Cross-Party Industry Visits are a hugely important part of our work at the Industry and Parliament Trust. They offer an invaluable opportunity for parliamentarians to visit industrial sites across a range of sectors that are doing important work in driving innovation, investing in skills, leading the transition to Net Zero and much more. Here, we reflect on two cross-party visits that we recently arranged.
Port of Dover
On 20 April, we visited the Port of Dover with a cross-party group of parliamentarians. The attendees consisted of Daniel Zeichner MP, Baroness Hooper, Seema Malhotra MP, Bill Esterson MP, Royston Smith MP, Harriet Baldwin MP, Patrick Grady MP, Alan Brown MP, Iain Stewart MP and Jackie Doyle Price MP.
Sat below the iconic White Cliffs, the Port of Dover has been an essential source of Britain’s economic prosperity for centuries. Dover is the busiest international ferry port in Europe and, as our closest port, serves as a critical gateway for global trading routes between the UK and Continental Europe, including through its increasingly important and diversifying cargo business.
The visit kicked off with a visit to the cliffs for an excellent birds eye view of the Port where the parliamentarians received an in depth briefing of the Port’s complex operations from CEO Doug Bannister. The parliamentarians were then taken down to the Port itself, where they visited Terminal Control and engaged in an insightful discussion about post-Brexit border fluidity, decarbonisation and infrastructure.
The Port has big ambitions for the future, as it embraces the challenges and opportunities posed by Britain’s departure from the European Union, leads the transition to Net Zero carbon emissions and pursues the system of critical infrastructure that will enable seamless journeys for haulers, locals, and tourists alike in the years ahead. This visit gave a first-hand insight into the scale of these challenges and the action that is being taken to ensure the Port is embracing them for all our benefit.
On 27 April the IPT took a cross-party delegation of parliamentarians to Amazon’s LCY3 Fulfilment Centre in Dartford. The attendees consisted of Sir James Duddridge MP, Seema Malhotra MP, Martyn Day MP, Liz Twist MP, Henry Smith MP, and Lord Taylor of Holbeach.
Amazon launched in the UK in 1998 and has grown to become one of the world’s largest online retailers. In the UK, Amazon has invested over £32 billion in its UK operations since 2010, now employing 70,000 people across the country with a total of 25,000 permanent jobs created last year in a variety of corporate and R&D functions. The Dartford Fulfilment Centre opened in 2021 and includes state of the art robotics technology that operate alongside the 1,500 people Amazon employ at the site.
The visit began with a roundtable discussion about the role of the site and the process that a package takes from being bought online to being delivered. Also discussed were the role that Amazon plays in the local community in Dartford, their skills and apprenticeship schemes, and the importance of SMEs.
A tour of the site allowed members to see some of that packing and distribution process in action and the role that robotics play in tandem with employees at the site, as well as seeing some roles that employees have such as pickers and packers.
We would like to thank both the Port of Dover and Amazon for hosting these visits and giving up their time to showcase their facilities and offer their invaluable insights.