§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Mr. Speaker
I have not selected the Amendment in the names of the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) and his hon. Friends to postpone Second Reading for six months.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin McLaren (Bristol, North-West)
I support the Bill and commend it to the House. It is a Bill to authorise Bristal Corporation to construct a new dock system called West Dock on land across the River Avon opposite Avon-mouth. The land is in north Somerset and in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, who, I know, supports the Bill. My own special interest in it is that the dock would be an extension of Avonmouth, which is in my constituency.
The Bill itself is in the form generally in use for these purposes and contains provisions conferring powers to construed works, to extinguish private rights of way, and matters of that kind. The substantial question before the House tonight is whether Bristol Corporation, which owns and manages the Port of Bristol. should have parliamentary authority to construct the proposed dock. The Bill started in another place and survived the scrutiny of an opposed Private Bill Committee.
The main case for the Bill is as follows. All over the world the tendency has been for docks and harbours to be located nearer the mouths of estuaries, nearer deep water. The reasons are that ships grow larger in size; they are no longer physically able to sail up narrow rivers and go through locks to inland ports, or to spend the extra time and incur the expense which this involves. The Port of Bristol started in the centre of our city and flourished there for several centuries. In late Victorian and in Edwardian times Avonmouth was constructed seven miles downstream at the mouth of the River Avon, and the larger ships used it rather than the city docks. The forces which I have mentioned are 660 now compelling the Port of Bristol Authority to propose the closing down of the city docks altogether. That is the subject of another Bill, to which I refer only in passing.
Avonmouth is full up; there are frequent berth delays there; ships have to wait in the roads outside the port. No land is available there for further expansion. There are signs of obsolescence. It is difficult to upgrade the facilities for the larger ships of tomorrow, and the bulk carriers which are going to arrive will not be able to go through Avonmouth lock gates.
So if the Port of Bristol is to continue to survive it is essential that it should be allowed to construct the new West Dock system and be able to provide unprovided facilities which are required by shipping in the changed circumstances of the end of the twentieth century.
All the hon. Members who, on both sides of the House, sit for Bristol are, I think, united in asking that the Bill should be given a Second Reading.
The history of the matter is that the Port of Bristol Authority, with commendable foresight, bought the land in about 1959 and is asking to be allowed to construct the dock on land which is already in the authority's ownership. The estimated cost is between £12 million and £13 million. Bristol Corporation is prepared to raise and find this amount itself, but, naturally, if an Exchequer grant were forthcoming, it would be welcome; but the scheme does not essentially depend on that. So all we are asking Parliament to allow us to do is to build the dock on our own land and at our own expense.
Let me set out the main advantages to the country. We have a virgin site on undeveloped farmland, a wonderful opportunity to make a modern, convenient layout capable of taking ships up to 65,000 tons. It is not like the case where docks have to be extended to some further corner of industrial land. It is near deep water which Providence has decreed should run on the Bristol and not the South Wales side of the Channel. We have close access to the motorway network, the M4 and M5 motorways, east, west, south and north. How different from the situation of the London and Liverpool docks where road transport has to endure long delays in traffic 661 blocks in the streets leading to those docks. Hitherto it has been thought that the port depended for its traffic on the industrial hinterland a relatively short distance from the port, but I think the West Dock, if we have it, will show that this concept is out of date. Goods are going to roll along the motorways from 100 miles away in two hours, and goods will be exported through Bristol from the Midlands and from the western outskirts of London in preference to being sent to London docks or to. Merseyside. It will be quicker to get from, say, Slough to Bristol than to the Royal Docks in London, and this will lead not only to a saving in time but to a saving in wear and tear of vehicles and in transport costs.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
On this question of the motorways, while I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has developments taking place in his area, is he aware of very similar developments taking place in South Wales?
§ Mr. McLaren
That is quite true. Newport Docks, for which the hon. Members speaks, and South Wales have the M4, but Avonmouth and West Dock are superbly sited because they are very close to the crossing at Almondsbury of the M4 and M5 and, therefore, have motorway access, as I say, to all points of the compass.
Although we have this virgin site with these superb road transport facilities, we have also on the doorstep the whole complex of specialist services on which the success of any port depends—the skilled manpower, stevedores, the tugs, the expert management which the port has always enjoyed. Also we are in distance the nearest steaming point to the main oceanic routes, with economies in steaming time.
The economics of the project have been thoroughly considered. Consultants have reported that the rate of return on capital investment should be from 12 per cent. to 16 per cent. over an assumed life of the dock of 50 years.
I now turn to consider the attitude of the National Ports Council to our case. As the House will know, that body was formed under the Harbours Act, 1964, to be an expert adviser to the Government on whether projects for harbour development would be in the national interest 662 and, particularly, whether they would cause overlapping and be unnecessary.
History shows that not once, not twice, but three times the National Ports Council has made favourable recommendations in respect of this project. On the present occasion it reported to the Ministry in the following terms:The ultimate question is whether the advantages which authorisation of West Dock II would bring in port operational local and regional terms, and of which the port management and their parent corporations are convinced, are offset by disadvantages from the national point of view which would justify rejection of the scheme for a third time. The Council's view is that this development should take place…".The House may have noticed that only within the last few days the Council has issued its latest annual report, paragraph 63 of which deals with the West Dock and says:During the year the Port of Bristol Authority were successful in their third consecutive application for a new dock development on the Somerset bank of the Avon. The Council recommended this scheme for approval, as indeed they have recommended earlier schemes, on the basis, inter alia, that without such development the port of Bristol would decline. The estimated cost of the scheme was distinctly less than that for earlier schemes thanks to the port authority reconsidering layout, obtaining additional site information and applying the latest engineering techniques in the design.The House will see that we have enjoyed the advantage of the repeated blessings of the National Ports Council, the very body appointed by Parliament to judge these projects and make recommendations to the Government of the day. Acting on that latest recommendation, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries authorised the scheme on 7th November last in the exercise of his powers under Section 9 of the Harbours Act. We are grateful to him for that decision, and we congratulate him on having reached the right decision. We have also had the approval and support for several years of the Southwest Economic Planning Council and of the trade unions representing dock workers.
The first version of the project was called the Portbury Scheme. It appeared in 1965. It was a much larger scheme which would have cost about £27 million. Under the Harbours Act any harbour development costing more than £50,000 had to receive the approval of the Minister. 663 Under the stress of objections from South Wales, this approval was withheld by the Minister of Transport in 1966, even though the project was recommended by the National Ports Council.
We tried again. In 1968 a modified version was brought forward—West Dock Mark I, which was again recommended by the National Ports Council. But the Bill seeking authorisation for this was defeated in the House on 8th July, 1968, the Government Whips acting as tellers against it. The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer), who is always so shrewd, told the House on that occasion that our case was opposed for political reasons.
Why should the projects have so far been defeated in this way? The answer is because of the political activities, perfectly legitimate, of hon. Members opposite representing constituencies in South Wales, who saw in the Bristol plans a supposed threat to the prosperity of their own dock undertakings. I shall seek to show that these fears are misplaced.
There are two arguments against the South Wales view. The first is that the trades on each side of the Bristol Channel are essentially different. The South Wales ports are largely importers of iron ore for conversion into steel and exporters of finished steel products. Bristol, on the other hand, is an importer of miscellanous cargoes, some in bulk, such as grain, feeding stuffs, oil, tobacco, meat, Butter, cheese, tea and coffee. The trades are different and are bound to keep mainly to their own sides of the Channel, as they have done so far.
The second argument is that the more shipping that can be attracted to the Bristol Channel the more benefit there will be to ports on both sides of it. There is a mutual advantage. If one port is full, a ship will be diverted to another. It is like the old-fashioned shopping centre when the supermarket arrives. The smaller shopkeepers fear the worst, but what often happens is that the whole shopping centre has more custom and added benefit goes to all of them.
What we really have to decide, on both sides of this House and on both sides of the Bristol Channel, is whether or not we believe in the Bristol Channel as a 664 shipping estuary. If we do, the West Dock is needed as a facility just as much as Milford Haven or Port Talbot. It is the whole complex which gains. We have to provide facilities which suit every ship. If the facilities are there, the trade will follow.
§ Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)
Does my hon. Friend accept that an increase in trade in the Bristol Channel will benefit all ports in the Bristol Channel, not least Bridgwater and Watchet?
§ Mr. McLaren
Yes. I can go further. This project has the support and good will of the whole of the West of England.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
Would not harm be done to the Bristol Channel if there were massive under-utilisation of the South Wales ports and the West Dock was not able to pay its way? Was not that the evidence given by the Docks Board on the 1968 Bill?
§ Mr. McLaren
That point was dealt with a great deal more recently in the Committee proceedings in another place. Three corporations from South Wales objected to the Bill. They were represented by learned counsel. The Committee was satisfied that their case had not been made out. I would be very sorry if there were any diminution of trade in South Wales ports but I do not expect that to happen. Equally, I think that the West Dock will be a success. It will not be half empty or need to cut its rates unfairly.
§ Mr. Morris
If the hon. Gentleman's thesis is correct, does he not agree that one must look at the estuary as a whole? Would there not be harm to the whole if there were serious financial deficiencies on the one hand at the South Wales ports because of under-utilisation, and overcapacity at the Bristol West Dock? Would not harm be done to the whole estuary if they were all in financial difficulties?
