Wednesday, September 9, 2020

All Change at the UK as Minister Representing Shipping Moves On

Standard Set High for New Man
Shipping News Feature

UK – Many will be surprised at the latest cabinet change with Kelly Tolhurst MP being moved from the position she has only held since February, to become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The post she has vacated, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, earned her the almost universally quoted title of 'Shipping Minister'.

Many in the maritime community will be sad to see her depart, obviously one of the Prime Minister’s fast track favourites having previously held the equivalent role at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, again for just seven months. Her replacement at shipping is a transferee from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, barrister Robert Courts MP, who does have some relevant experience, serving on the Transport Parliamentary Select Committee for a year, whilst also being a member of the Marine Conservation Society.

The transport brief does not however only include shipping, although Tolhurst has been active in that area, it covers aviation, transport security and a variety of associated matters. Still her work with the maritime community followed on from the much praised previous incumbent, Nusrat Ghani MP who, despite leaving the role months earlier, was vociferous in calling for help in Parliament for seafarers’ stranded by the coronavirus restrictions, just a couple of months ago.

Despite regrets at losing Tolhurst, shipping interests were keen to welcome the new minister with Ben Murray, Director of Maritime UK looking for the new man to secure support from the Chancellor to back the drive for the country to kick-start a world-leading maritime decarbonisation programme. He continued:

”He enters the £42 billion sector as we are on the cusp of one of the most exciting times in the history of UK maritime. With the sector having been in the spotlight thanks to its work in keeping the country supplied with food, energy, and medicine through Covid-19, we now turn our attention to green recovery.

”In the run-up to the Autumn Spending Review, he has the chance to help secure the £1 billion investment we need from the Chancellor to turbocharge the move towards net-zero in the UK. Investment is needed now to innovate the new green ways of moving vessels to meet our net-zero obligations.”

Another major stakeholder in the sector is the UK Chamber of Shipping, whose Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti pointed out the standards Mr Courts will need to reach to satisfy the industry, saying:

“I would like to place on record my thanks to Kelly Tolhurst for her dedication as Shipping Minister. She worked incredibly closely with the industry during Covid-19 and ensured freight could continue to flow into the country, and understood the plight of seafarers, helping convene an international summit on crew change.

“I wish her the very best for her new role and I look forward to working with Robert Courts as we look to take advantage of future opportunities for the UK shipping industry including tackling climate change and the Covid-19 recovery.”