Robert Goodwill – 2015 Speech at British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, a Minister of State at the Department of Transport, to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association in the Strangers Dining Room of the Houses of Parliament on 16 December 2015.

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words this afternoon.

It’s good to be here.

I am very grateful to the BVRLA for organising the discussions which have culminated in this evening’s reception.

There really is no substitute for getting the experts around a table and thrashing out some good ideas.

And I must say that I am impressed that such a broad range of organisations including BT, Barclays, Diageo, John Lewis, KPMG, and Royal Mail have reached agreement on so many fundamental issues.

Of course, my job is to look at all the different ideas and attempt to plot the best possible course.

That means it’s rarely possible to please everyone.

But such a clear set of recommendations certainly helps.

Autonomous emergency braking

First, I was interested to see your strong support for autonomous emergency braking.

I agree that this technology has great potential for increasing road safety.

The good news is that progress is already happening.

The European Union has made autonomous emergency braking mandatory for heavy vehicles such as lorries.

And I have been encouraged by what has happened in the US where, in September, 10 of the top car manufacturers voluntarily agreed to install the braking technology in all future car models sold in America.

It’s a classic example of technology moving quicker than the need for regulation.

The market, helped along by demands from buyers, and perhaps some gentle encouragement from government, is getting us to near-universal adoption of autonomous emergency braking technology far quicker than we could draft, propose, debate and pass new laws.

I am also grateful for your recommendation that the government adopts a requirement that its own vehicles should have a 5-star rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme.

We are currently looking at this very question – of how to best include NCAP ratings into the official government buying standards and your recommendation is a very welcome contribution to that process.

Intelligent mobility

Turning to your recommendations about intelligent mobility, I agree that a common set of standards would be a huge help in the development of this new technology.

Not just for the industry and for consumers.

But also to give Britain the best chance of leading the field in new designs.

So we have asked the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – funded by the government to work with the British Standards Institute, the Intellectual Property Office and the Government Office for Science.

To map the existing standards landscape and identify what more should be done.

Air quality

Finally, I am really glad you picked up on the issue of air quality.

Poor air quality results in thousands of early deaths each year across the UK, and the main source of air pollution is road transport.

So there can hardly be a more important issue for the government or for industry.

I am pleased you have called for the continuation of the plug-in vehicle grants.

They have been a real success in moving the industry forwards.

But we need to do more, so we will shortly be publishing a new National Air Quality Plan.

It will show how the UK will meet European air quality standards in as short a time as possible.

Many of the points you have made will need to be taken account of in that plan.

Conclusion

But in the meantime, I agree that the government has an opportunity to lead the way in many of its purchasing decisions.

As you recognise in your recommendations, governments can make a difference not just through passing new laws or imposing new taxes, but by setting an example and raising awareness – whether of air quality or new car technology.

And as we look at how far the vehicle manufacturing industry has come in the last few decades, we must also recognise that pioneering fleet managers in the private sector have been great agents of change.

That you have got together with the BVRLA and made these recommendations shows that the spirit of enterprise and innovation is still strong.

So we will continue to reflect on your recommendations.

In some cases, we are already taking action, and I will be pleased to circulate your recommendations among my colleagues in government.

Thank you.

Robert Goodwill – 2014 Speech on HS2

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 28th April 2014.

This debate has highlighted, not only the need for HS2, but also the importance of getting it right.

This is a scheme that will play a vital role in creating the necessary conditions for economic growth.

But that doesn’t mean we should press ahead unchecked.

We must be clear about the impacts.

And we must act responsibly in addressing those impacts.

By providing appropriate mitigation for any adverse environmental consequences.

And fair compensation for those affected by the new railway.

Let me summarise how we are responding to these crucial issues.

Firstly, there is the question of cost.

Let me say that we have been clear about cost.

It is a considerable investment, but it is spread over 10 years.

Delivering benefits over decades.

Perhaps even centuries.

This is a project that will stand the test of time.

