HC Deb 11 May 1964 vol 695 cc123-4

Lords Amendment: in page 62 line 29 at end insert: (4) Any reference in this Act (elsewhere than in the foregoing provisions of this section or in section 38) to ship, passenger and goods dues shall be construed as including a reference to charges payable by persons using a ferry which is a marine work.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

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

This is a new Amendment which clarifies a minor aspect of the provisions of the Bill relating to charges. It ensures that the provisions relating to dues fixed by a harbour authority as set out in the Bill apply also to charges for passengers crossing on a ferry which is a marine work in Scotland. The Clauses of the Bill dealing with charges and dues will thus apply to these fares in just the same way as they apply to ship, passenger and goods dues, which means that they will be free from control but will be subject to procedure for objections to be lodged against them under Clause 29.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Hoy

Although the hon. and gallant Gentleman can say with truth that this Amendment refers only to ferries in Scotland, these charges are extremely important. I can assure him of that. Those who have to use them take very strong objection to some of the charges which are imposed. I want an assurance from the Minister that no power will be taken away from the individual user to voice his or her complaint if these charges are so revised as to be regarded by users as intolerable. I want an assurance that users will lose none of the protection which they have to safeguard their individual rights against charges which they regard as exorbitant.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I think that I can give that assurance. I fully realise the importance of this matter. The hon. Gentleman may recall that, when we were suddenly faced with these Amendments in Committee, I refused to move them because I felt that the Committee and the House would require more notice. They were moved on Report by my hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State for Scotland and were accepted by the House. I think that I am right in saying, however, that in their original form these Amendments would have allowed very little latitude for objections to be made to the charges because such charges would not come under the heading of ship dues, but would have come under the heading of charges for services and, presumably, would have been subject only to the requirement that they had to be reasonable.

By this Amendment, we are putting these charges in the category of ship dues. Therefore, the whole procedure under which an appeal can be made to the Secretary of State for Scotland under Clause 29 applies. Moreover, because they are now treated as ship, passenger and goods dues, it will be open to the appropriate Minister, as I understand it, to order a new scale of charges, if necessary, under Clause 30 of the Bill, I think it was, when it left the Hause.

Question put and agreed to.