Ferry Crossings

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons on 13th May 2020.

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Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of James Davies James Davies Conservative, Vale of Clwyd

What steps the Government is taking to support the continuation of ferry crossings between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The Government have, together with the Northern Ireland Executive, made available a financial package of up to £17 million to keep critical freight routes open between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This reflects the huge importance of these connections and ensures essential goods, such as food and medicines, will continue to flow.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

The Belfast-Liverpool ferry is vital to businesses in Wrexham. Does my hon. Friend agree that free-flowing trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is of great benefit to the Union, which is why the Government’s success in keeping Northern Ireland part of the UK customs union is beneficial to us all?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I totally agree with my hon. Friend. This package helps ensure that we keep freight capacity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The funding will help to maintain the flow of critical goods across the Irish Sea and throughout the Union. And yes this underlines the importance of keeping Northern Ireland part of the UK customs union, so that goods needed in Northern Ireland and Great Britain can continue to flow freely.

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

The Government have acted swiftly to protect ferry services between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and I welcome the measures they have put in place. Many businesses here on Ynys Môn rely on goods coming to and from Northern Ireland and Liverpool. Will he continue to monitor the wider economic impact of services on north Wales, given its close proximity to Liverpool?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Each route is integral to the supply of critical goods within the United Kingdom. Public service obligations are an established mechanism for supporting routes and are being used here to temporarily support routes affected by covid-19. The Government continue to engage closely with operators and ports on the Irish sea and we will continue to listen and take appropriate steps at the right time to protect critical supply routes, wherever they are.

Photo of James Davies James Davies Conservative, Vale of Clwyd

Can the Minister confirm that keeping these ferry routes open is sustaining the supply chain of food and medical supplies that are so vitally needed on both sides of the crossing, including in the Vale of Clwyd?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Absolutely, yes, and I think the exchange of PPE that was referred to in earlier answers to questions is a good example of that, where both GB has benefited from those connections to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland has benefited from those connections to Great Britain.