HC Deb 08 March 1967 vol 742 cc1491-3
11. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Minister of Transport what studies she is at present undertaking into the port requirements of the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

Mr. Swingler

The Department and the National Ports Council are continuously engaged in a wide range of studies affecting United Kingdom port requirements. These studies include, in particular, the pattern of port facilities required to handle our imports in the 1970s, with special reference to the technological and other changes which will accompany the growth of container traffic. Other studies relate to the provision to be made for the import of materials in bulk and the need for a careful phasing out of obsolescent port facilities.

Mr. Cooke

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the National Ports Council was unanimously in favour of the Portbury Scheme, which could fulfil all the objectives of the technological advance and so on that the hon. Gentleman has just mentioned? Will he bear this in mind?

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity of reading the lengthy White Paper issued by my right hon. Friend. Because of the significance of the scheme proposed and the work put into it by the Council, it required very serious study. The reasons were set out and I do not think that they have been seriously contested in any quarter with factual analysis. We are, of course, awaiting from the Bristol Authority alternative proposals for the development of their port.

Mr. Dobson

Does not my hon. Friend also agree that his Department is keeping a careful watch over the Portbury Scheme and waiting for the Authority to come along with fresh information and evidence which will enable him to look again at this very important project, supported by all Members on this side of the House?

Mr. Swingler

Yes, Sir. We have said and have substantiated in the White Paper that the case for the Portbury Scheme had not been made out and no one has since come back with factual analyses which contest the arguments in my right hon. Friend's White Paper. Nevertheless, we are expecting in the near future to receive from Bristol some alternative proposals, which will be given urgent consideration.

Mr. Galbraith

The Question on the Order Paper refers to port requirements generally. What does the Minister intend to do about the container berths at Greenock for which, I understand, a request was put in several months ago?

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman has a Question on this matter down on the Order Paper and it will be dealt with by my right hon. Friend.

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