§ Mr. McLaren
The fallacy of that argument relates to the amount of trade that will come to Bristol from the South Wales areas. I am more of an optimist. I hope to see an increased volume of trade which will benefit the whole area. Since the end of the war much development has taken place in South Wales ports and much Government money has been 665 spent in grants to improve them. A different attitude has been shown on both sides of the Bristol Channel. We in Bristol are delighted that the South Wales ports should be modernised and developed, and we pay our share as taxpayers. I say "Good luck" to them. We hope that they, for their part, will display a more magnanimous spirit. Why should they fear honest competition? I hope that at long last they will give up this dog-in-the-manger attitude of suspicion.
§ Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)
One of the reasons why we are so suspicious is that the Chairman of the Port of Bristol Authority is on record as saying that one of his intentions is to adopt an aggressive marketing policy with the object of winning as much traffic as he possibly can from other ports and that, in this respect, no holds would be barred. That is why we are worried.
§ Mr. McLaren
I do not think the Chairman of the Port of Bristol Authority had the South Wales ports specifically in mind. We are entitled to seek, by honest competition, to draw in the direction of the West Dock via the M5 motorway, some of the traffic from the Midlands which now goes to other ports. The spirit should be that we should prosper together and benefit from the increased trade.
There are some hopeful signs. We have noticed that the Welsh ports which petitioned against the Bill in another place have not put forward a petition in this House. If the House is willing to give a Second Reading to the Bill this evening, it will proceed as an unopposed Private Bill. The ground was cut from under the feet of the Welsh ports by the impartial verdict of the National Ports Council that the Bristol plan was required and that there would be no undesirable duplication. Other hon. Members from the Bristol area will improve on what I have tried to say by mentioning other aspects.
The Port of Bristol has had a glorious history in English life. As long ago as 1273 Bristol supplied 23 ships to fight against the French in the Hundred Years War. For that, Edward III made us a City and County. It was from our port that Sebastian Cabot sailed to discover the New World. Coming to our own times, Bristol was a main base for the American forces who helped to liberate the Continent of Europe in 1944.
666 I trust that this House, not unmindful of the splendours of history of the Port of Bristol, will agree to give us the opportunity to modernise and recreate our facilities so that we may continue to thrive and prosper and give valuable maritime service to our country in the new age which is to come.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
The Bill has been very ably moved by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren). There is a large attendance of West Country Members in the Chamber tonight. What is noticeable is that there is not a single Conservative Member in the Chamber who represents South Wales interests. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) after a similar debate three years ago this month voted against his Conservative colleagues. However tonight, presumably following the change of Government, he feels that he can absent himself from the Chamber.
I would also draw attention to representatives of Her Majesty's Government from the Welsh Office—
§ Mr. Hughes
Any representation from the Welsh Office is missing tonight, and this is a disgrace to the Principality.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)
May I remind the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) of what was said to him by Mr. Speaker when we debated the Bristol Corporation Bill three years ago:The hon. Member must take note of what I said. This is not the Newport Corporation Bill; it is the Bristol Corporation Bill. He must link his remarks to the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1968; Vol. 768, c. 172.]
§ Mr. Hughes
If the hon. Gentleman will be silent for a moment, I will make my case. The hon. Gentleman has not been in the House very long, whereas I have been a Member during most of the instalments of what I would remind him has been a long saga. There was the lavish Portbury scheme, costing £27 million; there was then the cut-down £15 million West Dock Mark I scheme; and tonight we are debating the Bristol West Dock Mark II scheme.
I, like other hon. Members, have received a document from the promoters 667 of the Bill, which points out in paragraph 12:It is respectfully submitted that the proposals contained in the Bill do not involve any question of principle which is open to objection of so serious a character as to justify refusing to grant the Bill a Second Reading. It is also submitted that the merits of the Bill raise issues which cannot conveniently be discussed in detail on the Floor of the House.I will treat those remarks with the contempt that they deserve.
We in South Wales have been consistent in our opposition to the Bristol expansion scheme. We have pointed to the fact that the South Wales ports are considerably under-used. Last year, the Newport Docks were closed for four months and the trade was diverted to other ports in South Wales; but those ports were still not fully utilised. It is estimated that at present they are working at only half capacity. It is worth pointing out that if working to full capacity the labour force in the South Wales docks would have to be doubled.
The South Wales area has had a serious unemployment problem for a long period of time. We maintain that a development of this kind in South Wales could be carried out more quickly, efficiently and at a fraction of the cost. Therefore, we were surprised and shocked to hear on 17th November last that the Minister for Transport Industries had given Bristol the go-ahead for this scheme. This matter had been fully discussed in the debate on 8th July, 1968.
Mr. Richard Marsh was then Minister of Transport. He gave a very considered judgment about this matter. It is interesting that the present Secretary of State for the Environment thought so much of Mr. Marsh's ability and judgment that he made him Chairman of British Railways. However, in view of the way in which this matter was gone into in depth by Mr. Marsh, it is a pity that it has been reopened tonight.
We are discussing a major piece of public expenditure, and I know that all hon. Members will agree that national resources must be used to the best possible advantage. Whether the money is raised by Bristol using its rates as security, or raised directly out of public funds, it is still public expenditure. This Government have taken a strong line on public expenditure, and they have made 668 certain cuts. We have had proposals to cut housing subsidies. They have been mean and parsimonious over school milk and meals. Where is the consistency when they allow wasteful and unnecessary expenditure of this sort by allowing Bristol's West Dock scheme to go ahead? They are the Government who promised to cut prices "at a stroke". Instead, they have introduced inflation on South American standards. They promised to cut unemployment "at a stroke". Instead, they have taken us back to the 1930s.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
My hon. Friend's point about inflation is directly relevant to this case, since it was estimated in the course of the Committee proceedings in the other place that in 12 months the cost has risen 12 per cent. above that which we are asked to approve tonight and that, in the time that it takes to build the dock, it will probably rise by another third.
§ Mr. Donald Coleman (Neath)
My hon. Friend referred just now to local authority expenditure and the action of the Government in respect of school milk. May I remind him that the Government have introduced a Measure which refuses the right of Bristol Corporation to spend money on school milk while, at the same time, it is to be permitted to spend a vast sum on this wasteful scheme?
§ Mr. Hughes
That illustrates the inconsistency of the Government in this matter. I agree wtih my hon. Friend entirely.
There is the question of the grant which it is permissible for the Government to authorise under the 1964 Act. However, if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite gave a grant towards this scheme, it would be a shameful decision. For South Wales, it would be adding insult to injury. In the 1968 debate, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) moved the Second Reading of the Bill and indicated that Bristol would be prepared to go ahead without a grant. That has been reiterated tonight by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West. This is a very important point. My understanding was that many interests in Bristol were prepared to go ahead only 669 if a Government grant was forthcoming. I hope that the Minister for Transport Industries will comment on that.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)
My hon. Friend must appreciate that this is not a party issue. The scheme was put forward by Bristol when the Labour Party was in control of the corporation. It has been supported throughout by the Labour Party in the City.
§ Mr. Hughes
I have not referred to any controversy of a political nature. I am glad to hear that there is none.
The famous city of Bristol is the centre of an important and prosperous sub-region. Economically, Bristol is developing fast. Its population is increasing rapidly, and the number of jobs in the city has risen correspondingly. However, the level of port traffic is below the average for the rest of the country. That suggests that the economy of Bristol does not depend on the port. Indeed, why should it? After all, ours is only a tiny island. Why should not traffic go to other ports?
Mr. Richard Marsh pointed out that the discounted cash flow was insufficient, in his judgment, and that there was no industrial hinterland. He rejected the scheme on economic grounds alone. There was nothing parochial in his decision.
If a Conservative Government go ahead with the scheme, a shipping war may break out in the Bristol Channel because of doubts about the financing of the scheme. One has to bear in mind such matters as interest payments, general maintenance and development, and staffing. It is estimated that they will demand approximately £5 million. Certainly that is far more than the existing Bristol trade of 7 million to 8 million tons would justify, even assuming a modest expansion.
The port of Bristol has given an estimate of a discounted cash flow of between 11 and 16 per cent. Forecasting is essentially a matter of judgment, but hon. Members representing South Wales constituencies and a number of technical experts have maintained that that claim is highly exaggerated.
The project envisages a dock capable of handling ships of 65,000 tons. We 670 feel that such a project is not in line with modern trends of port development. The trend is towards much larger ships, of 100,000 tons and over and ships of 30,000 tons or less.
When one comes to consider the financial prospects of docks, one has only to look at what has happened in Liverpool and in London and all the financial troubles there. Since Bristol made its last application in 1968, the situation of ports has deteriorated rapidly.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
I am sure that my hon. Friend has read that Bristol hopes to take in goods and trans-ship them to the North-East. In view of the fact that there are ports in the North-East, is not that economic argument a fallacious one?
§ Mr. Hughes
Certainly it would do great harm to the North-East, which is already an area of chronic unemployment that is facing a very difficult economic situation.
In April, 1968, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Transport answered an Adjournment debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol Central (Mr. Palmer), in the course of which he said:On any reasonable assessment of traffic and revenue prospects, the West Dock Scheme can at best barely pay for itself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1968; Vol. 762, c. 852.]Since then, the financial state of our docks has deteriorated markedly.
The hon. Member for Bristol, Northwest reiterated the argument of Bristol Corporation that it has the support of the National Ports Council. On the surface, that seems to be very powerful support. However, following the performances of Sir Arthur Kirby in 1968, I do not take him very seriously. In past years he was a prominent colonial administrator. However, when he recommended the 1968 scheme I found his remarks rather comical. I put it as low as that. For instance, in a letter to the Ministry of Transport, dated 24th August 1967, about the West Dock scheme, he said:The project was not one that could be recommended to you if the test were to be solely that of early and substantial return on the investment. Other ports have had investment, so Bristol should, too.671 He concluded:It is not to my liking to have to recommend a project on this negative line of reasoning.I find this very poor evidence to endorse a major piece of public expenditure. It may have been the way to recommend a scheme in darkest Africa, but it is not the way to recommend a scheme involving a large amount of national expenditure in modern Britain.
