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How can a tiny country like Holland have a commercial shipbuilding industry building tugs yet we don’t? How come France, Germany and Italy have commercial shipbuilding industries building cruise ships but we don’t? It’s almost as if this has been to us done on purpose…………..


No we did it to ourselves. British shipbuilding is not competitive.
Have to get our costs down.


European shipyards can’t compete on their own against South Korean or Japanese competitors anymore than ours can. The difference is their governments are supportive in providing subsidies and other incentives like tax breaks. They do this not to prop up failing industries but because they recognise the value of retaining high value skills and that ultimately domestic orders recycle a lot of money back in the economy whereas seemingly cheaper foreign orders see virtually every penny leave the country.


To have a thriving shipbuilding industry that can compete worldwide will require massive taxpayer subsidies. The government is reluctant to do that.


In France they pay no business rates and there electricity is charged at cost.


When the new ships yards in Korea and Japan started to build tankers and bulk cargo ships instead of UK yards diversifying into more technical ships such as tugs, off shore supply and cruise ships they tried to compete with the Asian yards but were to costly, by the time they had realised their mistakes the European yards were years ahead of them.


Mostly what the others said below; these countries’ governments support their industries because they appreciate the knock on benefits of doing so enough to front up the higher face cost. The British government doesn’t do that because they’ve relied for too long on London’s financial sector and services to be the backbone of British economy. That’s mainly because they either have a direct stake in financial services or are friends with those who do. Why bother funding or developing anything else if you don’t have a direct stake in it? Besides, financial services show quicker growth and larger profit margins, so who cares about the rest of the country? (To be absolutely clear, I don’t agree with that at all, it just seems to be the way that politicians have been behaving for the last 30 odd years. I think it’s disgraceful)
As for the Netherlands, their entire economy is basically to act as a shipping and logistics hub for Europe and out globally. They’re almost obliged to have a commercial shipbuilding industry, but note that the tugs themselves were actually built in Poland…


In a way it has. For example the British brewing industry was reduced to small scale Ale brewing by the Government’s Beer orders. However the Belgians were allowed by the EU to build up Interbrew ( now Indbev) into the World’s Largest Brewery. So yes the EU is partisan in allowing continental businesses a clear road. I must say we have unpatriotic industry chiefs and financiers who have allowed the sale and dismantling of UK industry. This epic of wanton destruction is noteworthy.




Why? The new arrangements seam to work fine and cost a lot less. Governments typically not good at running businesses.


“SEEMS to work fine and cost a lot less “Who says?I have very little doubt that Serco runs a tighter ship than the civil service, but they are also paying their shareholders and it costs a lot more for them to borrow money than the government. PFI is basically an expensive accounting trick used to push expenditure foward. Billions of pounds have been committed by previous governments that now have to be paid for.
This article sounds like a puff piece for Serco,who have an appalling record in other fields.


“Clearly someone is getting very rich on the back of precious defence funds and is a prime example of why PFI is a plague on all our houses”,and much more on this scam-STRN,17/01/2017


“PFIs don’t work, all you are doing is mortgaging the future “,Mike Turner CEO BAE systems 2003.Now Babcock CEO!


I do agree that Serco has done a splendid job at keeping the fleet going, and I am fully aware of how government run organisation seem to be underfunded quite a lot. The comment was kind of sarcastic but also sort of protesting my dislike for privatisation, and I do believe in time we should renationalise a lot of what has been taken away i.e. Royal Mail etc. Trains I’m not too worried about! But the privatisation of supporting organisation for the services has become ridiculous, air training is now done by Babcock and Lockheed I believe, The RMAS, RAE, ARE, NATS to name very few, the naval bases are run by Babcock and BAE now as well! I believe that if it supports the armed forces it needs to be run by the government and not a private company.
But my comment was slightly sarcastic with a bit of honesty in there as well!


There is nothing good to say about PFI.Forget about the management side of it, the private sector is almost certainly better at that.
As you say, an investment needed to be made and the government could have just directly made it and then made the repayments. Instead it got a private company to do it for them.It costs more for a private company to borrow money than a government and they also tend to charge a large fee for the service.The money still has to be paid back, but the bill is bigger. PFI can only be a more expensive way of borrowing money, no matter how clever everyone is and the only reason for it is to keep the debts off the books.When this unnecessarily large bill comes in, the forces are required to reduce the numbers of ships and aircraft, etc to pay for it, but PFI and long term service contracts stay the same despite the smaller numbers and in the event of the provider getting it wrong and making a loss, they go bust leaving the government on hook after a few glorious years of dividends and executive pay.
I hope that this explains why there can be no such thing as a good PFI.


Also, beware of PFIs in disguise.


Thank God for these companies like Serco, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. Where would we be without them? £1 billion for a defective destroyer, £160 million for a defective fighter plane, £3 billion for an enormous carrier where we can’t afford enough of those £160 million defective aircraft to use properly.

I feel so safe at night given thanks to these companies delivering us value for money weapons with our low taxes to protect us from those evil Russians.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t really need many tug boats any more since the fleet is so small and those ships we do have don’t sail much because they either brake down or we can’t afford to operate them. Serco should get paid regardless of this!


Very cynical David