And it is not at the expense of other investment.

It is alongside high levels of investment in roads, in the existing rail network, and in local transport schemes.

This is one part of a rounded transport strategy.

It is, of course, incumbent on us to ensure this scheme sticks to its schedule and budget.

So that tax payers get value for money.

And they will.

To assist us, we have recently appointed leading experts Sir David Higgins and Simon Kirby to lead the delivery and construction of the scheme.

Following his recent review, Sir David Higgins confirmed that the scheme is on track for construction to begin in 2017.

Secondly, is the question of how we are addressing the impacts on the environment.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to construct a project like this without having some impacts on the environment.

However, since the very beginning, identifying those impacts and developing proposals for appropriate mitigation have been key priorities.

We have carried out environmental assessments.

And we have proposed mitigation measures.

We are committed to no net loss of biodiversity.

We are replacing habitats for wildlife.

We are generally tunnelling under, rather than travelling through, the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty.

We are integrating the railway in to the landscape, hiding much of it from view.

We are incorporating natural and man-made barriers to reduce noise and vibration.

And we have set binding commitments to control the impacts of construction.

On all this, we have consulted extensively. We have taken on board suggestions for improving the scheme.

And, prior to the Easter recess, the House has received an independent report, summarising consultation responses, to inform its decision tonight (28 April 2014).

Thirdly, let me turn to the measures to support those whose property may be affected.

People living near the proposed route are understandably worried.

They deserve generous assistance.

And they will receive it.

We have already helped over a hundred households under the current exceptional hardship scheme.

We have now launched an express purchase scheme for land safeguarded for Phase One – helping owner-occupiers sell quickly and with less fuss, regardless of whether their property is needed for HS2. They get the full unblighted open market value of their property, plus 10%, plus reasonable moving costs – including stamp duty.

Later this year we will launch an enhanced need to sell scheme to help owner-occupiers who need to sell their property, but cannot because of HS2 – there is no distance test to pass.

We will also launch a voluntary purchase scheme – giving owner-occupiers in rural areas up to 120 metres from the line the choice to sell their property and receive its full un-blighted market value. We will also consult on offering them a new choice of a cash alternative.

And we will consult on new home owner payments, for owner-occupiers in rural areas between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line, to help share more of the expected economic benefits of HS2 with rural homeowners –not just helping those who want to move, but also those who need to stay in their homes.

We appreciate that, for some, no amount of money or help will be enough.

And we don’t pretend that these proposals will satisfy everyone.

But we believe they are fair and represent the best possible balance between properly helping people and providing value for money for the tax payer.

Tonight the House faces a great decision, one of national importance that will profoundly affect the way our economy develops for generations.

The House must be satisfied of the need for HS2.

And it must be satisfied that the appropriate measures are in place to deliver this scheme in a sustainable way – both economically and environmentally.

HS2 will help drive this country forward.

It will create new capacity and enable better use of existing transport corridors.

It will join up our cities and strengthen our economy.

And as a result, it will help open up opportunities, currently held back by lack of investment.

And, along the way, it will be subject to careful, detailed scrutiny.

Tonight’s vote is an important step in taking HS2 forward.

And I urge Rt Hon and Hon members to support this bill for Phase One.

Robert Goodwill – 2014 Speech to British Parking Association

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to the British Parking Association Parking Summit on 27th February 2014.

Good morning, I am grateful to Helen for her thoughtful introduction to today’s (27 February 2014) discussion.

As any learner driver will tell you – parking is complex.

We ask parking and traffic management to deliver a number of objectives in parallel and managing those competing demands on our roads will never be simple.

Recognition for the sector

The UK has more motor vehicles per mile than France, Germany or even the densely populated Netherlands.

And traffic on our roads is forecast to increase.

That’s why we are investing £24 billion in the strategic road network in this Parliament and the next.

And by 2021 we will be spending £3 billion each year on improvements and maintenance.

