HC Deb 28 April 1965 vol 711 cc446-7
14. Mr. Heffer

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a statement on the interim proposals of the National Ports Council; and what specific proposals they contain for the port of Liverpool.

Mr. Tom Fraser

I am awaiting the Council's report, which it has promised to let me have after it has discussed the proposals in it with the port authorities concerned.

Mr. Heffer

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board has now developed a scheme for the extension of the docks in Liverpool? Has this been drawn to his attention, and, if so, what support are the Government likely to give to this expansion scheme?

Mr. Fraser

I am aware of the proposed expansion at Liverpool, but, under the terms of the Harbours Act passed last year, I am obliged to await the advice which I may receive from the National Ports Council on the proposal. I should tell the House and my hon. Friend that it would be not only very improper of me to anticipate what I might say after I get the Council's advice on the matter, but very wrong of me to take a decision on individual, very costly port projects without seeking to fit all of them into a total expenditure which will ensure, so faras I can ensure it, that the nation will get the best results from the capital investment involved.

Mr. Galbraith

Could the right hon. Gentleman clear up this matter? Has he had the report from the National Ports Council in respect of this area? Is he waiting for reports from all other areas before he makes a statement? Has he any idea when he may be able to make a statement, not only with regard to this area, but with regard to all areas?

Mr. Fraser

I am awaiting the receipt of what has come to be known as the National Ports Council's interim£100 million plan. The Council tells me that it will let me have it quite soon and I shall study it with interest.

Mr. Wilkins

It was about six weeks ago that my right hon. Friend said that he hoped to make a statement shortly. When is "shortly"?

Mr. Fraser

I am not altogether able to determine when I shall be able to make a statement. I cannot make a statement on the Ports Council's plan until I have received it. I have let the Council know that I want it as soon as the Council can reasonably let me have it, and it has told me that it will let me have it shortly. I hope that that means in a very few weeks.

Mr. Tilney

Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that what the Merseyside ports want is extension of the motorway, too?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, but when we are discussing ports it is as well for the House to bear in mind that the delay in handling our exports is normally occasioned in the ports and not on the way to them. A big job is being undertaken in improving port facilities.

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