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Port Regulation

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 4 December 2014

The Government recognised the detrimental effect that the proposed port services regulation in its original form would have had on the UK ports industry. At the Transport Council in October, we succeeded in our main negotiating aim of ensuring that the Council text was amended to protect our ports industry by limiting its application and by taking better account of the interests of already competitive ports such as ours.

What work has the Minister carried out with European partners through the process to ensure that trade union recognition and collective bargaining are explicitly protected, while still respecting the autonomy of social partners?

The hon. Lady may know that I am a trade unionist. My father was a shop steward, and my grandfather was chairman of his union branch.

I saw the light.

On the specific question the hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mrs Glindon) asks, I have had regular dialogue with unions to do just what she describes.

The Minister of State can deposit in the Library of the House a note on his family history, which I feel sure will be eagerly sought after.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In our thriving ports sector, everyone—businesses, unions, thousands of employees—are fearful of the regulation because it threatens competitiveness and workers’ rights and protections. Given that his Department was so badly mauled in the European Committee in September that the Minister had to abandon his motion, why are we still waiting for concrete results? Despite his pledges, the Government got no support for blocking port regulations in Europe in October. If the Government did such a good job in October, why has he failed to bring his motion back to the House, as he promised?

In the deal we got in October, we got our ports excluded from the majority of this unwelcome, unnecessary and undesirable regulation, and on other matters not included in that exemption we agreed that this House should make the decision. I call that achievement a victory, and the hon. Gentleman would be well advised to welcome it.