I contrast that with the evidence of Mr. Tom Roberts, who is the South Wales Ports Director. In the first West Dock hearing he was asked by counsel for the Docks Board:Would you regard it ordinarily as a business proposition to simply lay out capital on hopes without any firm commitment?Mr. Roberts' reply was:No. This is quite contrary to our policy.Mr. Richard Marsh, the then Minister of Transport, on 8th July, 1968, said:if I were a Bristolian, I would have some doubt about a project which would be such a charge on public funds as this one.He then went on to illustrate some figures:In the second year there would be a deficit of £97,000 which would be just over Id. on the rate. In the third year there would be a deficit of £258,000, equivalent to a 3d. rate. In the fourth year there would be a deficit of £507,000, equivalent to 5.7d. on the rate. In the fifth year there would be a net deficit of £748,000 with a rate equivalent of 8.4d.…Nobody is in any doubt that this is not expected to be a profitable investment for a very long time, if ever. That is not a matter for me; that is a matter for Bristolians. The burden of my case is that a major port investment must be viewed in a national context in terms of port policy and the call on national resources.Later, he said:no Government, of any party would be able to accept an investment on this level, of this speculative nature and with this level of return."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1968; Vol. 768, c. 151–54.]Those were the reasons for the then Minister of Transport using his powers under the Harbours Act, 1964, to veto the scheme.
Since 1968 the situation has certainly deteriorated. I represent the county borough of Newport. We are very worried about our docks. Last year, the new iron ore terminal was opened at Port Talbot. It is interesting to note that it has been a very good investment. In the first nine months of operation it has made 672 a surplus of about £500,000. Nevertheless, the British Steel Corporation has announced that it intends to bring its imports of iron ore overland to Port Talbot to service the Ebbw Vale steel works and the Spencer steel works at Llanwern. This decision has caused a great deal of concern in Newport. Iron ore is the basis of Newport's port trade. If this trade is taken away from Newport and the West Dock is built, it will be competing for the small amount of trade which is left in Newport. Our port would then face a difficult situation. What trade would be left? There are steel coils, motor vehicles and timber, representing about £1 million. If the West Dock is built, it will have to capture this trade. If it is not successful in obtaining this trade it certainly should not be built.
§ Mr. McLaren
The hon. Gentleman quoted the views of Mr. Tom Roberts, whom we all respect. I was interested to see that recently his views were quoted in the Welsh Grand Committee. He appeared on television and the following question was put to him:How do you see the future of the South Wales ports on the presumption that this Bristol scheme goes ahead?Mr. Roberts' reply was as follows:I still view the future of the South Wales ports with the utmost confidence. The Severn Estuary is second only to the Thames in the present volume of its trade, and its further potential is enormous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Welsh Grand Committee, 10th March, 1971; c. 52.]Does not that paint a more hopeful picture for all of us?
§ Mr. Hughes
Mr. Tom Roberts is a powerful authority in these matters. He was certainly a very powerful opponent of the West Dock scheme in 1968. What has changed? The Government have changed. I am not suggesting that a directive has gone out from the Minister for Transport Industries to the British Transport Docks Board saying that it is not to oppose the West Dock scheme. However, I learned early in life that there is more than one way of killing a pig. There are obvious examples before the eyes of the Docks Board officials. There is the fate of Lord Hall at the Post Office, the fate of Lord Robens at the Coal Board, and the position of Lord Melchett is most precarious. As I see it, jobs are very much at stake in this instance.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that Mr. Roberts' views are expressed solely out of consideration for retaining his job? I hope that he will withdraw that slur on a considerable public servant.
§ Mr. Hughes
The Under-Secretary knows that I dealt with this matter in the Welsh Grand Committee. I said then that if Mr. Roberts had changed his opinion on the matter it was the greatest conversion for 2,000 years. I stand by that.
§ Mr. John Morris
Does my hon. Friend agree that hitherto there has been no suggestion that Mr. Roberts has changed his mind in any way? The quotation by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren) was an expression of confidence by Mr. Roberts to keep up the spirits of those in his employ. There has been no suggestion that he has changed his mind at all.
§ Mr. Hughes
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right.
If this project goes ahead it will, on the one hand, be a disaster for the national economy, for the estuary as a whole, and certainly for the citizens and ratepayers of Bristol. On the other hand, if it is viable, we should have to close all the ports in South Wales. This is the only conclusion to which we can come.
Today we have had the annual report of the Docks Board in South Wales. It shows a small surplus of £300,000, but what we have to take into consideration is the fact that the margin between profit and loss is extremely marginal, of the order of 1 per cent. to 2 per cent., and all that South Wales has to do is to lose that 1 per cent. to 2 per cent. to the West Dock and it would go into the red. The position as we see it is that West Dock never gets out of the red, and the whole of the Bristol Channel is bankrupt, in the red, resulting in ruin to the estuary and to the national economy. What a monument that would be to these latter-day merchant adventurers in Bristol.
It is heartening on our side of the Channel to note that there are now dissentient voices on the other side. I have in mind a business man, Mr. Terry Bryant, who took a full page advertisement in the 674 Daily Press of 15th April. Dealing with the question of loans he said:The Port of Bristol Authority has…borrowed a total of £6,346,132 in 10 years from the Bristol Corporation Consolidated Loans Fund on which it paid an average of 3 per cent. less per annum than rate payers have to pay on money borrowed to lend it.We have heard a lot about fair trading. To my mind that does not seem to be a good example of it. It seems that business men in Bristol are waxing fat on the backs of the ratepayers. This journal does not tell the true facts to the people of Bristol, and that is why the gentleman in question has to take out special advertisements.
To quote Mr. Bryant again on the question of costs, he says:West Dock (Mark II) Original estimate, £12 million. Inflation at 25 per cent., £3 million. Contingencies, £1 million. Interest, £3 million, Total, £19 million.That is already a long way off the original estimate of £12 million.
One has to consider next the question of equipment for the new docks. What about the amenity blocks which are so necessary under the provisions of the Devlin Report? The size of the road has to be doubled. There is the question of paving which has not been allowed for. All that I can do is to pity the poor ratepayers of Bristol.
Next there is the question of the tonnage. In 1965 it reached a peak of nearly 9 million tons, but now it is down to 7½ million. I have here Lloyd's List of 3rd June of this year, and in an article headed "Bristol port trade slumps" it says:The Port of Bristol's trade in the last financial year dropped by more than 300,000 tons compared with the previous 12 months, the port authority was told today.One would think that this would not be regarded as the most propitious time at which to engage in a vast expansion scheme, with trade dropping like that. We admire enthusiasm—that is one thing—but there seems to be an element of irresponsibility here, and much harm could be done in the process.
Lloyd's List of 26th November, under the bold headline,Bristol and Avonmouth Docks. Port Authority makes first loss in 30 years,675 said:the shock news was released to members of the Docks Committee at a meeting in the boardroom of the P.B.A.'s headquarters on Avonmouth Docks.I should have thought that that would give cause for concern and call for a period in which to think things over a little.
But that is not the whole situation, because it appears that there are certain technical difficulties in Bristol. I have yet another reference from Lloyd's List of the same date. Captain Anthony Gibbons, the haven master, said:The trouble was sand waves. It became evident that if deep-draught ships were to approach early on the tide there might not be sufficient water for them even in mid-Channel.The report continues:The ever shifting waves of sand, some of them could be as high as 10 ft., were the cause of the trouble, said Captain Gibbons. Sometimes it was possible for them to cut the minimum depth of the approaches down to 34 ft. This could mean that a 25,000-ton ship might have to wait up to an hour after low water.The committee eventually gave the go-ahead for a full survey to be made of the Channel annually and agreed that surveys should be made of the more critical areas every four months.It seems to me that Bristol's optimism is full of shifting sands.
§ Mr. Coleman
Does my hon. Friend think that those conditions are conducive to the use of a port? Would shippers be prepared to use the port if their ships were continually going aground and their turn-round time was being lengthened considerably? Would he be prepared to comment on that?
§ Mr. Hughes
My hon. Friend is right. The journal from which I have quoted is the trade journal of shippers, which I am sure they read at breakfast every morning. This is an authoritative journal, and people who read it must be sceptical about this project.
I do not wish to pursue a vendetta against Bristol. I have always supported the Labour Government's policy that ports should be organised on the basis of public ownership so that investment policies can be properly co-ordinated. Towards the end of the last Parliament I spent 94 hours in Committee on the Ports 676 Bill, which the Conservative Party opposed every inch of the way. Unfortunately the General Election intervened, and that was a tragedy for our ports industry.
I invite the Minister to go to Bristol and put the true facts to the people there. Many people in Bristol are having second thoughts about this project. The Bristol Evening Post, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the West, asked in its leading article of 3rd June:Will West Dock ever be built?and went on to say:…we fear it may never be built. Opinion is hardening that Bristol will have to get itself 'off the hook'.…West Dock should not now be built simply because the Conservatives have honoured a pledge not to stand in its way.Circumstances have changed. Costs are escalating: what would have been £12 million is now £15 million and possibly £17 million by the time it is completed…We urge the P.B.A. to take a careful look afresh, especially at the new trends in the trade, before making a final decision.Those are my sentiments, too, and the message that should go out to Bristol from this House tonight is, think again.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward du Cann (Taunton)
I will not speak for more than a few moments. My excuse for doing so is two-fold. First, I have been long interested in this matter, and I remember giving an undertaking in Bristol that I would do my best to see that this scheme was prosecuted. I have believed in it and supported it from the beginning, and I did my utmost some time ago to interest senior friends of mine on these benches in the scheme, with the result that the then Leader of the Opposition gave the specific pledge to which the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) has just referred.
