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Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions her Department has had with (a) P & O and (b) Stena Line on the employment implications of a merger on the North Channel crossing from Loch Ryan ports to Northern Ireland. [115811]

In May 2003, P & O and Stena Line announced proposals affecting other Irish Sea ferry services but retaining separate services on their routes out of Loch Ryan to Lame and Belfast. Stena Line also announced at the same time that an earlier loch had been superseded by a proposal for joint operation of expanded port facilities at Cairnryan. My Department has not had any discussions with the companies.