I reassure my noble friend that we are working closely with the Welsh Government on a cross-government basis to make sure all ports are as ready as they can be. I can also reassure him that from 1 January 2021, the UK will have autonomy to introduce its own approach to goods imported to GB from the EU. But, recognising the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, the checks will be introduced in three phases up to 1 July. So, we have the ability to be flexible and pragmatic, and that is the approach we will take.
My Lords, I note my maritime general interests. The UK has very good ports and excellent people who have worked hard throughout the pandemic, and particularly now, to resolve current difficulties, which are not unique to the United Kingdom. The solution to some of these rests within the industry and great efforts are being made, but the Government also have an important role to play. There is scope for easements and flexibilities that can assist with the movement of goods, vehicles and trains in and out of ports: are these being followed with the greatest diligence possible?
I too pay tribute to the enormous amount of hard work going on in our ports at the moment. According to the World Shipping Council, we are currently beyond anything anyone could have predicted regarding the global container system, which is running hot. Therefore, we are doing whatever we can to support the ports. I had a call with a huge number of freight representatives yesterday, and we talked about what the Government are able to do. We have made adjustments to drivers’ hours for road hauliers who have food or food in mixed loads on the road; and, of course, we are working closely with the rail freight industry.