HC Deb 08 July 1919 vol 117 cc1612-3

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether he is aware of the congestion prevailing in the port of Liverpool; whether that at times as many as thirty large steamers have been waiting for berths, and that many of them have to wait for several weeks before obtaining discharging berths; whether this congestion and the delays and losses occasioned thereby to British shipping are due to the inability of the railways to deal with the cargoes and clear the port; and, if not, what is the cause of the congestion?

Colonel WILSON

The congestion at Liverpool and other great ports has been the subject of earnest consideration by the Port and Transit Executive Committee for some time past, and efforts have been made to relieve the situation in every way possible. Though the railway situation is undoubtedly one of the factors, the present state cannot be wholly attributed to this. Other contributory causes are the concentration of stocks of foodstuffs in the ports, the diminished traffic through the smaller ports due to the cessation of Continental supplies and labour difficulties in the ports, and the fact that a large amount of traffic formerly carried by the coastal services and canals is now carried by the railways.


Will the Shipping Controller use his best efforts to increase the coastal service and thereby relieve the railway pressure?

Colonel WILSON

My right hon. Friend is doing everything possible.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Why are not some of the thirty large steamers sent round to the East Coast ports which are not congested?

Colonel WILSON

These are all steamers which by reason of the nature of their cargoes can only be taken into Liverpool, and no port on the East Coast where there is not congestion is available.

Major NALL

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that while steamers are lying in the Mersey waiting to be unloaded labour is frequently idle in Manchester, and that many of these ships might be diverted to Manchester?

Colonel WILSON

I can assure ray hon. and gallant Friend that we have done everything possible to divert ships to harbours which are not congested. The situation is undoubtedly very serious, and it is receiving the anxious consideration of my right hon. Friend.