8th January 2019

Sir Nicholas’s Question to the Secretary of State for Transport on the contract for Seaborne Freight’s proposal to open a service from Ostend to Ramsgate. 

My right hon. Friend will be aware that Seaborne Freight has had it in mind for well over two years to start the Ostend-Ramsgate route. Does he agree that the constant denigration of the contract, which means that the contractor will not get a single penny of anyone’s money until it fulfils the contract, is damaging to sensible work? Finally, if we were—God forbid—to crash out on WTO terms in the extreme circumstances mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), will the Secretary of State tell the House whether he would have any arrangements to take up shipping from trade?

My right hon. Friend makes a good point. There seems to be visceral hatred of small business on the other side of the House and a visceral belief that the Government should not be willing to contract with small business. The Government are told time and again that we should contract and work with small business, and help small businesses to develop, but when we do so, we get nothing but a wall of criticism from Opposition Members. The Labour party hates business. This new Labour party is very different from the one of 10 years ago—it simply hates business.

I say to my right hon. Friend that if we find ourselves in a no-deal situation, there are other measures that we can bring forward. We are actively looking at how we would do so.

Vol. 652
No. 229
Col. 193