HC Deb 25 January 1961 vol 633 cc167-8
35. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is satisfied with the administrative arrangements far overseeing the shipping and shipbuilding industries.

Mr. Hay

We are always glad to consider possible improvements. The General Council of British Shipping in its recent report made certain suggestions which my right hon. Friend will discuss with the General Council.

Mr. Mellish

Is the Parliamentary Secretary really telling the House that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is still capable of looking after shipping, shipbuilding and what have you in view of the new commitments that he is to undertake in relation to the reorganisation of the railways? Is he to be chairman of the new board, to run the railways, and at the same time still to deal with shipping and shipbuilding?

Mr. Hay

The hon. Gentleman has obviously not read the White Paper with the assiduity we expect of him, If he reads the White Paper, he will see that my right hon. Friend is not taking on any fresh powers; indeed, far from running the railways, he is hiving off that responsibility to an independent body having that as its single-minded purpose.

Mr. P. Williams

Does my hon. Friend remember that when we debated the transfer of functions about a year ago his right hon. Friend said that if he found the load of his office too heavy in relation to shipping and shipbuilding he would go to the Prime Minister and recommend a transfer? Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a very considerable body of opinion that believes that the Ministry of Transport is now too big? Can I ask him specifically whether any consideration has been given to the establishment of a separate Ministry of Ship- ping to look after the maritime policy of our maritime nation?

Mr. Hay

My right hon. Friend has shown no difficulty in carrying the heavy weight of his office in the last twelve months, and I can assure the House that his absence today is only temporary. The other matter raised by my hon. Friend ought not to be dealt with at my level. Perhaps he will address it to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

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