HC Deb 27 March 1968 vol 761 c1537
21. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Transport for what vessels she maintains mooring buoys at an annual cost of £168,000; and why she has increased the number of these buoys from 131 to 141 since 1963, at an increased annual cost of £30,000.

Mr. Swingler

For ocean-going and smaller merchant ships in a war emergency and for 22 ancillary barges to provide a water supply. Moorings for these barges have been provided since 1963 to secure their safe dispersal. Apart from this, there have been small reduction in the number of other moorings, and the total is now down to 134. The increased cost of maintenance is due entirely to higher wages for seamen and higher prices for materials.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that there are more of these buoys than there were some years ago and that large numbers of them are used for only a few days in the year. In these circumstances, is not this a waste of money, and would the hon. Gentleman undertake to look into the whole question?

Mr. Swingler

I have looked into the whole question. I have noticed the number of occasions on which the hon. Gentleman has raised it and on which a predecessor of mine went to considerable trouble to explain the position to him. It would be very difficult to achieve any substantial saving on account of hiring storage space on land which would be required if that is what we resorted to. In any case, those responsible still consider that these moorings are necessary in case of an emergency.

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