Examination of Witnesses (Questions 627
WEDNESDAY 28 MARCH 2001
627. Gentlemen, thank you for coming this afternoon.
Would you be kind enough to identify yourselves?
(Mr Davey) Paul Davey, the corporate affairs manager
for Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited.
(Mr Gray) Chris Gray, chief executive, Hutchison Ports
(Mr Mordaunt) Terence Mordaunt, chairman, Bristol
(Mr Jones) Peter Jones, chief executive, Mersey Docks
and Harbour Company.
(Mr Don) Alec Don, director of planning, Mersey Docks
and Harbour Company.
628. Thank you. May I ask each one of you what
role do you play in the economy, particularly in the area local
to your ports? How much traffic do you deal with and how many
staff do you employ?
(Mr Gray) At the port of Felixstowe, which is the
United Kingdom's largest container port, we probably handle about
40 per cent of the United Kingdom's container traffic. We employ
2,650 people directly and we have a wage bill of around £60
million per annum, most of which goes into the local economy.
(Mr Mordaunt) We move ten million tonnes of cargo
a year. We employ 523 people. There are another 5,000 people who
are directly there as a result of the port being there.
629. Do you have any idea of the size of the
(Mr Mordaunt) Our payroll on an annual basis is about
15 million a year.
630. Is that doubled by the extra people outside?
(Mr Mordaunt) Much more than doubled. There are ten
outside to one inside.
(Mr Jones) We own ports both on the Mersey and on
the Medway, the ports of Sheerness and Chatham on the Medway as
well as Liverpool and Birkenhead on the Mersey. Group wide we
employ about 1,500 people. In total, the throughput of the Mersey
ports is around 30 million tonnes and a little over three million
tonnes at the Medway ports. The payroll group wide would be about
631. To what extent does the demand for port
services exceed supply in this country?
(Mr Mordaunt) I do not believe it does exceed supply.
It is a very competitive market. Most of us could do more if we
had to, but that is speaking generally. There are specific areas,
like containers, where there is a shortage, or there will be a
632. Tell us about that. Is it just containers
or is it particular geographical areas?
(Mr Mordaunt) It is more appropriate for Mr Gray to
talk about containers than me but certainly we have expanded very
fast in the south west and we have expanded because we are very
near the centre of the country. I would say this is environmentally
very good for the country in that it brings the ships which are
environmentally better closer to the centre and therefore less
road and rail distance.
(Mr Gray) In terms of container capacity, within the
next two to three years, we will have run out of capacity. At
the last hearing when I gave evidence to you, I did stress the
need for deep water berths at United Kingdom ports. Ships are
getting bigger. There is going to be a requirement for ports to
provide berths with a much deeper draft than they have at the
moment, especially if we are going to compete with the north European
633. How many deep water ports are we talking
(Mr Gray) In the United KingdomI am talking
container portsSouthampton and Felixstowe have the ability
to take the larger ships. We just completed a dredge in the Medway
which can also enable ports in the Medway to take larger vessels.
634. Which of these ports are going to be under
(Mr Gray) We are already under pressure. Felixstowe
is under pressure today and this is why we have the expansion
635. Is that also true for the other container
(Mr Gray) Yes.
636. What timescale are we talking about?
(Mr Gray) By the time we have completed the consents
process and we have hopefully obtained permission, we are looking
at at least three years, even if we go on our normal time frame
as we forecast today, before we will be able to have a new berth
at Felixstowe up and running.
637. How does your efficiency compare to other
people around the world?
(Mr Gray) Compared to Europe, we are as efficient
as any port in Europe.
638. What about the rest of the world?
(Mr Gray) Some of the Asian ports, particularly the
sister port in Hong Kong, are more efficient than we are.
(Mr Gray) Possibly the type of operation, the intensity
of the operation. There are many factors. It is about equipment;
it is about people; it is about the type of traffic they handle.