I am grateful to the maritime trade unions and the Chamber of Shipping for submitting joint maritime training proposals, and I am aware of the strength of feeling on this matter. However, the proposals would require significant additional investment at a time of increasing pressures on Government resources, which is why we need to consider all elements of the proposals very carefully.
I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, and I am aware that his Department has been carefully considering these proposals since it first received them from the unions in April 2007. He recently referred to them as being open-ended. I can tell him that the unions are happy to talk about limits to define these proposals, but they would need to have an answer from the Department first.
I appreciate that. Actually, the latest proposal was submitted on 30 March this year. I have had regular meetings with Nautilus International, the Chamber of Shipping and others concerning support for training and employment opportunities for seafarers. I want the UK’s position to continue to be strong. I also want to build on these opportunities, and I am currently considering how we can progress towards exactly the same goal that the hon. Gentleman clearly has, as do those in the industry.