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Ferry Services: Scotland to Europe

Volume 700: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2021

1. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of creating direct ferry services from Scotland to mainland Europe. [R] (903220)

Let me start by saying that the Scottish athletes of Team GB have returned triumphant from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games with a record total of 14 medals, surpassing the 13 medals won by Scottish athletes at both the London and Rio Olympics. At the Paralympic games, the Scots of ParalympicsGB won an impressive 21 medals. I congratulate every athlete who competed. I also congratulate the Scottish football team on their victory in Vienna last night.

I regularly discuss a wide range of topics with Cabinet colleagues, including transport and the Union connectivity review. There are of course merits to any direct ferry services from Scotland. I understand that discussions for a new service to mainland Europe have been taking place for some time.

I endorse the comments of the Secretary of State on the Olympic and Paralympic teams, and the tartan army result last night; I am absolutely delighted with second place in the group at the moment, but let us go on to be first and get qualification.

The Secretary of State will be aware of recent dismal export figures in the wake of Brexit, the need to reduce lorry miles to help us get to net zero and the current HGV driver crisis that make up the hat-trick of events that would seem to make the need for a ferry service from Scotland to mainland Europe almost self-evident. However, there are barriers, including the commitment of Border Force to provide the resources and personnel to support that new route. Next week, we celebrate London International Shipping Week—

Order. I am sorry, but we have to get through the list of questions. The Secretary of State is going to have to answer the hon. Gentleman as best he can. [Interruption.]

I think the hon. Gentleman is requesting a meeting, and I would be happy to meet him. As he knows, the ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge ran from 2002 to 2018, but from 2010 was not a passenger service. We would want any service that comes forward to be economically viable.