This is the most significant upgrade of our roads ever.

And it is also why parking and traffic management has an absolutely vital role to play.

Effective management enables people, goods and services to get to where they are needed.

And it is essential for a growing economy.

Over the past few years we have seen great strides taken by the parking industry.

Innovations like the John Heasman Bursary have helped increase the evidence available to inform improved traffic management.

And at the same time the industry has become increasingly skilled and more professional.

Now more than 90% of local authorities have taken over the civil enforcement of their parking services.

This has improved compliance, reduced congestion, freed up the police and – most importantly – made our roads safer.

But where effective parking management breaks down – like in Aberystwyth as well as in my own constituency in Scarborough – it causes real problems.

So we can all learn and improve on what we do – including the government.

Sharing experiences, information and knowledge is essential.

That’s why I was very grateful the British Parking Association have organised today’s (27 February 2014) summit.

Consultation

The reason why we are all here today (27 February 2014) is the Transport Select Committee’s recent inquiry into local parking enforcement and the government’s recent wide-ranging parking consultation.

As you will expect, we have received a very large number of responses to the consultation.

Let me reassure you that, despite what some press reports claim, we have not already reached a decision.

I will be looking at all the responses to the consultation carefully.

We will not be taking any hasty decisions.

Because, what is very clear, is that parking matters to us all.

So – together – we need to get it right.

The Select Committee inquiry and our consultation have been prompted by three big issues for parking and traffic management.

The first, is the challenges facing our high streets.

The second, is the potential for the deployment and use of new technologies that can improve the use of our roads.

But recognition that, in some cases, these cause the public concern.

Finally, the third is the widespread belief among motorists that councils view parking enforcement primarily as an opportunity to raise revenue.

I’d like briefly to discuss each of these this morning to set out why they are important and I would like to hear all your thoughts on the possible next steps.

High streets

Our high streets are essential to our national life.

High streets bring people together and they’re at the heart of our daily life and economy.

For example, in London over half of the jobs in the capital are spread across just 600 high streets.

And two-thirds of Londoners live within a 5 minute walk of their local high street.

But our high streets have been in long-term decline.

Despite recent encouraging economic news, vacancy rates remain stubbornly high.

Almost 14% of shops were empty in December – that’s more than 50,000 stores.

And that’s prompted debate about what can be done to help high streets compete with out of town and online retail.

Ensuring convenient and safe parking is available at a reasonable cost is part of the answer.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the British Parking Association for the advice you have been providing to the Portas review pilot towns.

And, many areas, do need to improve.

During her review Mary Portas found that in many areas – to use her words – “parking has been run-down, in an inconvenient place, and most significantly really expensive.”

And the recent Association of Town and City Management and BPA survey found that some mid-range areas were charging 18% more for parking than larger and more popular retail locations.

So the question is, if you are a local business or resident, what more is needed to get your local council to improve parking provision in your local area?

In the consultation we suggested one way this could be achieved could be by allowing local residents and firms to be able to petition the council to initiate a review of parking policy in their area.

This might be a request to lower charges.

But it equally might be a review to see if additional spaces could be provided or for better street lighting to improve safety.

New technology

The second issue is the potential for new technologies to help manage our roads far more effectively.

The introduction of GPS-based systems, new sensor technologies and the increasing integration with smart-phones can revolutionise parking.

Better and more efficient parking services can be delivered in real-time, bringing benefits to high streets and road users throughout the UK.

However the capabilities of these new technologies also bring with them an increased responsibility to ensure that parking is enforced fairly and proportionately.

I firmly believe that most involved in the parking industry, from local authorities to private-sector service providers aim to do just that.

However, the use of CCTV, in particular, causes public concern.

The department’s guidance already states that CCTV cameras should only be used where parking enforcement is difficult or sensitive and enforcement by a civil enforcement officer is not practical.

Because cameras can be more contentious than boots on the ground.

The Select Committee found that residents’ permits and blue badges may not always be visible.

