Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Twelfth Report


The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:—



1. The Transport Committee investigated the state of the British shipping industry in 1988, and concluded that it had declined to such an extent that action was needed to remedy the situation.[1] Since then the industry's decline has continued. Therefore, in October 1998 the Transport Sub-committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into the Future of the UK Shipping Industry. Our Terms of Reference were to establish what action and partnership is required of the industry and government to develop a sustainable, internationally competitive, shipping industry; the benefits of encouraging UK ship registration, the extent and implications of 'flagging out', and the specific position of the Isle of Man registry; the contribution that shipping can make to achieving the objectives of the Transport White Paper; whether enough UK-registered shipping is available to fulfil the country's strategic needs and international obligations; the present level of employment of UK seafarers, the effects of any present and future shortage of skilled personnel in the shipping industry and in related on-shore industries, and how the training and employment of UK seafarers can be promoted; what the UK can learn from the experience of other countries in dealing with similar problems, and the role of the European Union; and the role and importance of on-shore shipping services provided in the UK, such as insurance and ship-broking.[2]

2. We received a great deal of written evidence, from a wide range of interested parties. We took oral evidence on five occasions, from witnesses including academics, the maritime Unions, the Chamber of Shipping, the European Commission, the Ministry of Defence, HM Treasury, the Board of Inland Revenue, and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.[3] Our deliberations were also much assisted by our specialist adviser, Professor James McConville, of London Guildhall University. We are most grateful to those who submitted written and oral evidence, and who otherwise aided the Sub-committee in its work.

3. During the course of our inquiry, on 16 December 1998, the Government published British Shipping: Charting a new course.[4] This was a daughter document of the White Paper on the Future of Transport.[5] Inevitably, the publication of this document greatly influenced the course of our inquiry. Indeed, in the foreword to the daughter document, the Deputy Prime Minister said that he trusted "that the Transport Sub-committee of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee will find much of relevance and interest in this paper in connection with their inquiry into the Future of the UK Shipping Industry".[6] That has proved to be true, and we refer frequently to the daughter document throughout our report.

1   See The Decline in the UK-registered Merchant Fleet, First Report from the Transport Committee, HC (1987-88) 303. Back

2   See Press Notice 74/97-98, issued by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, 22 October 1998. Back

3   Our witnesses were: Dr David Glen, Reader, Centre for International Transport Management, London Guildhall University, Mrs Barbara Fletcher, Director of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, Mr Bernard Gardner, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Maritime Studies and International Transport, Cardiff University, Mr Jimmy Knapp, General Secretary of the RMT, and Mr Brian Orrell, General Secretary of NUMAST on 20 January 1999; Mr David Cobb, President, Vice-Admiral Sir Christopher Morgan, Director-General, Mr John Lusted, Deputy Director-General, and Mr Mark Brownrigg, Director of Shipping Policy and External Affairs, Chamber of Shipping, Mr Hugh McCoy, Chairman, and Mr Jim Buckley, Chief Executive, Baltic Exchange, and Lord Sterling, Chairman, and Mr Peter Smith, Director of Corporate Affairs, P&O, Mr Jan Kopernicki, Vice-President of Shipping, and Dr Peter Swift, General Manager, Business Development, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited, and Mr Michael Everard CBE, owner of F T Everard and Sons Limited on 27 January 1999; Mrs Georgette Lalis, Director for Maritime Transport, and Mr Andrew Fielding, Acting Head of Unit for the Internal Market and Community Law, Directorate General 7 (Transport), European Commission, and Major General Graham A. Ewer CB, CBE, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Logistics), and officials, Ministry of Defence on 10 February 1999; Ms Glenda Jackson MP, Minister for Shipping, and officials, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on 24 February 1999; and from officials from Inland Revenue and HM Treasury, and from the Chamber of Shipping on 17 March 1999. Back

4   British Shipping: Charting a new course, December 1998, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions; see HC Deb, 16 December 1998, col.533wBack

5   A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, Cm 3950; see HC Deb, 20 July 1998, col.783 ff. Back

6   British Shipping: Charting a new course, December 1998, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, p.3. Back

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