Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (P 28B)


  The ETRAC Transport sub-committee raised concerns relating to the current coverage of port statistics compiled by the Department. This memorandum outlines the current situation regarding availability of statistical material and outlines what the Department plans to do in the near future.


  The main information on ports collected and analysed by the Department relates to the volume of cargo and passengers at UK ports. Traditionally this has been collected annually by means of a survey of port operators with detailed analyses published in the annual Maritime Statistics publication in October. Some information has also been made available relating to characteristics of ships using UK ports, based on data purchased from Lloyd's Maritime Information Services.

  From 1 January 2000 a new system for collecting port traffic statistics was introduced in order to meet the overall requirements of an EU Directive on maritime statistics[33]. The new system requires cargo and passenger statistics to be compiled for ports on a quarterly basis by route and additionally captures information which allows traffic statistics to be related to ship characteristics.


  The work on both the Modern Ports policy paper and Focus on Ports pointed to a number of areas in which the statistical information that is available is either ambiguous or incomplete. The relevant issues can be summarised as follows.

(i)  Employment

  No precise data exist on employment at ports. In theory the Labour Force Survey collects some information on occupations and industry worked in. However these use standard codes which do not have a one-to-one correspondence with port-related employment.

(ii)  Health and Safety

  There are no precise statistics available on accidents occurring at ports. The information collected by the HSE is based on a secondary analysis of reports classified under Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 63220 (Other Supporting Water Transport Activities). The denominator for calculating accident rates is also based on employment within SIC 63220.

(iii)  Infrastructure

(a)  Physical attributes

  Although industry publications provide information on the facilities available at some ports, it is difficult to extract this information meaningfully or consistently when comparing between ports.

(b)  Transport related

  No reliable or comprehensive statistics are available on the movement of goods to and from ports by mode of transport.

(iv)  Economic Data

  There are no readily available statistics on revenue and expenditure at ports although some partial information may be available in published company annual reports. Some information on capital expenditure on publicly owned ports is published in Table 1.16 of Transport Statistics Great Britain publication.

(v)  Transhipment at container ports

  The Department's port traffic statistics do not allow us to measure the level of transhipment at container ports.

  Data relating to (i) to (iii) were formerly collected by surveys conducted by the National Ports Council and then the British Ports Federation. These provided reasonably comprehensive data by port. Since then however, no systematic collection of information has taken place.


  The Department is considering the feasibility of initiating two separate data collection activities.

  The first relates to a survey of expenditure by ships calling at UK ports to be carried out jointly with the Office for National Statistics. This survey, which was carried out previously in 1996, aims to provide information on various types of port expenditure (eg pilotage, port dues, stevedoring etc) on a port by port basis according to vessel type. The intention is to conduct the survey from mid-2001 onwards.

  The second concerns a possible survey of port infrastructure, economic and employment data to port operators to be carried out by the Department along the lines of the former NPC and BPF surveys but updated to take account of changes that have occurred in the industry. Such a survey will also provide robust and comparable data that can be used for benchmarking ports. As a first step, the feasibility of undertaking such a survey will be discussed with the industry.

  In addition to these two proposed initiatives, the Department is committed to making best use of the additional cargo data that are now available following implementation of the EU Maritime Statistics Directive. For the first time detailed statistics will be available on cargo flows by route with the potential to link vessel characteristics to these movements. There are plans to discuss our dissemination proposals with both data providers and potential users of the information.


  The Committee also asked whether the Department will make Focus on Ports available on a website. The Department is discussing with the publishers of Focus on Ports, The Stationery Office, the mechanism for making the publication accessible via the Departmental website.

  It is intended that Focus on Ports will be a regular publication updated every three years or so.

Maritime Statistics Branch


March 2001

33   Council Directive 95/64/EC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea. Back

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