On 26 January (official report, col 26WS) I undertook to report back to the House after taking external advice on an appropriate figure for grant repayment by Liverpool City Council in order to assuage competition concerns sufficiently to withdraw the Department for Transport’s objection to turnaround cruise at the City of Liverpool cruise terminal.
The grant condition precluding turnaround had originally been set in 2007 in order to avoid unfair competition with other UK ports, which had invested in facilities without grant support. Liverpool City Council had requested that the condition be lifted and it was agreed that a proportion of the grant be repaid.
I have now received this advice and have decided to accept the recommended figure of £8.8 million as a lump-sum repayment, or a total of £12.6 million if phased over 15 years. In my view this represents a fair outcome that addresses competition concerns while enhancing the benefits to secure which the grants were initially paid.
Final removal of the grant condition by DCLG will be dependent on securing state aid clearance from the European Commission, which will now be sought. The department will assist in that process.