The European Scrutiny Committee has raised concerns over the utility of theDraft Regulation about a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports. The aim of the proposal is to “improve the efficiency and competitiveness of all EU ports” as well as “to contribute towards their ability to cope with increased demand in the transport and logistics sector.” The Chairman of the UK Major Ports Group has also raise concerns over the proposal. Around 47 UK ports are likely to fall within the scope of the draft regulation.
The Government refused the European Scrutiny Committee request for the draft regulation be debated on the floor of the House and the debate in European Committee was adjourned. The European Scrutiny Committee is urging the Government for the issue be debated on the floor of the House, before the House rises on 12 September.
Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): I was concerned that my right hon. Friend did not reply to the shadow Leader of the House on the question of the ports services regulation. The reason I raise this is that there is a grave issue of European scrutiny at stake here. The position is that the ports services regulation is opposed by the trade unions as well as by all 47 port authorities. The matter was referred to the Floor of the House by my European Scrutiny Committee, but the Government declined that request and referred it to a European Standing Committee, which imploded yesterday because documents were not made available to the Committee, and the Chairman rightly adjourned the Committee as a result. That was extremely unusual—indeed, it was almost unprecedented. There are grave scrutiny concerns involved in all this. The real question, when it comes down to it, is this: we have called again today for a debate on the Floor of the House, but the Leader of the House’s statement has made it clear that the Government have not made such a debate available. Furthermore, because of the timetabling, the real question is going to be about 8 October. Finally, I would simply say: may we have a debate on the Floor of the House on this matter? How can this regulation be stopped? That is the crucial question.
Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is better able than any other hon. or right hon. Member to conduct a debate with himself, which he both opens and closes.
Mr Hague: That is undoubtedly true, and my hon. Friend always closes with a conclusion that is forceful and that we can always see coming. He raises an important issue, and I know that the debate in Committee was adjourned because a point of order was raised over whether the appropriate documents had been provided to its members. The report of the European Scrutiny Committee will be taken seriously by Ministers. My hon. Friend has pointed out that an important policy issue is involved, and I will ensure that my ministerial colleagues have their attention fully drawn to the point that he has raised.