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The Government’s drive to cut regulation is

having unexpected negative

consequences for the UK shipping industry

Mark Brownrigg, Director-General


ur industry welcomes and supports the UK Government’s overall commitment to deregulation, designed to reduce the burden

on business and help boost the UK’s competitiveness in the global market. Indeed, as a ‘Red Tape Challenge champion’ for the shipping industry on behalf of the Department of Transport, I am intimately aware of the potential benefits of the coalition’s strategy to free up business. However, good intentions alone aren’t

always enough. Ironically and paradoxically, this same red tape-shredding deregulation process – including the recent introduction of a one-in-two-out principle – is having a profoundly negative impact on parts of the UK shipping industry. Rather than liberating us from bureaucracy, the inflexibility of the process is delaying implementation of good regulation that the whole of the industry desires.

Challenge Despite continuing representation to Government from UK shipping employers and unions, the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) has still not been ratified by the UK Government and, although the convention comes into force in August this year, the UK is still months away from doing so. The main causes of this damaging delay are the internal processes



of impact assessments and scrutiny by the Government’s Reducing Regulation and the Regulatory Policy Committees. The MLC was adopted more than seven

years ago on a near-unanimous vote, with the support of both the UK Government and industry. Its purpose is to bring standards for mariners into line with those applicable to land-based work, while recognising the unique environment in which seafarers work. It is a consolidating instrument that updates and modernises employment legislation for all seafarers. The whole UK shipping industry fully supports and desires its urgent ratification – yet, perversely, the ‘better regulation’ process aimed at supporting business is holding it up.

Global industry The shipping industry operates in a global context – with national implementation and internationally enforceable regulation a prerequisite for ship operators. It is therefore crucial that the regulatory obstacles to the UK’s accession to this convention are speedily removed, to ensure that UK- registered ships can take full advantage of the flexibility permitted under the convention, and to avoid them being unduly targeted for port state inspections elsewhere in the world. In addition, for 12 months following ratification, the UK will also be unable to use its own port state control procedures


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