Scottish Transport Minister thanks maritime industry for “enormous contribution”

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A great turnout of MSPs and industry colleagues gathered in Holyrood on Wednesday evening for the annual UK Chamber and British Ports Association Scottish maritime reception.

Liam McArthur MSP sponsored the evening, and guests were welcomed by Sandra Laurenson, Chairman of the BPA Scottish Ports Committee, and UK Chamber President Kenneth MacLeod, before Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP gave a speech.

Keith Brown thanked the maritime sector for the enormous contribution it makes to the Scottish economy – an Oxford Economics report for Maritime UK unveiled at the event showed that the sector supports over 75,200 jobs, contributes £3.8 billion to the country’s economy and generates tax revenues of £1.2 billion.

The Minister also reiterated the Scottish government’s commitment to working with industry towards its continued success, and stated that a main focus will be to try and remedy the "extreme lack of investment" in maritime over the decades.

He highlighted the issue of new, disruptive passport controls on visiting cruise passengers and assured the Scottish government’s support of the industry campaign for a return to previous practice, citing the country’s scope and appetite to expand cruise capabilities, not infringe on them.

UK Chamber President Kenneth MacLeod said at the event:

“The importance of maritime to the UK extends far beyond London. In fact, around 1 in every 4 people directly employed by the maritime services sector in the UK were based in Scotland in 2011.

“The UK Chamber takes Scotland very seriously and shipping companies comprise the core of the maritime sector here – from shipowners and managers in Glasgow, ferry operators on the West Coast and in the Western and Northern Isles, to North Sea offshore businesses in Aberdeen.”

Echoing the Minister’s concerns over new passport controls on visiting cruise passengers, Kenneth MacLeod said:

“With each cruise ship call in Scotland worth £165,000 for the local economy, this is trade worth protecting.”

Next year’s independence referendum was mentioned by all the speakers with Kenneth MacLeod outlining some of the issues identified by UK Chamber consultations:

“The potential impact on all elements of shipping operations is considerable. From corporation tax to seafarer training; ship registry to marine safety infrastructure; shipping policy to border controls between Scotland and the UK.”

The Minister assured guests that industry input was being considered and had fed in to the forthcoming White Paper on independence.