HC Deb 26 March 1941 vol 370 cc565-7
23. Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is satisfied that there is sufficient motor transport to clear the docks at Glasgow, so that ships are not delayed in the discharge of their cargoes?

The Minister of Transport (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)

I am satisfied that there is at present no shortage of road vehicles for this purpose.

Mr. Higgs

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say whether there is a shortage of road vehicles at Liverpool?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

That is entirely a different question.

24. Sir C. MacAndrew

asked the Minister of Transport to what extent lack of warehouse accommodation in the Glasgow area is retarding the clearance of docks and delaying the turn round of ships?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

Lack of storage accommodation in the Glasgow area is not at present retarding quay clearance or delaying the turn-round of ships; but the present reserve is insufficient to meet possible demands, and further suitable accommodation is being sought. An officer was recently appointed in South-West Scotland to see that the best use was made of suitable premises.

Mr. Davidson

In view of the fact that there is no shortage of motor vehicles, warehouses or storage accommodation and that Glasgow dockers are putting in a hard day's work, clearing as quickly as possible, can the Minister say what is holding up the turn-round of ships?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

A lot of "things besides unloading and loading come into the holding-up of ships. I am responsible only for that side of the picture.

Mr. Davidson

Will the Minister investigate the statements which have been made that private railway agreements with the docks are very heavily retarding the unloading and return of ships?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I can answer that straight away. That is not so.

Mr. A. Edwards

Can the Minister say to what extent the Customs authorities are holding things up?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I do not think that is for me to answer.

Sir C. MacAndrew

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend make further inquiries, as his answers do not tally with what shipowners say about that area?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

Certainly, Sir.

Mr. Shinwell

When the Minister says it is not for him to answer questions of this kind, and when we are informed by other Ministers that it is not for them to answer, can we be told who is to answer?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

If the hon. Member raises a Question about the Customs, no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer would reply.

Mr. Shinwell

But when there is delay in clearing docks, and when everybody knows there is serious congestion at the principal docks, why do Ministers constantly "pass the buck" from one to another? Cannot we get some clear explanation of the position? Who is responsible? Is it the Government?

Mr. Garro Jones

Is it more important for the Minister to protect the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Customs Department than it is to inform the House of an important reason why the turn-round of ships is delayed?

Mr. Buchanan

Is not the Minister aware that the position in Glasgow is well known to any ordinary observer? Will he not take some interest in this matter himself and put it right?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

The position in Glasgow is not at all bad. It is probably as good as in any other of the Western ports. I refuse to be responsible for answering for the whole policy of the Government. I am in charge of my Department only, and if hon. Members want to question the whole position of the docks in a general sense, they must address a Question to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Davidson

Will the Minister deny categorically that there is a private agreement between the L.M.S. and the L.N.E.R. at the Shieldhall Docks?

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that it is alleged that we are working on an entirely peace-time basis?

Mr. De la Bére

Is it deliberate that we should be eternally deceived?