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Maritime Sector Jobs

Volume 678: debated on Thursday 2 July 2020

My officials and I engage extensively with the maritime sector on the support that it needs, including unprecedented financial assistance.

P&O Ferries, which is owned by the Government of Dubai, has pocketed millions from the British taxpayer during the covid crisis. It is now intending to make British seafarers redundant and replace them with low-paid, badly treated Filipino crews, because it says that the routes are not viable when using British seafarers. The Secretary of State told the Transport Committee that there is nothing he can do because his hands are tied by international agreement. It is not good enough. Will the Minister commit to levelling up employment conditions to prevent the likes of P&O from destroying seafarer jobs, and to unleash the potential of this brilliant maritime city of Hull?

I note the hon. Gentleman’s particular interest in this policy area. We have had many discussions on this issue and he knows that I am committed to doing what I can as the Minister responsible for maritime to increase the ability of UK seafarers to work on our routes. We have supported the ferry sector with a with a freight support package to protect what we needed within the UK, but the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: we want to make sure that we are able to create an environment in which we can increase the number of seafarers operating around our coastal shores.