To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he had with Hutchison Port Holdings prior to the award of funds to that company through the Port Infrastructure Fund on 15 December 2020.
11 January 2021
In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.
The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.
The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.
It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.
Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.