Examination of witnesses (Questions 240
WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY 1999
and MR JIM
240. But what else would you do to strengthen
(Mr McCoy) I think there are two ways of doing
this. You either offer incentive, as happened with the British
investment grant in the 1970s and I am not advocating that, Chairman,
but just giving it as an example, and this is where shipowners
were given money to put ships under the British registry.
241. Yes, some of us remember that.
(Mr McCoy) I remember it well. You can do what
is now contemplated which is to create the atmosphere for ships
to come into the British registry. That takes time. The former
measure is a quick one. I cannot think of many more measures that
you would need to do other than giving money away.
242. Let me remind you, you did advocate
as the Baltic Exchange a second parallel UK Register with acknowledged
high safety standards and open to any nationality.
(Mr McCoy) Yes.
243. So what impact would that have?
(Mr McCoy) May I ask Jim to answer that question.
244. That is called delegation, Mr Buckley,
(Mr Buckley) I spend my life being delegated to
and thoroughly enjoy it, Chairman. The whole thrust of the British
Open Register was exactly that which Singapore is offering today
and historically sprang out of the announcement that Hong Kong
was going back to China. There was a vast fleet in Hong Kong and
it was searching for a home. What we were after was enhancing
London as a business centre, so although I used the symbol of
an open register and a British flag, the thrust of the British
Open Register was to attract overseas entrepreneurs to London
to place their business with the maritime services of London.
245. You are saying that would not be affected
one way or the other by a register?
(Mr Buckley) Yes, it would bring people to this
British Open Register if that proposal were to be followed through
and it would put more ships there which would give more political
influence to the UK Government, and it would certainly bring more
in the way of registration fees, but, most important of all, it
would bring business through London and that is why we proposed
246. Do you believe that there ought to
be a conscious political programme followed to encourage the development
of the Isle of Man Register as a second UK register?
(Mr Buckley) The Isle of Man Register is of course
a second UK register in some senses and it is also an open register
in some senses. The disadvantage, and I am conscious that this
is being recorded, that the Isle of Man has, I guess, is that
it is not moored off Tower Pier and close to the City of London
because it is not bringing the business into the City of London
which is where we are coming from.
Chairman: That may
be a little bit beyond even the Manx Parliament, Mr Buckley.
247. Just for clarification, I am getting
the impression that what you are primarily interested in, understandably,
is whether international maritime business is conducted through
(Mr McCoy) Absolutely.
248. We have a beggar-thy-neighbour world
system where if there are measures taken to attract people to
a particular register in one part of the world, another part of
the world tries to beat that. I am not suggesting that you have
got the answer to that today, indeed I do not think any of us
has, but that appears to be the overall situation. Am I correct,
therefore, in assuming that as far as the Baltic Exchange is concerned,
you are not particularly bothered where they are registered, but
it is where they do business?
(Mr McCoy) Yes, Chairman, I think this is a fair
statement. That is why I said in my opening remarks that we are
commercially driven by international trade.
249. Indeed, but the question, therefore,
I would like to ask, if I might, is: do you, therefore, see any
dangers whatsoever in the obliteration of the UK Register, the
UK as a maritime presence, which is, in terms of your business,
very small, and the continuing success of your business? Is there
any relationship whatsoever?
(Mr McCoy) If the UK Registry disappeared, Chairman,
as I said in my opening statement, the business that we do is
so small, I have to be frank and say it would have very little
250. Why do we need to still have the UK
Register linked to British nationality? We are talking about wanting
a second register to get around in effect that position, but would
it not be much better if we simply had an open register?
(Mr McCoy) We are not arguing for a second registry.
What we are supporting, the Chamber's position, is that if there
is a better regime here for owning ships, whether it is on the
UK Registry or a second registry or however, we welcome that because
it would bring ships and companies to London who will do their
business with the Baltic Exchange, as Jim Buckley has explained,
and that is our driving force. I personally do not care where
the ships are as long as they do their business in London.
251. It seems to me that for a registry
the important thing now is standards and that as long as the registry,
as you are suggesting, imposes standards, then in an increasingly
international world does it matter if the nationality goes with
(Mr McCoy) It could be argued since there are
many fine registers in London, but the proposition I am putting
to you, Chairman, is that we want this business in London. I am
not being selfish about it; that is what we want. We want more
ships to do more business because we are in a very competitive
business and the experience of Singapore is that shadow across
London because they are going to take business from London eventually,
so we want tonnage here.
Mr Gray: One area
we have not really talked about particularly and it is possibly
quite important is tell me, to what degree would the Greeks or
other foreign nationals who are based in London, and they themselves
live in London and manage their ships from London, fix their ships
through the Baltic Exchange, to what degree do they believe themselves
to be part of British shipping, to use that expression, and in
what ways do they make contributions towards the national take,
if you like? What is their contribution towards British shipping
if indeed I am right in believing that Mr Goulandris believes
himself to be a member of the British shipping community?
252. That is a fairly subjective question,
Mr McCoy, but you may answer it in any way you like.
(Mr McCoy) I said in my opening comments that
the Greeks are estimated to own about 25 per cent of the world's
bulk carriers and tankers which is our main trade. They are, therefore,
by definition exceedingly important to the London market. I think
I said this earlier, that if the Greeks did not support the London
market, and there are many people trying to get their business,
it would decimate Maritime London as we know it at the Baltic
253. In a practical sense, what difference,
if any, would be made if, say, trade were to be skewed towards
the UK as far as, say, the business in Rotterdam transferring
to Hunterston? What difference would that make to you?
(Mr McCoy) It would make very little difference
because Baltic members fix Brazilian iron ore to Japanese steel
mills. The fact that those are big ports is not significant. We
are a cross-trading market, we fix Romanian ships to Americans
and we fix Kuwaiti tankers to South Africans, so it would not
have any great effect.
Chairman: Thank you
very much indeed, gentlemen. That has been helpful.