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Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many container ship routes in Britain operated by Railfreight use non-British ships and crews; and if he will make a statement on the usage of local labour on such routes.

Railfreight does not operate any ships. I understand that it buys container space from operators on three routes from United Kingdom ports, all using non-British vessels and crew. The routes are: Ellesmere Port to Belfast, Holyhead to Dublin, and Harwich to Zeebrugge. The choice of operators is a matter for British Rail's commercial judgment. Crewing decisions are matters for the operators, subject to any requirements of the flag state or restrictions in charter agreements.