The strength of our shipping industry

John Hayes MP
John Hayes MP
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Hayes in the House by local MP John Hayes

South Holland and our county as a whole boasts many of the nation’s finest churches. Indeed in the words of Simon Jenkins, author of England’s Thousand Best Churches, “Lincolnshire churches cannot be bettered”. Their grandeur is a reflection of the wealthy era in which they were built; in medieval times Lincolnshire was the centre of the wool trade, with goods exported from Boston to Europe, cementing England’s position as a nautical powerhouse.

Although the whole of my adult life has been spent here in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, I was born just a stone’s throw from the historic dockyard in Woolwich; my maternal grandfather was a lighterman on the Thames, and I spent my early life closely connected to Britain’s vast maritime heritage. As I looked out across the murky river from the Woolwich Ferry, I often saw London’s bustling docks and remember watching the myriad of ships coming in and departing laden with British goods bound for all the corners of the globe. Anyone observing this couldn’t fail to appreciate just how important maritime trade has always been to the health of Britain’s economy.

Now, as a Minister, I lead for the Government on ports and shipping and so last week I visited the Port of Felixstowe, and just before that Dover’s port.

Today, British mercantile trade is flourishing – the maritime sector generates a whopping £8 billion for the economy every year, and UK owned fleets are three times larger than they were in 2000. The UK’s shipping industry is stronger than it has been for decades, with the amount of freight moving through London on the Thames trebling in the last four years.

For essential raw materials delivered to our factories and for our world beating farms and firms to export, we depend on the excellence of our docks, the quality of ourshipping and the talents of the seafarers who support them. This means the UK’s shipping industry must able to compete on a global level playing field; which in turn means promoting fair competition and throwing overboard unnecessary red tape, including any bilge spewed out from the EU’s Brussels bureaucrats.

Our area too has much nautical heritage; here in South Holland we have the docks at Sutton Bridge, a 62-acre dry cargo port which has grown since being rejuvenated in 1987.

A gateway to Lincolnshire, Sutton Bridge serves as an important entry point to our locale and just a short way around the coast of The Wash is Burnham Thorpe, the 
birthplace of our Kingdom’s greatest naval hero, Horatio Nelson.

The maritime future of our island nation can and must be just as glorious as our maritime past.

I’m sure my ancestors would be proud of that, and doubtless Lord Nelson would be too.