I am delighted to announce the publication of Lord Mountevans’ Maritime Growth Study, on the first day (7 September 2015) of London International Shipping Week 2015.
It’s fitting that we are meeting in the Brunel and Smeaton rooms.
John Smeaton and Isambard Kingdom Brunel are giants of Britain’s maritime past.
Together responsible for the design of many ships, lighthouses and harbours.
A towering legacy.
Yet if we learn anything from them, it’s not just the need to remember past maritime successes.
But the need to focus on the future.
And that is why we commissioned the Maritime Growth Study.
The first study of its kind for more than 15 years.
A complete review of the strength of the UK’s maritime industries
An analysis of how well we fare against our competitors, and how we should aim to contribute to the growth in world sea trade.
The world has changed significantly since the last time the government undertook a review of this kind.
Manufacturing has gone east.
Ships grow ever larger.
Aviation plays a bigger role in moving goods.
But one thing will never change.
And that’s the vital importance of the UK’s maritime industry.
Directly, it adds at least £11 billion a year to the UK economy.
And indirectly, it supports every type of commerce, every job, every business in these islands.
But that doesn’t mean we aren’t facing competition from overseas.
Other maritime centres in Europe and the far east are experiencing rapid growth, and seeking to replicate our success.
This report makes some important recommendations as to how we can keep ahead.
To strengthen leadership by the government and in the industry.
To improve promotion.
And support the workforce.
The government will consider these recommendations carefully.
Where we need to take action, we will.
And I can already announce some changes we’ll be making in response to the study.
First, the Secretary of State for Transport will convene and chair a Ministerial Working Group for Maritime Growth.
The working group will increase UK exports and productivity through better collaboration with our maritime industries.
Second, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will give more independence to the UK Ship Register, allowing it greater commercial flexibility.
This will include the appointment of a new director to lead the register and deliver improvements in service.
And third, we will also look at the case for reforms to the MCA itself, so it can better compete with other successful international ship registers.
That’s some of what the government will be doing.
But the report also makes recommendations to the industry.
Such as the need to establish a single, industry-wide promotional body to work with government; not only to raise its domestic profile, but to market the UK abroad as the place for maritime business.
So in conclusion, I am immensely grateful to Lord Mountevans for his chairmanship of the project.
Jeffrey’s leadership and experience has made a compelling case for the future of the UK maritime industry.
I now invite Lord Mountevans to say a few words himself.