My second reason for intervening is that I badly want to comment upon the hon. Gentleman's speech. I tell him frankly that I strongly disagree with some of the things he said, and disagree equally strongly with the way in which he said them. I absolutely accept two points. First, he said—and he said he spoke honestly, and that is accepted—that he did not wish to pursue any kind of vendetta against the Port of Bristol. That is understood and accepted. Equally, 677 I hope that he will accept that persons like myself—and I do not represent a Bristol constituency—wish to pursue no kind of vendetta against the ports of South Wales, indeed, quite the reverse.
The story which the hon. Member for Newport told of the unemployment in these areas is a story which distresses us all. But I sympathise far more with the constructive attitude of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren) who spoke in suport of the Rill in telling terms in what was, with great respect, one of the best and most practical speeches I have heard in the House for a long time. He said that what he wanted to see and what Bristol wanted to see was an expansion of trade in the whole Bristol Channel. I am sure that is the right outlook to adopt, indeed it was a point which was taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King).
The purpose here surely is to ensure by all means prosperity, happiness and health for the great city of Bristol, but also to ensure growing trade in the Bristol Channel as a whole. As the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) said in a telling interventiton, this is not a party matter. I speak tonight not as a Conservative but as a practical man and as a West Country man, and I will amplify both those points.
Speaking as a practical man, as I hope I am, if this scheme goes ahead, I do not believe that it will be in any way a disaster for the South Wales ports. I certainly do not believe that it will bring about closures of South Wales ports. Furthermore, on the subject of commercial viability, I am perfectly satisfied with the figures I have seen deployed. The figures to which the hon. Gentleman referred—D.C.F. and the rest—seem to me, speaking as an investor, to make very good sense. This is a proper investment for anyone to make at the present time.
There are other substantial arguments in the scheme's favour. Being a fair-minded man, would the hon. Gentleman really say, if he intends to oppose this proposal in the Division Lobby, that he does not want the Port of Bristol to replace its obsolescent equipment? That surely could neither be fair nor wise. Is he saying that the Port of Bristol has not done its homework effectively? From 678 all the information I have seen over a long period, it seems to me that it has done its homework extremely efficiently. Indeed, the obtaining of several reports from different consultants, the depth of investigation into the matter, the flexibility of the scheme and its economy prove precisely that the homework has been extremely well done. Learning as we do from the case advanced by my hon. Friend and by others that ship-owners will be saved money, that the cost of road haulage will be reduced and so on, does the hon. Gentleman, or anyone else, object to that? We spent the whole of Monday discussing the appalling rise in the cost of living. Reducing costs is surely a meritorious ambition to have for our nation.
Considering the volume of traffic going through the Port of Bristol at present, is it right that so little money should have been spent on the port in the past? I thought how moderate my hon. Friend was in not complaining that Bristol has suffered in the past because not enough money has been spent there. That is an answer to the point of cost made by the hon. Member for Newport.
I share his anxieties for his constituents. I admire his local patriotism, but do we really have adequate and sufficient port facilities for all time in the future? If I may again refer to Monday's debate, we were all asking, I no less than anyone else on these benches, for a degree of stimulus to be given to the economy. I repeat what I said then, that it is a crime when our people are out of work and when we have underutilised capacity. It is the anxiety of us all to see, particularly if we go into the Common Market, and even if we do not, that our economy expands. We cannot have too many efficient and effective ports.
I said that I would speak as a West Country man. I have a small quarrel with my hon. Friend about his otherwise excellent speech. He spoke so well about the possibilities for the Port of Bristol, and indeed the South Wales ports, of bringing down goods from Birmingham, the industrial Midlands, the North and London, but he failed to mention the tremendous significance that the development of the Port of Bristol will have for the West Country in general. We urgently 679 need that part to be developed. The rate of unemployment in Cornwall and some parts of Devon are just as great as they are in South Wales. We share a common problem, and it is in the interests of us all to have the best facilities possible to encourage a growing volume of trade in this country.
The hon. Member for Newport and his hon. Friends will wish, very properly, to do their utmost for their areas. Do, I beg them, allow us to do the utmost in what we believe to be the national interest and perhaps the interests of the West Country. I hope that they will not think it right to pursue their opposition to this practical constructive Measure too far tonight.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)
My hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes), who spoke with his usual determination on this subject, said that he believed in the public ownership of ports. So do I, and, of course, Bristol is a publicly-owned port. I believe I am right in saying that it is the largest municipal trading enterprise in the country. When he quotes the relatively minor business figure of Mr. Terry Bryant in aid of his case, he should think of those considerable figures of the Labour movement in Bristol who have given so much to building up the Port of Bristol Authority. The present Chairman is a Conservative, Councillor Wright, but the Chairman for many years was a greatly respected Socialist in Bristol, Alderman Arthur Parish.
§ Mr. McBride
I had supposed that we were not arguing on party political lines. This is an economic argument, but I have heard no economic thesis advanced.
§ Mr. Palmer
I have hardly got three sentences out—give me an opportunity. I entirely agree, but I am just taking up, quite fairly, the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport: He quotes, for all I know, a member of the Monday Club, though I know nothing of his politics, in aid of his argument. I am saying that the Bristol Labour movement and many respected Labour figures in Bristol who have given greater service to the Port of Bristol Authority, are on record as supporting the West Dock scheme. I was anxious 680 to preserve a political balance but I would now much prefer to move to the arguments.
I took part in the debate when Mr. Richard Marsh was the Minister of Transport. On that occasion we lost the debate in the sense that we were outvoted. I thought that a pity, and I expressed my opinion through the channels to which I had access—that it was a pity the Whips were put on on that occasion. But looking back through the record of that debate, no one would say that we were out-argued. The substantial reason why the Minister turned it down on that occasion was not wasteful use of resources, but because, as he said, the rate of return on the capital proposed to be employed was not high enough. But he conceded then that if national circumstances had been a little easier, marginally there was not much in it and Bristol would have had the benefit of the doubt.
§ Mr. Palmer
No, I certainly do not think that it is now better. But on that occasion the Minister did not turn it down because it was a wasteful use of resources but because of the return on capital on his calculations. This is a modified scheme compared with the earlier scheme.
On the previous occasion, I thought that the decision had been influenced by some pressure from South Wales; quite legitimate pressure, but it influenced the decision. Also there was possibly influence from other ports, including London.
The speech of my hon. Friend gives support to the view that South Wales remains irreconcilable, bringing all the pressure that it can against the further development of Bristol. I do not complain about that, but they are wrong and badly wrong. I say that with the greatest sincerity. Bristol, by keeping port facilities up to date, by resisting obsolescence, which one must do all the time, and by modernising, contributes to the prosperity of Severnside generally. That cannot be doubted.
I am sure that my hon. Friend has studied the recent report on Severnside and upon its future development. In 681 years to come, both the Welsh and the Saxon shores of Severnside will be growth areas. Severnside can hope to grow without any stimulation to 60,000 people by the turn of the century; with stimulation and planned development, which I should prefer to see, the growth rate would be up to 1 million extra. In those circumstances, need we fear because we are passing through a recession? I agree with my hon. Friend that the Government are mainly responsible for it, but I cannot believe that it will last for ever; I hope not. The prosperity of Severnside in the long run is bound to be linked with that of the country generally and when the prosperity of the country revives, so will Severside's prosperity. There is plenty of room for all to grow and to prosper without these small rivalries that should properly belong to the past.
The point has not so far been made that surely the trade of the Welsh ports as against Bristol, even on the present basis, is largely complementary in terms of commodities. Coal, iron, steel, and tinplate; those are the substances which come out of Wales. With Bristol it is grain, fertilisers and wood pulp. As the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Du Cann) said, these products in part serve the agriculture of the South-West generally. With commodities and trade the two sides of the Channel are largely complementary. With planned and organised development in the future they could continue to be complementary. On timber there may be some coincidence of interest, but South-Wales has been winning with timber, so in spite of the difficulties that the Welsh ports appear to have, they have perhaps successfully taken some timber trade away from Bristol.
Earlier I deliberately used the word "modernising" of the Port of Bristol, rather than the extension of it. It involves some extension, but it is mainly modernisation; it is also maintenance in a sense. It is the best way in which to consider what is proposed. The present scheme is different from the earlier one. It is a very moderate scheme. On the first cost it will be less. My hon. Friend referred to the effects of inflation, but inflation applies to everything and not just to this item of expenditure. In first cost this is very much a modified scheme, 682 and it takes account of container operations in a way that the earlier West Dock scheme did not. Also, there are to be no elaborate warehouses or other dock facilities of that kind. It is intended that those using the docks will provide these facilities for themselves. In short, the scheme takes account of the changing methods of port operation.
If we do not implement the scheme in Bristol, Bristol will fall back. My hon. Friend was very concerned about the Bristol ratepayers. Many of us are concerned about them, and they are very concerned about us, too. But I should have thought that the Bristol rates are primarily a matter for the citizens of Bristol, who have to pay them. Unless one takes the view that all port planning must be done centrally—no nationalised industry takes that view when planning its resources—one must leave this question to those who manage the Bristol port, who are responsible, being elected representatives, directly to the electors. The Bill only applies for powers, and it is for Bristol, having the powers, to use them as it considers right.
