HC Deb 11 May 1964 vol 695 cc110-1

Lords Amendment: In page 27, line 39, leave out "charges" and insert "dues".

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

During the Report stage I undertook that we would restore the requirement that certain charges should be reasonable. But I warned at the time that the restoration of this requirement would not be a simple matter. That is the reason for the large number of Amendments following upon this one. Indeed, the next 13 Amendments stem from this change.

Since the Amendment is rather complicated the House may find it helpful and it may save time if I indicate briefly what will be achieved. The position is not changed as far as ship, passenger and goods dues are concerned. Such charges will continue to be at the discretion of the harbour authorities but will be subject to objection made to the Council by users. This discretion is contained in the amended Clause 25 for non-nationalised ports and in the amended Clause 26 for nationalised harbours, while the objection procedure is covered by Clause 29. Charges other than ship passenger and goods dues will in general be subject to the requirement that they must be reasonable.

There are at present charges which are entirely at the discretion of a harbour authority, and it has been decided that these should continue on that basis. They are, however, comparatively few and the great bulk of charges other than dues will be subject to the requirement of reasonableness. This is covered by new Clause B. In addition, a harbour authority may wish to levy new charges and may not have the necessary powers in its own Acts to do so. For this reason, the power to levy charges has been added to the objects for which harbour revision orders may be made in Schedule 2.

Although restoring the requirement that charges should be reasonable has proved very much more complicated than even we had expected, I believe that the Clause as amended gives a fair degree of freedom of charging to harbour authorities and at the same time protects the legitimate interests of users.

This is the first of 11 closely-linked Amendments which have the effect of making Clause 25 apply only to ship, passenger and goods dues.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.