And the Select Committee also found that in some areas cameras are being used ‘as a matter of routine’ for on-street parking violations.

So our consultation asked what options there are to address these concerns and I’d like to hear your thoughts this morning.

Public concern

Finally, there is a real problem with the public’s view of local authorities’ approach to parking and traffic enforcement.

In the words of the Transport Select Committee, there is a “deeply rooted public perception that local authorities view parking enforcement as a cash cow”.

From 1997/98 to 2010/11, net surpluses from parking rose from £223 million to £512 million.

Net income from local authority parking services is expected to rise from £601 million in 2012/13 to £635 million in 2013/14 – an increase of 5.6%.

I know that headline figure reflects parking charges as well as penalties, but I am determined that public confidence in enforcement should not be undermined.

We have been very clear that the ring fence on surpluses will remain.

Fines for those who break the rules will only be used to improve the roads or environment for those that play by the rules.

But the Transport Select Committee also asked whether the current system is as fair as it could be for those who inadvertently make a mistake.

First, they asked whether the independent traffic adjudicators should be able to allow an appeal where they determine a Council has ignored statutory guidance.

Second, does the current system act as a disincentive for someone to appeal?

There is a legititmate concern that discounts on prompt payments following appeal would result in every charge being appealed.

So, following the Committee’s recommendation, we have asked whether the introduction of a 25% discount for motorists who pay within 7 days of losing an appeal would be worthwhile.

Third, the committee recommended that the statutory guidance should stipulate a grace period after the expiry of paid for time.

As the BPA’s response to the consultation states, in practice, most local authorities do this already.

So I would like your views as to whether mandating a grace period might reassure the public that they can expect a consistent approach no matter where they park?

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that the majority of local authorities and parking providers are doing excellent work.

You are providing well designed, fair and proportionate parking services.

The challenge now is to deliver equally high standards across the parking sector as a whole.

That means preventing examples of poor management or bad practice that are so prominent in the media.

I know many of you will have responded to the recent consultation.

I understand just how important these issues are.

So I will be listening carefully to the views generated by the consultation, as well as the outcome of today’s summit.

Because parking and traffic management is important.

It’s important to the public.

It’s important for our communities.

And it’s vital for the health of our economy.

Thank you for listening.

I look forward to our discussion.

Robert Goodwill – 2014 Speech on Road Investment

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Transport Minister, on 10th February 2014.

I’m delighted to have been invited to attend this morning’s workshop.

Ahead of last year’s Spending Review you challenged us to take bold steps to increase investment and make a long term commitment to capital infrastructure.

This morning has been about how we can best deliver the record investment in our road network that we announced last year.

I’d like to say a few words this morning about why we are investing in Britain’s roads, why, to be successful, we need to do things differently and why we want to work in partnership with you to make that happen.

I read an account of a parliamentary debate on the state of Britain’s roads recently.

It didn’t make for a comfortable bedtime story.

Honourable members were complaining to the minister that despite record increases in the traffic on the roads, investment simply hadn’t kept pace.

What was even worse was the government’s dire project management.

Stop-start spending meant works got off the ground but were endlessly delayed and then scaled back.

As projects stalled, costs increased and any improvements that did happen took years longer than projected.

One honourable member described the situation as “pathetic”.

Another was so irate that he proposed an amendment to the bill.

The amendment would give the transport minister automatic access to borrowing for road improvements – without needing Treasury approval.

The year was 1949.

And the debate was on the Special Roads Act that paved the way for Britain’s motorway network.

So while the motorways were eventually built over the next 50 years or so many fundamental problems have remained.

Today, the road network is even more essential to the UK’s economy.

Poor quality roads increase fuel consumption, increase delays, mean more emissions and act as a brake on growth.

But while over the last 50 years the volume of traffic in this country has risen dramatically, investment in the road network did not keep pace.

The UK now has more vehicles per kilometre of road than France, Germany or even the densely packed Netherlands.