As I say, I am obliged to my hon. Friend for his concern about Bristol's finances. There is plenty of healthy controversy in Bristol over costs and over rates. This will continue between the parties. They are united on the principle, but they will certainly argue on the costs. The estimated rate of return has been given, and one can always argue about rates of return. But with this kind of work and activity, one often has to provide the facilities in the first place and then to hope and to work for the trade to take advantage of them. One cannot always do it the other way round by market estimation and all the rest. There must be an element of faith in the future. I do not see why we should apologise for having faith.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
When public investment capital is a scarce national resource and there are many competing demands for it, is it not legitimate to use whatever meaningful criteria are available to decide between the most suitable investment projects? This is why the country cannot afford utterly to ignore this consideration.
§ Mr. Palmer
That argument is not unfamiliar to me. It is an argument 683 well known to economists. I am an engineer by profession. My difficulty is that I am a victim of economists. The economic experts can be wrong on these things. It is necessary to have faith in the future and to be optimistic. We should do our sums but should not be misled by them as certainties to the future.
The National Ports Council has approved the scheme, as it approved the earlier scheme. The present Minister has given the scheme his approval, and I am obliged to him for that. I only wish Mr. Richard Marsh had given his permission. I think he made a great mistake in not doing so.
I accept the sincerity of my Welsh friends but Bristol has been patient, going back to the first Portbury scheme when the City Council was Labour-controlled. We have been patient over the years. We have been painstaking, also! In these circumstances, it is hard to see that we can be refused approval for the Bill tonight. I suggest that the House should give Bristol authority to proceed with this Measure, knowing that Bristol has a great past and, certainly in the view of us who are proud to represent the city, a great future as well.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
I intervene in the debate for two reasons. First, as a West Country Member my constituency of Chippenham is directly affected by the future prosperity of Bristol, Second, I have an interest in national transport policy. For both reasons, I feel strongly that the Bill should receive a Second Reading.
I imagine that hon. Members on both sides have studied the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee in another place in March of this year, when the Bill was discussed for over a week. As I read the evidence through, I became completely persuaded that an overwhelming case had been made out. It is not easy to summarise the case in a ten-minute speech.
Bristol has reached a point of historic decision. As the Chairman of the Port of Bristol Authority said in answer to the Select Committee:After 1,000 years of development by our citizens our port now stands at the crossroads. in my Council's view all the economic and 684 technical evidence shows that it must either develop or it must decline. It cannot continue into the future indefinitely in its present state.Hon. Members opposite who are opponents of the scheme may well ask why Bristol must have a new dock; why not simply improve and modernise the existing facilities? The answer is simple. A new dock is easier, it is better, and in the long run it would be cheaper. This view has been supported by the National Ports Council. I quote from what it said in its letter to the Minister dated 8th August, 1970, part of which was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren):We accordingly accept that a new dock on a new site is the only sensible way to proceed, despite the fact that because of the necessity for a new lock, the scheme is relatively expensive as compared with cases where an existing lock can be utilised or as compared with those where it is possible to proceed piecemeal. Fortunately, in the West Dock scheme the effect of the initial investment in the lock on the economics of the scheme, has been moderated by the employment of new techniques of lock and quay wall construction, resulting in the scheme comparing favourably in terms of cost per linear foot of quay with other schemes considered by the Council.Therefore, the Ports Council is thoroughly behind the scheme.
I can summarise the letter by saying that modernisation now is not enough. A new scheme is required. Bristol has spent on the average over £1 million a year during the last ten years trying to modernise the facilities. Surely there comes a time when modernising existing facilities is no longer a practical proposition. That time has now come. Indeed, I believe that it came six years ago. No wonder that there is a great sense of frustration in the City of Bristol today.
The Portbury scheme, costing £28 million, was turned down in 1966, but what the Labour Government said to Bristol at that time was, "Go away and think again, and produce a smaller scheme". This Bristol did, and in 1967 a considerably smaller scheme costing nearly £15 million was put forward. On that occasion, the National Ports Council supported it. A Bill passed through the other place. Then the Minister, as we have been reminded today, refused his consent and the Bill was defeated in this House.
Now, on this third occasion, a new scheme has been produced. Consulting 685 engineers and international management consultants have been brought in. This time, the Minister, as well as the National Ports Council, supports the scheme. The Select Committee of the other place supported it, having listened to all the objections from the various petitioners.
I feel that it would be tragic if the House of Commons did not give the Bill a Second Reading tonight. I realise, of course, that the cost is large—£12 million—but one must remember that it is to be spread over a 50-year period, and it is expected to show a return of about 12 per cent., or possibly more. I agree with the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) that these figures are somewhat speculative—I am not an economist either—but the experts say that there will be a reasonable return on the money over the period.
Two points of national rather than local significance should be emphasised. Both have been touched on already. First, there is the question of roads. Bristol is at the intersection of the M4 and M5, which give access to the Midlands and to London. I am glad to say—or, rather, I hope—that the M4 will be open to London within a year. We have been pressing for it long enough in my area. This will be of tremendous importance because good communications are vital to the future of a port.
The consultants estimate that the reduced cost of road haulage, compared with Tilbury, Southampton or Liverpool, could be £200,000 a year This is a large and significant figure, and they estimate also that the cost of delays caused by congestion in the berths would be greatly reduced.
§ Mr. McBride
I think that the hon. Gentleman is inadvertently misleading the House. In the evidence before the Select Committee in the other place, it was not said that £200,000 would be saved. The consultants' report said that £200,000 could be saved, and there is an air of the problematical about it.
§ Mr. Awdry
What was said before the Select Commitee was that if one could cut 50 per cent. off the delay caused by congestion in the berths, this was calculated to save another £200,000 on top of the £200,000 referred to on the road haulage point. If that be right, the figures capitalised over a period of 20 years would produce a saving of over £3 million, a considerable sum, which would go quite a long way towards paying for the whole scheme.
Bristol has not been a lavish spender in recent years. It handles 2½ per cent. of all traffic tonnage and during the last few years has averaged only 1½ per cent. of total capital expenditure. It seems not inequitable, therefore, that it should now go forward with this scheme. No one could complain that Bristol was receiving exceptional or preferential treatment.
The citizens and the council of Bristol have never varied since 1963 in their desire for a major development, whatever political party has for the time being been in power. They feel that this scheme is vital to the prosperity of Bristol and of the whole region. As a Wiltshireman, I am, naturally, concerned that the wealth of the South-West Region should expand. If that is to happen. New industries must grow throughout the region. Obviously, these new industries will require raw materials, some of them imported. These new industries will need to export, and many industries in my own constituency now have a fine export record.
The whole South-West Region needs a successful port of Bristol. This debate is, therefore, crucial to the future not only of Bristol but of all the people who live in the South-West Region.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
When I went to Bristol on an official visit a few years ago, I was told that of the total exports passing out of Bristol and its area only one-third were exported via the port of Bristol and that other ports were used. That suggests that the scheme is not all that essential to the prosperity of the area does it not?
§ Mr. Awdry
The answer is that over the coming years Bristol will indeed be used on an increasing scale by many new industries in the area. The hon. Gentleman may well be right when he speaks of the past, and I do not dispute his 687 figure, but I know that firms in my constituency will welcome an expanding and successful port in Bristol. Bristol has made out its case tonight and I shall be relieved and delighted when the Bill receives its Second Reading.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
Before coming to the main argument, I wish to refer to the statement issued above the signature of the agents for the promoters which was sent to hon. Members today. ' It says:It is also submitted that the merits of the Bill raise issues which cannot conveniently be discussed in detail on the Floor of the House.I considered whether to raise that as a point of order, since there is an impertinent inference in the statement. If the Bill is not discussed in detail here the effect on the South Wales ports and the Welsh nation will not be known. It is an impertinent assumption of arrogance by the promoters, ignoring the importance of discussion on the Floor of the House. That will be apparent to no one more than to the Minister.
My counter-submission is made as of right and in logic, that the House is a national forum where the Bill can be discussed openly and clearly. Any other course would deny the objectors their inalienable right to be heard.
§ Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)
I am certain that that statement is not intended in any way to be impertinent or to take away the right of the House to discuss the Bill for as long as it cares. The point the circular is trying to make is that what we are deciding is a matter of principle as to whether the Bill should proceed. The detailed consideration of any Bill, line by line and Clause by Clause, takes place in Committee, as the hon. Gentleman must know after all the years he has sat in the House. The circular is referring to the detail. We are deciding the principle as to whether the Bill should be given a Second Reading, and nobody is suggesting that we should not.
§ Mr. McBride
When I want a lesson in parliamentary procedure the hon. Gentleman is the last person I shall go to. No statements of that kind should be made on the Second Reading of the Bill. It is impertinent of the promoters' 688 agents to say that. I have the right to say so, and I hold to it.
We quarrel with the statement in lines 10–13 of the Preamble, because we believe that it is not expedient that the Corporation of Bristol should be empowered to construct the new dock and other works authorised by the Bill if it is passed. The project will be injurious to South Wales and its ports, and therefore it is not expedient, because the facilities on the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel are not being fully utilised.
It will be necessary to contest many of the financial assumptions and the whole question of expending £12 million on what I believe to be redundant port capacity at Bristol. I am probably the only hon. Member who has worked in the docks of this country. Therefore, I can say that I know something about the subject. I shall contest the provisions of Clause 31. My argument is that harm will ensue to the viability of the South Wales ports, with special reference to the port of Swansea, which is represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) and myself. I oppose the Bill on the grounds that hardship will ensue to the port. The continued viability of a seaport is of paramount interest to all who live and work in a city such as Swansea. I oppose on the grounds that Swansea's trading prospects will be damaged if the proposal is brought to fruition.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
Does my hon. Friend agree that Swansea has already suffered from the competition with Bristol in that the Imperial Smelting Works in Swansea has been closed in favour of keeping open the works in the Bristol area?
