Bill 2009

24th June, 2010

The Merchant Shipping Bill 2009

I spent all of yesterday grappling with this bill. It is not an area that I have a huge amount of expertise in so I spent the most of the day reading every section of the bill.

I spotted a number of points that I raised with the Minister in the committee stage of the bill. Some minor points in relation to drafting and asking why a steam passenger turns into a ship in the same section of the bill. Unfortunately the Minister for this part of the bill was the Minister for Overseas Development Peter Power TD. While he did a fine job, the fact that ‘sea’ is contained in his Ministerial title didn’t indicate a huge amount of expertise on the matter either. However, in fairness he did well.

I did however spot a lacuna in the Bill that I hope will lead to it’s improvement. A safety manning document needs to be created and approved for each vessel. This is to make sure that the right crew with the right training is on the vessel. However I pointed out that the only place this document needs to be stored is on the ship itself. There is no requirement for a copy of the document to be stored elsewhere (eg in the Department of the Marine).

So what if, God forbids, the ship sinks or something happens to the document?

The Minister conceded the point. I hope that he can deal with this issue via regulation as it is an important point. So I wasn’t completely at sea then (you need all the humour you can get at the moment….).