§ Mr. Purchase
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish a consultation paper on the proposed European Directive on access to ports services; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hill
I have today launched a consultation paper on the recently published European Commission Communication on Ports, which included a Proposal for 817W a Directive on Access to Ports Services. The consultation seeks views on the Communication and, in particular, on the potential impact of the proposed Directive.
The consultation paper has been sent to some 300 people and organisations including ports, port users, port service providers, trade associations, trade unions and others with an interest in the ports industry. It is also available on the DETR website and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The deadline for responses is 30 June 2001.
The Commission's proposals raise a number of important issues including:Whether the proposed Directive helps to further the government's aims of a successful, sustainable and safe ports which benefits its customers and the wider UK economy;Whether the proposed directive would help to achieve the Commission's objectives in an appropriate and proportionate way;Whether the proposed directive takes sufficient account of the structure of the UK ports industry; andWhether the proposed Directive adequately addresses the issues of public funding and state aid.
Considerable clarification of the proposed Directive, and the intention behind specific requirements, will be needed before an accurate assessment can be made of the full potential impact on the port sector and its users.
The responses received as a result of this exercise will be used to inform a detailed Regulatory Impact Assessment on how the proposed Directive might affect the ports industry and to formulate the Government's response to the Commission on its Communication.