Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Twelfth Report



88. The British shipping industry is vital to this country. Its unique contribution, and the unfair competition it faces from abroad, means that it deserves special protection. However, the industry is currently close to crisis. Urgent efforts must be made to bolster the industry generally, and in particular to increase the number of ships on the UK register, and to increase the number of British seafarers.

89. In general, we warmly welcome the daughter document, British Shipping: Charting a new course, which represents an attempt to frame an all-embracing solution to the problems facing the UK shipping industry. However, we are concerned that only one of the Actions proposed in the document refers to additional Government resources, and it promises only £18.6 million over three years.[191] There is also no mention in the document of targets by which the success or otherwise of the Actions can be measured. The document also ducks the most important subject, that of the tonnage tax. We recommend that the Government should set itself ambitious targets and deadlines for enhancing the situation of the UK shipping industry. There must be improvements in the number, weight and type of vessels on the UK register, and the number, age distribution, and quality of British seafarers. It should devote adequate resources—rather more than £18.6 million over three years—to meet those targets. Finally, it should introduce the radical and positive fiscal measures, relating to the tonnage tax, and the Foreign Earnings Deduction scheme, which we have described above. Only by doing so will it reverse the decline in the UK shipping industry, and if it does not do so the future of the shipping industry, of the shore-based industries, including Maritime London, and of the United Kingdom's ability to defend itself, looks extremely bleak.

191   See British Shipping: Charting a new course, Action 6, p.27. Back

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