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House of Commons Hansard
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13 May 2020
Volume 676
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What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak. [902571]

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What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak. [902575]

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What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak. [902583]

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The Government have, together with the Northern Ireland Executive, made available a financial package of up to £17 million to keep critical freight routes open between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This reflects the huge importance of these connections and ensures essential goods, such as food and medicines, will continue to flow.

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The Belfast-Liverpool ferry is vital to businesses in Wrexham. Does my hon. Friend agree that free-flowing trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is of great benefit to the Union, which is why the Government’s success in keeping Northern Ireland part of the UK customs union is beneficial to us all?

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I totally agree with my hon. Friend. This package helps ensure that we keep freight capacity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The funding will help to maintain the flow of critical goods across the Irish Sea and throughout the Union. And yes this underlines the importance of keeping Northern Ireland part of the UK customs union, so that goods needed in Northern Ireland and Great Britain can continue to flow freely.

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The Government have acted swiftly to protect ferry services between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and I welcome the measures they have put in place. Many businesses here on Ynys Môn rely on goods coming to and from Northern Ireland and Liverpool. Will he continue to monitor the wider economic impact of services on north Wales, given its close proximity to Liverpool?

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Each route is integral to the supply of critical goods within the United Kingdom. Public service obligations are an established mechanism for supporting routes and are being used here to temporarily support routes affected by covid-19. The Government continue to engage closely with operators and ports on the Irish sea and we will continue to listen and take appropriate steps at the right time to protect critical supply routes, wherever they are.

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Can the Minister confirm that keeping these ferry routes open is sustaining the supply chain of food and medical supplies that are so vitally needed on both sides of the crossing, including in the Vale of Clwyd?

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Absolutely, yes, and I think the exchange of PPE that was referred to in earlier answers to questions is a good example of that, where both GB has benefited from those connections to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland has benefited from those connections to Great Britain.