Historically, road maintenance and repair have also been the first victims of short-term financial planning.

Investment in the road network has gone up and down faster than Bradley Wiggins through the Yorkshire Dales.

Short-termism that created uncertainty for the industry, delays to major projects and resulted in significant cost over runs.

To correct a legacy of historic underinvestment, we are putting record amounts into improving Britain’s transport network.

Modernising our roads, rail, air and local transport to help keep Britain moving.

In total, £24 billion will be invested in the strategic road network in this Parliament and the next and by 2021 we will be spending £3 billion each year on improvements and maintenance.

This is the most significant upgrade of our roads ever.

In total, creating around 30,000 new jobs.

Creating a safer, more sustainable, road network.

But it is not just about announcing the investment and identifying schemes that are needed.

As you have heard today (10 February 2014), we are determined to learn the lesson of history and change just how we deliver these improvements to our road network.

First, as John Dowie said, we are changing the way we fund road improvements and maintenance.

I know stop-start investment has been a problem for you in the past.

That’s why we have set out long-term, guaranteed plans to 2021.

The new road investment strategy will be backed by legislation that will oblige government to fund the schemes it has announced.

We are absolutely committed to putting the legislation in place before the end of this Parliament.

And we are equally committed to publishing the first roads investment strategy at the same time.

Many of you will know how certain investment in rail is thanks to the High level output specification.

By April 2015, road investment will be on the same long-term footing that will enable you – like the rail industry – to have the security to take commercial decisions today.

We are committed to making these changes now, locking in funding for the long-term, so you have the certainty you need to invest.

Second, as Graham Dalton covered, we are changing the way the Highways Agency operates.

Responses to the consultation on the changes we’ve proposed to the Highways Agency have been broadly positive.

But they have also raised a number of very important issues I want us to get right.

We’ll be publishing our formal response in the near future, but in the meantime the headline is; the Highways Agency will become even more commercially focussed

That means it will be a better partner for you to work with, be more accountable to road users and get better value for money for the taxpayer.

What we need to do now is get on and make a difference on the ground.

I was pleased to hear so many practical suggestions this morning’s (10 February 2014) breakout groups for how we can do things faster, cheaper and better.

We have set out long-term plans to give you the confidence you need to invest and grow today.

Otherwise, given the scale of the investment we are making, capacity is going to become a problem.

For example, opening a new aggregates quarry can take years of careful negotiation.

And it takes around three years to train an apprentice civil engineer.

So we need you to start to scale up over the coming months.

Invest in the equipment you need and create new jobs.

Or we risk the kind of bottlenecks that have in the past created delays and undermined public confidence.

That means taking on more apprentices and more graduates.

We also have to get the message out to young people taking their GCSEs and even younger that there are high quality jobs available in one of the world’s fastest moving, most dynamic industries.

I’d like to hear what your plans are to begin to scale up.

We will help unblock obstacles where we can and I want to help you bang the drum for new apprentices and graduates.

So, in conclusion, we are making a historic and sustained investment in Britain’s road infrastructure.

Because it is good for road users, good for the economy and good for the country.

We are also transforming the way that investment will be delivered.

Putting a full stop to stop-start.

We are investing for the long-term.

A commitment that will be backed up in legislation by next year.

We want to work in partnership with you to get the best value for money for the taxpayer.

That means, in return, we need you to invest today in ensuring you have the equipment and the staff with the skills needed, to keep Britain moving tomorrow.

Thank you.

Robert Goodwill – 2015 Speech on Air Travel and Alcohol

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on the Edgware Road in London on 23 November 2015.

Introduction

Thank you.

I would like to start by paying tribute to the response of the UK aviation industry to the tragic loss of 224 lives aboard the Russian Metrojet flight 9268.

In difficult circumstances, over 16,000 British travellers and their belongings were safely repatriated.

The government’s first priority is the safety and security of the British people, and so as in Sharm el-Sheikh we will act wherever we need to.

