§ Mr. Trotter
asked the Minister for Trade whether he will make a statement following his meeting with the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers Association on 25 January.
§ Mr. Sproat
Following the Falklands conflict, I invited the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers Association, as well as the other seafaring unions and the General Council of British Shipping, to let me have their considered views on the lessons to be drawn from the Falklands campaign about the future of the Merchant Navy. The MNAOA sent me its views in writing, and I am grateful for these. I then invited it to meet me, and this meeting took place on 25 January.
I am now considering the union's proposals in the context of both of the defence lessons for the Merchant Navy to be learnt from the Falklands campaign, and of the worldwide recession in shipping which has greatly damaged all merchant fleets. Within the recession, the British merchant fleet is suffering additionally because of a loss of competitiveness compared with other merchant fleets.