Examination of Witnesses (580-596)|
18 JUNE 2003
JAMIESON MP, MR
Q580 Chairman: My understanding is
that the UK industry thinks that this directive will force British
ports into a continental model of landlordship.
Mr Reeves: It might have some
impact in that direction, but because of the durations we succeeded
in securing, we are talking about a change over a couple of generations.
I would only make the observation that if you look back at a similar
time in history, you see that the UK ports industry has changed
beyond all recognition in such a period of time. I would only
say that it will be something encompassed
Q581 Chairman: Forgive me, the reason
it has changed has not been because someone has directed it to
change. Your own government has supported the fact that all these
ports are private ports.
Mr Reeves: And the pace of change
in the UK industry, in so far as there is a restructuring towards
a landlord and tenant model, will largely be one not dictated
by us or Brussels but dictated by market forces. If that is the
way shippers and service providers want to go, if they want market
entry, if they see opportunities, they will seek to exploit them.
In so far as the UK industry continues to succeed in being competitive
and successful, then I do not think it has a great deal to fear.
Q582 Chairman: Have you done a survey
on the engagement of non-permanent employees in the ports industry?
Mr Burr: That is part of the study
we are doing on manpower.
Q583 Chairman: When can we expect
Mr Burr: We are in the process
of scoping how difficult the job is.
Q584 Chairman: What is the definition
of the verb "to scope" Mr Burr?
Mr Burr: I am sorry.
Q585 Chairman: You have used "scoping"
in the sense some of us would take to mean "retrench".
You now appear to be saying that "scoping" is looking
again at something you had previously decided. What is your definition
of "to scope", which is not a verb which was known to
me originally, but I learn a lot in this Committee?
Mr Burr: Rather than try to define
a word which does not exist, I shall use another one. We recognise
that this question is complex and we are in the process of appraising
how quickly we could get to the bottom of it.
Q586 Chairman: We recognise that
this question is complex and we are in the process of working
out how soon we can get to the bottom of it.
Mr Burr: As I explained, you might
take a port and say it is easy to count how many people work here.
Q587 Chairman: I might indeed.
Mr Burr: You go into the port
of Bristol, for example, where they have 300 tenants who are not
in the port business at all, they just happen to be using industrial
units on their land.
Q588 Chairman: And of course that
information would not be available through their landlords or
through anybody controlling the port. It would come as a complete
Mr Burr: They would not know how
many workers there were in those units; they would have no reason
Q589 Chairman: We do have things
like national insurance, we do have things like employer laws,
we do have one or two other things.
Mr Burr: But not accessible to
the harbour authority.
Q590 Chairman: So the harbour authority
has no way of finding out how many people are involved.
Mr Burr: It is a rather more difficult
Q591 Chairman: How soon before we
can expect this Delphic reply to be issuing from the department?
Mr Burr: We do not have a date
by which we will be able to tell you how many people there are
in the ports industry.
Q592 Chairman: I see. Well I do hope
Mr Jamieson manages to last out the length of time required.
Mr Jamieson: Who knows, I may
well and so might you.
Q593 Chairman: Perhaps we could re-instate
the oracle in Plymouth, do you think?
Mr Jamieson: Indeed.
Q594 Chairman: Frankly, Minister,
you are always very tolerant and you are very good about giving
us information, but I think we are very concerned about the fact
that the ports industry as a whole does require some clear indication
of government policy. I think this Committee wants to be sure
that you have, in the way you have estimated the development of
ports, in the way you have estimated capacity and use and in the
way that you intend to plan the connection between ports and the
infrastructure, be it roads or rail services, a very clear view
of where you want the ports industry in this country to go. When
can we expect such an adequate description?
Mr Jamieson: I am sure those are
matters which are going to be in your report, which we have long
Q595 Chairman: It is quite possible;
yes, it is quite possible.
Mr Jamieson: We will respond in
full to that report.
Q596 Chairman: I know you will, because
you do not have a lot of choice.
Mr Jamieson: No; indeed. That
is why I said we will respond in full to your report.
Chairman: Good. We shall then get the
opportunity to debate it. Mr Jamieson, as always, very entertaining,
occasionally informative. Thank you very much. The Committee is