§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
My right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Sir John Stanley) announced on 18 April 1985 at column 251 that we were considering a change in the status of FRA vessels which108W would have meant their ceasing to be registered as British merchant ships for the purpose of the Merchant Shipping Acts, and operating instead as Government-owned vessels on non-commercial service.
We gave an undertaking that full consultation would follow that announcement and during that process it became clear that this proposal could have had unwelcome implications for the legal rights of RFA personnel. We have therefore decided to prepare instead a new Order in Council to replace the 1911 Order in Council which now governs all RFA vessels. The new Order in Council will enable RFA vessels to be designed and operated in a way which will meet military requirements, and to remain as British-registered vessels.