London: The UK’s Conservative Party, led by prime minister David Cameron, are today celebrating a second term in government, which means shipping minister John Hayes will stay in office until further notice.
Hayes has held the position since July 2014, and is the UK’s third shipping minister since 2010.
The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomed the majority result today, adding that UK maritime business needs the Government to be “ambitious for the industry”.
“A majority government fundamentally means stability – and stability is exactly what the shipping industry, which inherently takes a long-term view of business, needs,” Jonathan Roberts from the UK Chamber of Shipping told Splash today.
“It also gives us ongoing certainty, that the progress made in recent years on the economy, tax regime and investment in skills and training will continue.”
The election result could put the UK’s EU membership in doubt, which could have a knock-on effect on maritime industry, the UK Chamber said today.
“A referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is now certain,” Roberts told Splash. “There is a long way to go, but the shipping industry will need to play a key role in supporting the Government with its renegotiation process. The industry needs to unite to explain what is good about the EU and what is bad.
“Shipping is about moving world trade, and any system that removes barriers to trade is a good thing. But there is no doubt the EU has become bloated and is too quick to produce unnecessary regulation while ignoring the views of industry. The EU needs to change if the UK is to remain in it.”
The Conservatives’ win will enable the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to continue its ‘Maritime Growth Study’, a full-scale review of the UK’s shipping industry and what can be done to make it more competitive with other countries.
“When that study is completed, we need its findings to be implemented quickly. Particularly, we need to see the MCA become much more responsive, commercially minded and customer-focused,” Roberts said of the work still to be done.
The number of UK-registered ships is currently at its lowest level since 2006, according UK Department of Transport (DfT) figures. UK-flagged deadweight tonnage has decreased by 27% since 2009 to 12.6m dwt today.
Annually, the shipping industry contributes £31.7bn to UK GDP, supports 537,500 jobs and provides £8.5bn in tax receipts to the UK exchequer, according to figures from the UK Chamber of Shipping.