Last week, the Prime Minister announced a doubling of our spending on global aviation security.

We know that our airports will maintain their vigilance in the face of the continuing terrorist threat.

Airports Commission

Last time I spoke at an AOA gathering, it was the 30 of June; the eve of the publication of the final report of the Airports Commission.

In my speech that day I maintained a disciplined and principled silence over the contents of the report, despite pleas from some in the audience that I lift the veil of secrecy just a little.

But the truth was that there wasn’t much chance of a give-away, because I didn’t know what was in the report either.

And for the avoidance of doubt all I will say on the matter today (23 November 2015) is that the Airports Commission report is being very carefully considered by the government.

Disruptive behaviour on planes

So I won’t be drawn on the taboo of airport capacity this afternoon.

I will, however, address an altogether different taboo.

Not as high-profile.

But I believe a matter on which there is need for an open, public debate.

And that is the problem of passengers who become disruptive on flights, particularly after drinking alcohol.

Several airlines have recently written to government expressing their growing concern about the problem.

I am pleased to say that AOA and BATA have already shown leadership in their desire to bring the industry together to find new solutions.

But the growing concern in the industry — particularly among airlines — is understandable

Over the summer, one airline reported over 360 incidents.

The knock-on effects of flight disruption affect the whole industry, airports included.

And an aeroplane is a unique environment.

A confined space, filled with families and other travellers, and while in the air out of the reach of traditional law enforcement.

There’s little chance that a drunken passenger could pose a threat to the plane itself, but some have tried.

Last week, a passenger on a British Airways flight was reported as having attempted to force open an exit door while mid-Atlantic.

She was restrained and arrested on landing, but the incident caused distress to her fellow passengers.

And disruptive and even violent behaviour on planes doesn’t just put the air crew and passengers at risk.

It also puts the individual themselves at risk.

In the UK, arrested flyers are subject to UK legal processes and enjoy legal protections.

But flyers into some other countries could be subject to very different laws and far lower levels of legal protection.

Clearly, no one party — airlines, airports or government — can solve this problem alone.

Yet within our own sphere of responsibility we can each act to reduce the risks.

Airlines need to look at their approach to serving alcohol on board.

Jet2 have begun a campaign they call Onboard Together, which seeks to educate passengers and empower their crew.

The government must make sure that enforcement is effective.

And we know that for a proportion of passengers, their holiday begins in the airport bar, whether they arrive at the airport at 7 in the evening or 7 in the morning.

For some passengers, a delayed flight means that the first drink of the holiday quickly becomes the first 3, 4 or 5 drinks.

And in at least one airport today, passengers are able to pull their own pints at their table.

We don’t want to stop passengers enjoying themselves or prevent people from flying.

But we do want people to put a break on before things get out of hand.

Already, some airports are taking new steps.

Glasgow and Manchester Airports are trialling the sale of duty free alcohol in sealed bags.

And a couple of weeks ago I visited Edinburgh airport, where clear warnings about the risks of drunkenness are displayed on the airport’s bars and tables.

Edinburgh has formed a partnership with the airport police who now maintain a visual presence around bar areas and give potential troublemakers a gentle word of caution.

The police can be a great and willing help where a risk of drunkenness has been identified, and can work with airports to locate officers near boarding gates for flights that have proven problematic in the past, or for flights that have been delayed.

Clearly, different airports will prefer different approaches.

Often, working with airlines can be key.

Perhaps to identify the most trouble-prone flights.

Or even to identify passengers with a history of poor behaviour, as long as concerns about privacy and proportionality are addressed.

So I hope we can agree on the need to keep talking about this — to each other, and to passengers.

Our aim should be to ensure that flying is a safe and enjoyable experience for all travellers, and that flying doesn’t end badly for the careless few.

Success of airports

But I won’t end on a note of challenge.

Because the truth is that the aviation industry is overwhelmingly succeeding in delivering a brilliant service.

