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Cross-channel Transport Links

Volume 601: debated on Thursday 29 October 2015

10. What steps his Department is taking to ensure that cross-channel transport links remain open. (901872)

Recent improvements to security measures include fencing, additional security guards, dogs, and improved CCTV and thermal imaging cameras. In addition to these measures, the French Government have committed very significant police resources to the Calais area.

On my summer business tour, I met lots of exporters in Redditch having terrible trouble getting their goods into Europe. Can my hon. Friend assure me and Redditch businesses that his Department is doing everything possible to ensure that my businesses prosper in the future?

The channel link is certainly vital to the whole UK economy, and particularly to the haulage industry. I was recently at Folkestone and saw some of the problems at first hand. In particular, there were issues with regard to just-in-time delivery of parts for the motor industry, steel rails produced in Scunthorpe that are exported to the continent, and lobsters produced in my constituency that travel in trucks across to customers in France and Spain.

This summer the M20 through my constituency was closed for 32 days. I am grateful for the attention that the ministerial team is giving to solving the problem. Will the Secretary of State update me on the progress being made to avoid a repeat of this summer’s closure next summer?

The key to preventing any recurrence of the problems we have had this summer is sorting out the issues in France. I am pleased to say that the MyFerryLink industrial dispute has been resolved, so we do not have that additional problem. The Government put in place a contingency plan at Manston, which would have relieved the problem further. It is certainly important to look at how to improve the situation when, for whatever reason, we have disruption on the channel.