HC Deb 23 July 1958 vol 592 cc418-9
33. Mr. Gower

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware that further industrial expansion in South Wales, together with the completion of power stations, factories and other industrial undertakings, must further deplete the surplus of Welsh coal available for export through the South Wales ports; if he will therefore give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to place all ports in the United Kingdom on the same footing in the matter of all charges within its control; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nugent

Industrial expansion in South Wales is producing alternative traffics for the ports. It would be inappropriate for us to give the suggested direction; the Commission settles economic rates for the use of its own ports, and for the movement of goods by rail to and from all ports, within the limits prescribed by the Transport Tribunal. As the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was informed on 11th June, British Railways is ready to receive sympathetically any request from traders for an economic rate for goods shipped regularly through South Wales ports.

Mr. Gower

Is my hon. Friend aware that information I have obtained from the National Coal Board and from the Central Electricity Authority indicates that in the next few years there is bound to be a further drop in the ship export of coal from these ports? In view of the seriousness of that news to Cardiff, and Barry in particular, in conjunction with the British Transport Commission will my hon. Friend treat this as a special emergency, requiring emergency treatment?

Mr. Nugent

If my hon. Friend has any special suggestions or proposals to make with regard to the rates in these ports, I shall be very glad to send them to the Commission.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May we take it that the Minister and the Ministry recognise the services which these ports have rendered to the export trade and also the changing pattern of the export trade, which requires that these ports should be on an equal footing with other ports in the country?

Mr. Nugent

We certainly recognise the importance of these ports. That is why we are building improved roads from the Midlands cities down to these ports and want to see them used to the very maximum.