§ Mr. McBride
My hon. Friend is quite right. I speak with feeling, because that involved the closing down of the zinc smelter in my constituency, which we established nearly one hundred years ago, and 680 jobs were lost in order that the work could go to the smelting works owned by the Imperial Smelting Corporation at Avonmouth. It will be appreciated that I have a great deal of personal feeling on this subject. I will oppose the Bill on the ground that its financial projections are unsoundly based and that £12 million is not a realistic figure for a project of this nature.
689 I oppose it on the ground that the project is too highly speculative and that in giving approval to the raising of the money the Government were motivated by political considerations, and no one knows that better than the Minister, in that the decision was reached not on economic grounds, but as a political sub to Bristol for a promise was made before the election, and I leave the political content there.
I oppose it on the ground that public opinion in Swansea is solidly behind opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill. I quote an editorial in the South Wales Evening Post of 7th January when the leader writer said:It is abundantly clear that the Bristol proposal, if it succeeds, could seriously affect the trade of the South Wales ports as a whole. Suggestions that the Government is politically committed to allowing the scheme to go through should not be permitted to stand in the way of wholehearted opposition.That is clear and definitive.
A leader in a Bristol paper which I have never seen before, the Western Daily Press, says today that Bristol is the port closest to the Americas; so did the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren). He must be speaking from geographical expediency to say that, because Swansea is the nearest, and if he looks at a map, he will see it proved. Allowing for the extra distance from Swansea to Bristol and remembering that a tide may be missed on the way, shipping to and from Bristol could mean taking another day each way. This is a harsh lesson of economics.
§ Mr. McBride
The late Edgar Wallace was a master of imagination and he had an apt pupil in the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West.
We know the opinion of the council and people of Swansea, who have never been afraid of fair competition, but who feel that in this matter a decision has been reached injurious to the prospects of the city and all the South Wales ports. The Bill is promoted by the lord mayor, aldermen and burgesses of Bristol. The response of the ratepayers of the city of Bristol at the two statutory meetings promoted by the council has been less than enthusiastic. The first meeting, on 12th December, last year, was postponed because 690 the weather was inclement. When the meeting was held subsequently, out of a population of 427,238, 88 ratepayers attended. The burning enthusiasm for the proposal is tremendous! When a vote was taken, 83 to three were in favour of the proposal. That can hardly be described as overwhelming support for the project.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes
Is not the gross tonnage handled by Bristol just over seven million while that handled by Swansea is considerably more?
§ Mr. McBride
The Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment will recall my initiating an Adjournment debate when I said that Swansea handled over eight million tons. We should like to better that. We have the highly professional management, the workers and the facilities—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) may make his speech later; until then he should keep quiet. I am reminded of a saying that good manners are for the Labour Party and not the Tory Party, and the hon. Gentleman is ample proof of that.
The council committee dealing with the matter is trading as the Bristol Port Authority. It has powers delegated to it from the council, but these powers do not include financial matters and matters relating to property, and that is important. The powers do not include financial matters. Trade through Bristol is declining. One admires people who are trying to achieve increased trade. This is referred to in the evidence given before the House of Lords Select Committee in March.
But, in all the arguments adduced tonight, nothing has been said about the economic argument. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West skated clear of it. He knew that he had no case. He could not say that it was sound or logical economically to promote the facts relevant to this matter. He dodged the issue.
§ Mr. McLaren rose—
§ Mr. McBride
I will give way later.
Bristol has been less than just in this matter. The hon. Member for Chippenham made no reference to the economic argument. The right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), who is expert in financial matters, did not say that he would invest in the project. Advice is 691 cheap but investment is another thing. The cost of the dock—
§ Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann). If the hon. Gentleman will study HANSARD tomorrow, he will see that my right hon. Friend said that this was a sound and good investment into which he would advise anybody to put money.
§ Mr. McBride
The hon. Gentleman is truthful and I do not doubt what he says. But the right hon. Member for Taunton did not say how much he would invest in it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ask him."] I will if he returns to the Chamber.
The cost of the dock is estimated at £12 million, but it is believed that in the final accounting it will be much more. But the costs do not include the financial outlay involved in providing the superstructure and equipment for the dock. That is clear from Clause 31 dealing with the funding arrangements. No provision has been made in the estimate for the cost of transit sheds and cargo-handling equipment, and this additional financial load must be added to the £12 million which the Government have given permission to be raised, plus escalation and plus interest servicing of the loan. The citizens of Bristol will be saddled with a heavy burden for years to come.
Is the Bristol City Council naive in the extreme to suppose that shipowners will scream with delight at a dock minus equipment and devoid of handling equipment and transit sheds with no storage warehouses? This is what it is asking money for—to build just a dock. In my opinion, shipowners will view the prospect with great distaste.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
Does my hon. Friend agree that a singular inconsistency in the argument is that the superstructure provision cannot be made until it is known precisely what quantity and type of trade there will be, and yet hon. Members opposite say that it is possible to do a meaningful D.C.F. because they can predict what quantity and type of trade there will be.
§ Mr. McBride
That is an important point. I shall later quote the statement 692 of a municipal treasurer of 33 years' experience which bears out precisely what my hon. Friend said. There is a high degree of hypothesis in the claims of the promoters of the Bill.
The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) mentioned a saving of £200,000 per annum. This is in the realm of the problematical. He mentioned road haulage. It has been said that the motorway network could be worth another £200,000 per annum and that the net value to industry and shipowners is £3.4 million at 10 per cent. over 20 years. It is held to be a saving to the nation, but Bristol has yet to obtain the traffic and the operation of the dock and there is no financial superstructure prior to the commencement of the business operation. Is there anyone here from the business world who would say that that is a sound, logical argument to put in a prospectus? No one.
The moneys for this project are to be raised in the open market or will be found through the consolidated loans fund of the City of Bristol, but there is a clear risk here to investors, as there is no industrial expansion in the neighbourhood of the dock site. I consider that the first requisite of success in a venture of this description is the presence or at least the promise of a large industrial concentration in the vicinity of a site such as this. These arguments are fully borne out in the volumes of evidence to the Select Committee in the House of Lords.
If the City of Bristol is to go to the open market, Swansea, Newport, Barry require capital, and it must be remembered that these undertakings are owned by the British Transport Docks Board—publicly owned—and none of these undertakings is able to go to the ratepayers to raise money. Therefore, the approval by the Government of Bristol's raising £12 million plus the additional moneys required is an unfair advantage to Bristol in this connection. What is more, I cannot resist the remark that the Tory Government do not like publicly-owned enterprise. It is inevitable that, should the Bill be passed, there will be long periods for repayment of moneys raised by the citizens of Bristol.
The question is posed: will the new dock pay? We have heard the assertion that it will. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West said so. He had no facts to 693 give about that; he led none to the House.
§ Mr. McLaren
The hon. Member accuses me of having dodged the economic issue. He will remember that I stated that this project had been studied by expert consultants in all its aspects, and that they are sure, in their professional opinion, that the rate of return would be between 12 per cent. and 16 per cent. That is regarded as a satisfactory figure. As the hon. Member is also speaking about public enterprise, I remind him that we are discussing a public enterprise, the Port of Bristol Authority.
§ Mr. McBride
Not an enterprise owned by the nation. As to the first point made by the hon. Member, that it is highly satisfactory that 12 per cent. to 16 per cent. would accrue, surely he realises that this is disputed by highly reputable financial authorities?
§ Mr. McBride
We come now to the size of ships which go to the port of Bristol. There are zinc concentrates coming from Australia. This new dock is to accommodate ships of 65,000 tons, but the ships which bring in the zinc concentrates from Australia cannot be larger than 17,000 tons as the Australian sources of zinc cannot take larger ships. Then there is phosphate rock, which comes to Bristol from Africa in 15,000-ton ships, which is the largest size of ship which the dock facilities can take, but when it comes from Florida the size of ship is 30,000 tons, which is the maximum size in the Florida Keys. Despite this, Bristol Dock Committee seeks to construct a dock for 65,000-ton ships.
The new dock, it is hoped, will yield a quick return, but what the promoters have failed to say is that the dock will be in competition with the main bulk carrier ports of the United Kingdom. This is borne out in volume 3, page 25, of the evidence given in the House of Lords. Therefore accuracy in the estimation of the financial return is of first importance.
We now come to the question of Bristol's estimate of the money to be paid for the loan. Bristol says that through its consolidated loans fund it will pay an average rate of 6495 per cent. for this 694 money. But that is the average struck for all interest servicing of all Bristol's loans. The depreciation of interest is caused by many factors, one of which is the servicing of £2 million carried on at 3 per cent. It is a mere book-keeping transaction. The true position as at 31st March last, with new money borrowed for this project, is that Bristol would have to pay 9½ per cent. on the open market and that the £12 million would be borrowed on that basis.
The initial assertion that 6.495 per cent. is all that will be paid is made because the money to be raised as capital for the new dock is merged with capital accounts on other funds such as housing and education. It has been clearly established that Bristol, if wishing to establish the viability of this project, will seek to claim to be described as a container port; but it will never be a large container port. It seeks to take in containers and forward the goods to other ports by rail.