The proof is that there are now more people using your airports than ever before in history.

In the 12 month period to March 2015, passenger numbers at UK airports reached record levels.

And the signs are that the numbers are still growing.

You are also making a huge contribution to Britain’s record employment levels.

Around a quarter of a million people are directly employed in the aviation and aerospace industries, and many more are employed indirectly.

The future is looking bright, too, as we are seeing massive investment in airports across the country.

Bristol’s western terminal extension is under way and scheduled for completion by the summer.

Over the next 5 years, Luton will invest £100 million in its terminals.

Edinburgh will invest £125 million in its terminal, departure lounge, check-in and immigration facilities.

Heathrow is improving Terminals 3 and 4, and both Gatwick and Manchester Airport are each investing £1 billion in their terminals.

Conclusion

So I am grateful to everyone who works to keep our airports running and improving.

Through your enterprise, your commitment to customers, and the connections you give us to the rest of the world, you make an unparalleled contribution to Britain’s national prosperity.

You have this government’s support, and we look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Thank you.

Robert Goodwill – 2015 Speech at International Maritime Organization

robertgoodwill

Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at the 29th Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation on 23 November 2015.

Introduction

Mr President, Your Excellencies, Secretary-General, distinguished delegates.

On behalf of Her Majesty’s government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I welcome you to London for the 29th Assembly of the International Maritime Organization.

The United Kingdom is immensely honoured to host the IMO.

It’s a privilege we take very seriously.

So it’s a pleasure to address you this morning.

Condolences

Can I start though by offering my profound condolences to the distinguished delegation of France in light of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who were killed and injured.

And we stand shoulder to shoulder with France in the fight against those who wish to impose their barbaric values on the rest of the world.

Their actions only serve to make us stronger.

Maritime industry

The maritime industry has always had global reach.

In fact it gave birth to the global economy.

Currently over 80% of global trade is moved by ship.

And by 2030, sea trade is predicted to double.

So we’re facing great opportunities, but also great challenges.

By bringing the international maritime industry together, the IMO will help us take advantage of those opportunities, while also helping us meet those challenges.

And that’s something we are focused on today (23 November 2015), as we look forward to the new biennium, but also as we reflect on the achievements of the past 2 years.

Highlights of past biennium

So, what achievements stand out?

Firstly, I congratulate the IMO on the adoption of the ‘Polar code’.

It will not only improve safety, but also help protect the environment of both polar regions.

It showed the organization responding in a timely manner to emerging opportunities for shipping in these regions.

The United Kingdom was pleased to contribute, just as we were pleased to chair the intercessional working group which finalised the amendments toMARPOL ahead of the code’s launch.

Another noteworthy achievement was the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks.

We are very grateful for this important convention, which clarifies responsibilities around the reporting, locating and removal of wrecks.

Since February, my officials have issued over 11,000 wreck certificates — of which only 800 were for UK registered ships.

The growth of the World Maritime University has been another highlight.

And the United Kingdom was delighted to attend the inauguration of the new premises in Malmö earlier this year.

We continue to provide visiting professorships at the World Maritime University.

To contribute to the education of the next generation of maritime experts.

I think we can all agree that for our industry to thrive we must have a good source of suitably qualified personnel.

So it was fitting that this year’s theme for World Maritime Day was maritime education and training.

And finally I’d like to mention the recent adoption of the ‘IGF code’ which will provide a sound regulatory framework so we can use emerging, cleaner fuel technologies safely and effectively.

Of course these — and many other IMO successes — came under the leadership of Mr Sekimizu (Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization).

But the move to a new biennium marks the end of Mr Sekimizu’s time at the organization.

I’m sure you will all have plenty of opportunity to thank him during this assembly.

But I would like to offer my personal thanks and appreciation for his huge contribution to the IMO — and wish him well in his retirement.

Migrants

As we look to the future, it’s vital that we act together.

That’s what the IMO is all about.

