Commons Gate

The New National Boatmasters’ Licence (HC 320-i)

Transport Committee 7 Feb 2006

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Evidence given by Witnesses: Mr Colin Middlemiss, Clerk, and Mr Christopher Livett, Member of the Court and Past Master, The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames; Mr Alex Hickman, Chairman, and Captain Scott Newton, Master of the Woolwich Ferry, The Watermen's and Lightermen's Practitioners' Committee; Professor Alan Lee Williams OBE, Chairman, and Mr Jack Faram MBE, Honorary Director, Transport on Water Association,Dr Roger Squires, Deputy National Chairman and Chairman of the Navigation Committee, Inland Waterways Association,Mr Peter Hugman, Commercial Boat Operators' Association, Captain John Percival, Member and Training Adviser, and Captain Heather Chaplin, Director, Association of Inland Shipping Operators

Q37 Mr. David Clelland: Just on that last point, the detrimental effects you are talking about in terms of the licence in terms of the Thames, would that apply to other rivers in the country or is it just peculiar to the Thames?

Mr Hickman: In most areas in the UK the proposals will be an improvement on much of the UK legislation. Remember that we only had a passenger boat licence, if you like, the MCA Boatmasters' Licence, so much of what is being proposed will be improvements for much of the UK, but it is the Thames primarily which has got the major issues, although there are other areas that I have been informed about which have got issues with the new licence as well, but you will have to ask those areas and the representatives of those areas about that.

Professor Williams: Could I just make one point because a number of watermen and lightermen, of course, work around the other river. As you refer to the House of Lords as "the other place", we refer to "the other river" as being the River Medway. During the period of the fifties and the sixties the trade around there was quite sparse, though I understand it is now picking up. A lighterman operating in that vicinity would need to know his stuff in the lower reaches, but under the old licensing system the whole of the river was his domain, so he had to be knowledgeable. Whether he was an "up to" man or a "down below" man, he had to know the whole of the river. I speak personally on this, and I do not know whether my colleagues would agree with me but I thought the method of training under the old system takes some beating.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

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Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB