HC Deb 16 December 1970 vol 808 cc1329-30
15. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has now completed his review of the management and operation of the ports; whether he has completed his plans for strengthening the Ports Council; and if he will now make a statement.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

My right hon. Friend will make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Osborn

Is it not vital that the individual ports should be run as viable commercial enterprises to a much greater extent? Has not the Ports Council a great rôle to play, as was envisaged in the 1964 Act?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, but it is not for the National Ports Council to run the ports. Obviously the council can and does help with advice, but matters of management are for the ports themselves.

Mr. Tinn

Before making his statement, will the Minister look at the tremendous expansion which has taken place on Teesside, which in terms of dry cargo handled is now the third largest port in the United Kingdom? Is he aware that this success has been largely due to excellent labour relations in this publicly-owned port?

Mr. Griffiths

My right hon. Friend will look at the situation in all ports, whether privately-owned or publicly-owned, before making his statement.

Mr. Mulley

Does not the Minister agree that this matter has more urgency than the Government seem to attach to it? Surely before putting a proposal for a strengthened central body in the Conservative election manifesto, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite gave some thought to what they meant. Surely those in the ports industry, after more than six months, are entitled to know what the Government have in mind for the industry. May we be told when we shall get this important statement?

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend is studying the matter carefully. He is not making precipitate decisions. He will make a statement as soon as he is able.