HC Deb 14 December 1970 vol 808 cc923-4
6. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will pay official visits to each of the South Wales ports.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have already visited the docks at Newport, Cardiff, Barry and Swansea, and I hope to visit others in due course.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that it does not seem to have done him or them much good? Will he visit them again to explain why he has betrayed the essential dock interests of Swansea, Barry, Newport and Cardiff by giving the go-ahead to the Bristol docks development? Will he explain how the Minister of Transport has shown greater ability in protecting his local Somerset interests than has the right hon. and learned Gentleman in protecting his essential interests in South Wales?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I greatly benefited from my visit to the South Wales docks. I was greatly impressed by what has been done there. I have no reason to doubt the ability of the South Wales docks to withstand competition from wherever it comes.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that the Government's decision to authorise the Bristol docks scheme could do immense harm to the South Wales docks? Will he confirm his faith in the Govern- ment's decision? As Chairman of the Conservative Party, did he give any consideration to the fact that there are more Conservative votes in Bristol than in South Wales?

Mr. Peter Thomas

That is totally wrong. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the position about the Bristol port was a matter of policy declared before the General Election.

Mr. Gower

Will my right hon. and learned Friend exert himself in the Cabinet to ensure that all necessary help is given to the South Wales ports? Is that not a better method of doing it than merely fighting a battle with Bristol?

Mr. Peter Thomas

As I said, I was very impressed by what I saw in the South Wales ports, especially the managerial expertise and drive of the port director and his staff and the initiative and enthusiasm of all engaged in the docks in South Wales. I have no doubt that they will continue to be successful.