In another direction the claim is made that Bristol Corporation, should a new dock be constructed, would make a saving of £9 million in the first 25 years, plus another £5 million on its other installations. That cannot be done. Mr. Stanley William Hill, in his evidence before the House of Lords Select Committee, commented on this. Mr. Hill, who is by profession a municipal treasurer, has 37 years' experience as financial adviser to local authorities. In the light of that statement, one must query the accuracy and soundness of the theory that Bristol will be saving £14 million by an investment of £12 million. Much of the case for the Bill is based on an estimate of traffic such as grain and molasses for a period of 50 years ahead. But economists hesitate to predict for more than five years ahead. They will tell you that to do so is guesswork. Economists in this House will, I am sure, say that. Yet Bristol makes this estimate to the House of Lords Select Committee, and it is wrong. It is sheer speculation beyond the period I have mentioned. The estimate is based on high dock due paying categories of goods. Mr. Hill suggests that the estimate should be cut by one-third, and he is a financial expert.
This is not the first proposal made for a dock extension. I opposed the initial one. It, too, met considerable opposition from the South Wales ports. We in 695 Swansea are interested. We have a first-class port which could become, with Government capital, a first-class continental port, a Europort. The threat to the trade and, therefore, to the life of the community in Swansea is very real. It is the job of my hon. Friends and myself to put this to the House and to oppose the Bill. One must emphasise that the prosperity of a seaport city such as Swansea must impinge on the life of everyone at some point. That is one of the reasons why Swansea City Council opposes the proposals contained in the Bill. It follows, therefore, that we in South Wales oppose the Bill. Reading through the evidence given to the Select Committee, there can be no doubt that the threat exists and is menacing to the future viability of Swansea. We must ask ourselves whether there is going to be an increase in trade in the Bristol Channel area in the foreseeable future. With the South Wales ports working hard to attract new traffic, are the facilities going to be used to the full?
§ Mr. Emery
I understand the apparent fear of Swansea Members in wanting to defend the trading rights of their own port. However, I do not understand their argument as a matter of logic. Outward trade in the Swansea Docks is in a ratio of six-to-one. That outward trade totals 6.6 million a year, 95 per cent. of which is made up of iron and steel, coal, coke briquettes and bunker traffic. What proportion of that trade does the hon. Gentleman see being lost to a new or extended Bristol dock?
§ Mr. McBride
The hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) is himself a genius in the manner in which he makes his lengthy interruptions. We are seriously concerned since we have lost our inward trade of nickel and zinc concentrates. We have a very real fear that if there is 696 only a certain amount of trade and there is an ensuing price war, South Wales will suffer. The new dock at Bristol will compete for the existing trade. If Bristol is unable to get its share of trade, then Bristol will engage in a trade battle with the South Wales ports. The situation is as clear as it can be. This was mentioned before the Select Committe in another place and was not contested. One of the witnesses said that this was inevitable.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes
Would my hon. Friend not agree that the whole crux of the South Wales case is that our ports are under-used? The attack on the South Wales ports would be in relation to their existing trade and the trade which we are trying to secure from the Midlands and the South-East. This is where the competition from Bristol would be felt.
§ Mr. McBride
If Bristol were unable to get its fair share of trade, then a price cutting war would ensue, and I agree with my hon. Friend that the facilities in the South Wales ports are being underused. We believe that the margin of profit and loss in the South Wales ports is small, and this is undeniably true of Swansea. The viability of Swansea has also been harmed by the Government's new rating proposals. Competition in a fair way is to be welcomed, but competition from the new complex at Bristol—helped by an unfair subsidy in the sense that a subvention can be obtained from the city of Bristol rates, which is not the situation in regard to the Swansea docks—is unfair and unnecessary. The success of the Bristol project will inevitably mean great loss to the other ports.
I share the regret expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) is not present. The petitioners before the House of Lords Select Committee were Swansea, Newport and Barry.
I share the resentment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) at the fact that no member of the Welsh Office has seen fit to be present. I appreciate that the Minister for Transport Industries is a West Country man. However, in view of the importance of this matter to the whole South Wales seaboard, a Welsh Minister should have been present, and I join 697 with my hon. Friends in voicing my disappointment at the lack of representation of the Welsh Office.
§ Mr. McBride
I am not attacking my Welsh colleagues. In any event, providing that I keep within the rules of order, I shall present the case as the Welsh see it and not as the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) wishes to put it.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is not it normal for the Chair to call Members alternately according to whether they support or oppose the project under discussion? We have made no complaint about the disproportionate number of hon. Members speaking in support of the Bill. We accept that hon. Members presenting Bristol constituencies have the right to speak. However, the position verges on the impossible when an hon. Member attempts to deny the rights of what is only the second speech in opposition.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. The Chair tries to be fair to both sides and to all shades of opinion. But sometimes it is difficult to collect the various shades of opinion, especially when they cut across the parties. The Chair does its best.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes
My hon. Friend has complained about the Welsh Ministers not being present. Is not he aware that there is a by-election in progress and that the Secretary of State for Wales is Chairman of the Conservative Party? Does not my hon. Friend feel that the right hon. Gentleman should get his priorities right?
§ Mr. McBride
Yes, I do. The by-election had slipped my mind. Unlike me, the right hon. Gentleman has not a single Welsh vote which sends him to this House.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East, complained about my presentation 698 of the Welsh argument. I remind him that this project creates a situation where one side of the Bristol Channel is in opposition to the other.
The right hon. Member for Taunton is here. I understand that he has said that people should invest in Bristol. However, I believe that he only advised other people to invest, and that he will not be investing himself. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that.
The fear is prevalent in Swansea and other South Wales ports that the decision to allow Bristol to raise £12 million on the open market is not based on any evidence showing an honest estimate of a reasonable return on the capital invested in the project as defined in the Bill. In another context, the decision is purely political and takes no account of the impost which will have to be shouldered by the citizens of Bristol. It ignores the fact that Bristol's hinterland is quite inadequate to support the project as it has been planned. Evidence led in the other place showed clearly that all the estimates of earnings of the new dock beyond five years were totally meaningless and pure speculation. The project would be built on the shifting sands of speculation. For that reason alone, it must be unsound.
Today, we see a massive and swift change in the types of ships engaged in maritime trade. This applies to all countries engaged in this trade. Is is to be held as evidenced fact that progress in ship construction must wait for Bristol? We all know that the answer is "No". Bristol has no control over the sizes and types of ships using the Bristol Channel, now or in the future. The future ship probably will not be a vessel of 65,000 tons, but something bigger, lying in deep water, to which smaller ships will be sent to off-load the cargo.
I mentioned this possibility in the course of my Adjournment Debate on the future potential of Swansea Docks. There are more practical grounds to support this than exist to support the viability of the Bristol West Dock scheme as defined in the Bill. The Bristol scheme envisages ships of 65,000 tons. However, with container ships and bulk carriers, the world shipping trade is such that the Bristol project is a non-starter.
699 Then again, is it in the national interest to spend this money on the Bristol project? In my view, the South Wales ports clearly have the right to say that they have an interest in this regard. They are modern in techniques and equipment, and public money has been invested in them. Is that money now to be wasted? Proceeding with the Bristol project would be a prime example of a waste of public money. It would also ignore the national interest. Swansea is conscious of and appreciates the modernisation of the docks and equipment owned by the British Transport Docks Board and the highly professional management of the Port of Swansea. Must we set all this at risk by the possibility of a trade war caused by a cutting of the rates with the establishment of the new dock in Bristol? If permission is granted for raising the money the project will be a negation of all the rules of business and will be a purely political decision.
Swansea City Council's standing in the matter was questioned in another place, as was mine only a short time ago. Swansea has an important interest, and clearly the nation has an interest. The best interests of all will be served by rejecting the Bill.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ The Minister for Transport Industries (Mr. John Peyton)
It might be of some help to the House if I intervene at this stage.
The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) has spoken at length and with conviction about the Tightness of his cause. I doubt whether he has been able to convince those on the other side of the argument that he has justice with him. Towards the end of his speech he observed that a good deal of public money had been invested in the South Wales ports. No one would wish to contest that. One of the arguments put forward by those who believe that Bristol should at least get a fair crack of the whip is that it is Bristol's turn now.
§ Mr. Peyton
No. I do not wish to speak at great length, because a number of hon. Members whose constituencies are deeply involved wish to speak, and the hon. Member for Swansea, East has just 700 taken a considerable time. I should at least like to launch into the few remarks I want to make.
The hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes), in a somewhat un-neigh-bourly speech, gave the impression that he was separated from Bristol by a great deal more distance than merely the Bristol Channel. I appreciate that he feels strongly for his constituents in this matter, but I believe that he might have observed the need to hold a balance of fairness. Bristol, an ancient city with a long tradition of being a port, is entitled to have its views weighed. There is a feeling, just as strong as anything expressed by the hon. Gentleman, that Bristol has claim to public attention now.
I endorse the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) who said that Bristol had done its work on this project, and he recommended it as a good investment.
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) drew attention to the patience which had been displayed by Bristol. I should like to acknowledge the determination which has been shown by Bristol, and particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Northwest (Mr. McLaren), who has shown an unswerving determination to lose no opportunity to forward Bristol's cause. As he said, this is Bristol's third attempt to achieve some valuable and meaningful progress. I doubt whether any scheme has been so thoroughly grilled as this one. First, there was the original Portbury scheme which was turned down; secondly there was the first version of the West Dock scheme, which was again rejected; and, finally, there is this second version of the West Dock scheme.
Happily, some technical improvements have considerably improved the position, and whereas there was an estimated return on capital of between 2¾ per cent. and 4½ per cent. in the first version, at a cost of £14¾ million, we now have a considerably improved situation, with the cost being £12 million, and a return on capital, which has been fairly well checked over by consultants, of between 12 per cent. and 16 per cent. The National Ports Council has taken a more cautious view and suggested that perhaps the return will be between 8 per cent. and 14 per cent., but nevertheless one which, in its view, fully justifies the project.