Partnership and co-operation.

Mass migration by sea, in particular the current crisis in the Mediterranean, is something the international community must tackle.

We must redouble efforts to end the loss of migrants’ lives at sea.

But we must also keep working with the countries of origin and transit so they’re better placed to deal with the problem at source.

We welcome the UN Security Council’s adoption, in October this year, of resolution 2240 to deter the smuggling of migrants.

Multi-agency collaboration is key — as demonstrated by the Rescue at Sea guide produced by Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, IMO, and United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees.

The UK is providing humanitarian assistance to help as many refugees as possible in the region.

And we continue to support joint efforts under Frontex Operation Triton — the border security operation conducted by Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency.

We would also like to thank our Mediterranean colleagues, particularly Italy, Greece and Malta, for their dedication in responding to the crisis, and also the hugely valuable contribution of merchant shipping.

Future challenges

As we look forward to the next biennium and beyond there are further challenges and opportunities facing the organization.

Boosting world trade is essential to raise standards of living everywhere.

And while we recognise the importance of the technical work of the IMO, we must not forget our obligation within the convention to remove unnecessary restrictions on global shipping.

I believe that the International Maritime Organization is the right body to regulate the world’s maritime industries.

With this in mind, I welcome the organization’s work on the review of administrative requirements.

The consultation showed the desire of the IMO to be open and outward-looking.

It is only when we hear the views of all stakeholders that we are in a position to make sound and informed decisions.

The review has come up with a number of recommendations, some of them challenging.

But the IMO can rise to the challenges it has set itself in the coming biennium, and beyond, to ensure regulations are effective and fit for purpose.

It is essential that government and the industry work together to design proportionate regulation that maintains competition, that protects the marine environment from pollution, and that keeps shipping safe and secure.

Any regulation must reflect the international nature of the maritime sector.

Radically different rules for different parts of the world seldom make sense.

Most of the time they’re inefficient and expensive and they can lead to perverse incentives.

We are also encouraged by the progress made in the council reviewing the current strategic framework and establishing a new strategic plan.

The UK believes that the new framework should be clear and straightforward, and lead the IMO toward future biennia.

We will continue to take a leading role in this work.

In particular, helping ensure that right tools are applied to evaluate the potential impacts of new regulations.

Our shared commitment must be to create a level and competitive playing field, promoting clear regulations, and removing regional obstacles to fair trade.

Fair and effective enforcement is key.

Another significant step for the organization is the beginning of the Mandatory Member State Audit Scheme next year, which again demonstrates the organization’s wider vision beyond its immediate sphere of influence.

We are all aware of the very important meeting of COP 21 which begins next week.

The IMO has already made great progress on climate change through its energy efficiency design index and the ship energy efficiency management plan.

And then there is the IMO’s work on developing a global data collection system which will inform future technical and operational measures for shipping.

The IMO is the organisation which can address the climate change impacts of international shipping, working in partnership with other members of the United Nations family, but retaining its responsibility for maritime transport.

The anticipated growth of world trade will increase shipping activity.

And we also expect to see further modal shift towards shipping.

We strongly support the work of the IMO to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency in the world fleet, thereby reducing the climate change impact of every tonne of cargo carried on every voyage by every individual ship.

Before I finish, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who make the IMO a success and uphold its positive status within the United Nations.

These include the chairmen of the Committees & Sub-Committees, the Secretariat and Interpreters and of course you, the many officials who attend IMO with their delegations.

Without you, the IMO would not have the reputation it enjoys.

Mr President, Mr Secretary-General.

I would also like to thank you for inviting me to address this esteemed audience today.

And on behalf of Her Majesty’s government I wish you all a productive and enjoyable stay in London.

Finally, I would like to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s commitment to both the work of the IMO and our honoured role as host government.

We will — of course — continue to contribute to the critical work of the organization over the next biennium.

And I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the UK’s reception on the evening of December 1st.

Thank you.