HC Deb 03 February 1969 vol 777 cc30-1
23. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Transport if he will consult with outside bodies on the financial implications of the White Paper on the ports.

Mr. Marsh

I am willing to undertake any necessary discussions on the financial implications of the White Paper.

Mr. Ridley

Would the Minister agree that the reason why he is not able to nationalise the ports during the lifetime of the present Parliament is that the cost of finding the new capital would probably be the last straw on an already overburdened, bludgeoned economy?

Mr. Marsh

The Government are entitled to expect consistency from the Opposition. Only last week they were complaining about blanket nationalisation. Now they are complaining that we are not doing enough. We will certainly do our best to meet the hon. Member's wishes and we will do so in a way which will not cost a great deal of money.

Mr. Mikardo

Does the Minister realise that the arrangements set out in the White Paper, under which non-statutory assets will be taken over only after vesting day instead of following the steel precedent of preparing in advance, will enormously increase the burden of compensation? Why on earth has he done it that way?

Mr. Marsh

The short answer is that it will not increase the burden of compensation. The compensation for non-statutory undertakings, while it is impossible to say what the figure will be, will be very small compared with any other nationalisation exercise. The reason for not taking over the non-statutory undertakings in the first place is that in my view this would have complicated too much the managerial job of setting up the National Ports Authority.

Captain W. Elliot

Has the Minister noticed that investment in the industry is not increasing as it should and that one of the reasons is the Government's policy of nationalisation?

Mr. Marsh

No, the hon. and gallant Member is quite wrong. In 1963, the last year his Government were in power, investment in the British port industry was £13.8 million and in the current year it will be £50 million.

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