It was in my view a blatant attempt to deceive people into not applying for Houseboat Certificates and highlights exactly why people like me made damn sure we got these definitions enshrined in the the primary legislation.
Then as now many residential Boaters simply don't trust British Waterways and this example highlights why that mistrust is justified.
Stage One Complaint of 30 October 2009
BW’s “General Terms and Conditions for Boat Licences (October 2008 version), says the following.
a) Page 1 – Definitions
“1.4 “Houseboat” means a boat that is not used for navigation and is kept on a long term mooring with planning consent for residential use.”
“Movement of houseboat
In your Stage One response you hold that a craft issued with a Houseboat Certificate may not be used for cruising. Specifically your reply on this point turns on the following assertion:
Accordingly, when interpreted in the light of the definition of 'houseboat' in the 1971 Act, the word ‘move’ clearly refers to a change in the location of the houseboat rather than its use for general navigation.
1. BW gave evidence to Parliament in 1990/91 that a boat holding a Houseboat certificate could be used for cruising.
In evidence to the House of Lords in support of the then Waterways Bill you submitted a document entitled Licensing and Certification of Vessels. Appended to that submission as item 4 you submitted the then current Houseboat Certificate Terms and Conditions which state they had been effective form 01 August 1980. Clause 11 therein says:
A registered houseboat may be used for cruising (but not for hire), the Houseboat certificate being acceptable to the Board as a Pleasure Boat Licence for the purpose of the Board’s Byelaws.
This appears to confirm that for approximately ten years before you submitted your evidence to the House of Lords i.e. since the very early 1980’s, you had interpreted the 1971 Act in a way that permitted Houseboats to be used as cruising boats when away from their home mooring.
How do you reconcile this evidence, submitted by yourselves to the House of Lords Committee, with the contradictory interpretation I have just received? You have in effect offered Parliament a different interpretation to that you have now (and previously) offered me.
2. BW also explicitly agreed with the proposition that a houseboat could also be used for cruising during detailed scrutiny of the bill, to the extent you proposed an amendment to facilitate it.
This assertion is supported by the record: The House of Lords Special Report on the then Waterways Bill, at paragraph 28 the report states.
28. Several petitioners argued that the Schedule [Schedule 1] was inconsistent in stating that houseboats could be used for navigation, but that they could not without written consent moor at another site. The Board suggested an amendment to make clear that the prohibition on mooring elsewhere did not hold good when the boat was cruising; in such conditions the houseboat could use sites set aside for cruising boats.
This seems unequivocal evidence that at that time of formulating Schedule 1 and Section 15 of the 95 Act both the Board and Parliament expressly intended that the word “move” in Schedule 1 and Section 15 were intended to facilitate use of a Houseboat as a leisure craft, if the holder chose to, without seeking a separate licence.
It appears to me that you are now set on interpreting the 1971 Act in a different way to that which you said applied when you sought the 1995 legislation and for the preceding decade.
I invite you to re-consider your present position.