Protect Port Business

 Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had on the proposed EU port services regulation

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had on the proposed EU port services regulation

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I represented the UK at Transport Council when this was discussed last October. I have also met the European Parliament rapporteur, the hon. Gentleman’s socialist colleague, Knut Fleckenstein. My most recent discussions were on Wednesday this week at the all-party maritime and ports group chaired by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick).

Stephen Kinnock: I thank the Minister for that answer. The previous shipping Minister indicated that the Government would be able to use domestic regulation to counter these regulations if they were passed in Europe, but the details of how it would be done remain unclear. Will the Minister reassure us that he has a clear plan of action to protect the UK’s interests and block any regulations that damage port business and threaten workers’ interests in my constituency?

Mr Goodwill: Our position is quite clear: competition between ports is the best way to ensure efficient operation within them. I am pleased that the general approach is better than the Commission’s original proposal. We have the competitive market exemption and more discretion on issues such as pilotage. I would certainly be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss particular issues affecting Port Talbot, which is one of our most important ports.