701 I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) intends to take part in the debate. At the moment, he is engaged in earnest conversation with his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt recall that the Administration of which he was a member, in its 1966 White Paper, invited the National Ports Council to consider alternatives to the Portbury scheme. The first version of the West Dock scheme was somewhat suspect. It is the second version that we are now considering, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to agree that the proposition which has been put forward deserves the serious consideration of himself and anybody else who speaks for his party.
§ Mr. George Thomas
The right hon. Gentleman is probably aware that the overwhelming economic advice to the previous Administration was against approving the scheme, and that is why Dick Marsh, as the Minister responsible, announced his decision to the House.
§ Mr. Peyton
I have no idea what economic advice was tendered to the previous Administration. I may be left with the inevitable, unavoidable possibility of concluding that the advice was bad. But the point here—and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should have missed this, but he was deeply wrapped up in a discussion with his hon. Friend—is that since the first West Dock scheme there has been a considerable improvement in the economic prospects of this project, and I repeat the figures which I gave to the House a moment ago.
Whereas under the first scheme there was a cost of £14¾ million, and an estimated yield of between 2¾ per cent. and 4½ per cent., we are now faced with something quite different, a cost of just over £12 million, and a return on capital of between 12 per cent. and 16 per cent. It is true that the National Ports Council has modified the estimate—
§ Mr. Alan Williams
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not have a copy of the Bill, but I understand that we are dealing with the possible expenditure of £12 million. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the project will cost over £12 million. This is of great importance to the House. 702 Exactly what are we being asked to approve?
§ Mr. Peyton
I do not think the hon. Gentleman would wish to be weighed by that sort of point.
The point that I am making is that there is an expenditure of about £12 million, which is a reduction from the first scheme, with an estimated return of between 12 per cent. and 16 per cent. The National Ports Council, being more prudent, has estimated the return at between 8 per cent. and 14 per cent., but it is nevertheless one which, in the opinion of the Government, warrants proceeding with the scheme.
I speak as no partisan tonight. It is only fair that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who very properly represent the interests and anxieties of South Wales—and I accept that these are genuine anxieties—should also understand that Bristol has a view here. Bristol is faced with the situation that the city docks are far up the river, inaccessible and a source of loss, and that Avonmouth has no possibility for expansion. Avonmouth Docks suffer considerable congestion, to a degree which is bound to turn the customers and the users away. This is a stern choice for a city with a long history in the operation of a great port—
§ Mr. Roy Hughes rose—
§ Mr. Peyton
I am sorry, I am in the middle of my speech. This is a stern choice for Bristol. Bristol faces either a long period of expensive obsolescence or, alternatively, it will make up its mind to go forward, as it is convinced that the economics of the project offers it an opportunity of doing.
In my view, facing the issue as I did, there were two grounds for refusing. One was that the scheme could not possibly pay its way. I do not believe for one moment that I would have been justified in coming to that conclusion. The second ground was that for some special reason it would be contrary to the public interest. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have sought to suggest that this development is peculiarly contrary to the interests of the South Wales ports. I do not believe 703 they have succeeded in proving this point. The prosperity of the Bristol Channel and a successful development of this kind will not necessarily destroy the South Wales ports. Far from it. It could even be complementary to the prosperity of South Wales, and the generation of extra traffic in the Bristol Channel could be a source of advantage for all.
I remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that the project was not opposed on this occasion by the British Transport Docks Board. I will say a word on the subject of uneconomic price cutting, which is thought to be a real fear—
§ Mr. Roy Hughes rose—
§ Mr. McBride
The right hon. Gentleman was speaking about moneys in excess of £11,900,000 as authorised under the terms of the Bill. I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to Clause 31, lines 20 to 35. The sum authorised under paragraph (b) is £11,900,000. Under paragraphs (a), (c) and (d) reference is made only to "the sum requisite". The Minister must spell out to us the total amount of money that is to be spent, because on my reading of the Bill the authorisation sought is only £11,900,000.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. I do not consider myself under an obligation to answer that point. What is spent is a matter for the promoters. I was giving only a rough estimate and quoting a remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West.
704 I was dealing with the question of uneconomic price cutting and the fears that have been expressed, and I am at least giving the hon. Member for Newport credit for sincerity in what he has said. Having heard these anxieties expressed from various quarters, I invited representatives of the British Transport Docks Board and of the Bristol Port Authority to meet me in South Wales. We spent a quite profitable and useful afternoon discussing their obvious rivalries. Both were able to agree with at the end of the day that processes of uneconomic price cutting would be useless, unhelpful and dangerous. Both were prepared to agree to meet at regular intervals, quarterly, in order that any instance of such uneconomic cutting could be fully investigated.
The hon. Member for Newport, who has raised a great song and dance about this issue, must have been aware of that meeting. In the course of his speech this evening, which was not quite so nonparty political as he would like to suggest, he never made reference to that. He was not prepared to concede that anybody had made the slightest attempt to meet the anxieties of himself and his hon. Friends, which indeed they have. In that failure to recognise what others have tried to do he undermined a great deal of his case. He spoke tonight in a very much rehearsed and predictable way, and at no stage was he prepared to concede that there was anything in the case presented by those hon. Members on both sides of the House who had spoken for Bristol. He did his own case no good at all in that total disregard which he showed for Bristol.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is an important point here. The right hon. Gentleman has just taken my hon. Friend to task for apparently concealing information from the House. When asked on 25th January which Welsh dock interests he had consulted in detail, the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Use cannot be made of points of order to advance arguments. The Minister has said nothing out of order.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes
First, on the Minister's last point about the conciliatory gesture he made by this meeting in Cardiff, he will be aware that I have 705 written to him about this matter, pointing out that I felt that this was nothing more than a political gimmick. On the question of the rate of return, as I see it there are three sides to the triangle. We went into it very deeply in 1968. First, there is the estimate of the discounted cash flow from Bristol; secondly, the estimate from the Ports Council—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—thirdly, we had the estimate from the Ministry. Where is the estimate from the Ministry tonight?
§ Mr. Peyton
Without being offensive, I think that I can probably say that I share the relief of other hon. Members that the hon. Gentleman did not make his second speech last 35 minutes. There was a moment when I feared that he might be about to do that.
I think that everybody interested on both sides of the Bristol Channel will agree that we have made some genuine attempt to ensure that uneconomic price cutting, which will help nobody, will not occur. Procedures have been adopted to ensure that adequate opportunities are given for the registering of complaints on this score. Yet we are just told, rather ungenerously, that it is a political gimmick. I do not believe that in showing that lack of generosity the hon. Gentleman is showing his true character.
The assumption that Bristol has no rights whatever is not one which I believe strengthens the case of those who oppose the Bill. I believe that it is right that the Bill should have a Second Reading, and I hope that the House will agree to that proposition.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I greatly welcome the tone with which the Minister has addressed the House. I rise to speak as briefly as I can, to support the Bill knowing that there are many other hon. Members with a legitimate interest for and against who wish to make their argument and to allow the House to reach a decision.
The speech I want to make is one that I have long wanted to make in the House, since I was condemned by political advancement to make my support in another place where it was less publicly known but, I hope, was no less effective.
706 The truth is that this is Bristol's third attempt to get its dock development. Let us be perfectly plain and frank about it: the other two failed because the economic prospects were not thought to be good enough.
I say in all sincerity to the three Welsh Members who have spoken, and to the Scots Welshman who has spoken, too, that not one bit of their arguments carried any weight in this dispute in the considerations of the previous Government, save only that they identified and exploited—I say this without meaning to be offensive—in the defence of what they thought to be their constituents' interests, the economic weakness of the earlier schemes—namely, the Portbury and West Dock I were not thought by the Labour Minister to be economic enough to justify them. There was no other reason whatsoever why the earlier schemes were not authorised.
Though I do not want to introduce a political note into the debate, I must say that I somewhat resented the charges, when I was a member of the Cabinet when my party was in power, that there were other reasons than that. Therefore, I greatly welcomed the Minister's confirmation today that the D.C.F. calculations brought forward under the new scheme, which takes advantage of certain technical developments, are much more favourable than those in the past.
I think I can say without any contradiction from my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) or any other former member of the Labour Government that had the D.C.F. calculations now confirmed by this Minister, been available to the last Government, the scheme would have been approved, because all the argument centred round the expectation on the rate of return.
I am assuming that the grant will be forthcoming from the Government. We have not heard tonight whether this will be the case, but, the Government having made their pledges in the last election, in the election before that and on every other occasion when they were able to refer to it, I assume that they will make a grant for the Bristol Dock scheme.
I turn now to my hon. Friends who have spoken at enormous length in defence of what they believe to be their constituents' interests. I very much share 707 their anxieties about the unacceptably high level of unemployment in Wales and their legitimate fears that anything might be done, however accidentally, that might damage their interests. This is perfectly well understood and perfectly well founded.
However, to go beyond that to a systematic and sustained attack against one of the nation's oldest seaports in wishing to renew its old equipment is to go beyond the bounds of reason. I know that by hon. Friends adopt their attitude in sincerity. When they speak about the advantages that Bristol has by being a municipally-owned port they forget that Bristol is not a development area. The development area advantages, certainly those available to Wales under the previous Government, were considerable in terms of investment grants, in terms of regional employment premium, and in terms of a tight I.D.C. control over any development in Bristol; for Bristol did not qualify for I.D.Cs.
Whatever the House may feel about my activities in another capacity regarding the Clyde, the North-East and elsewhere, I hope that no one will accuse me of not being sensitive to high levels of unemployment, for it was my task as a Minister in the last Government to bring to bear major resources and a great deal of effort to help development in South Wales and elsewhere.
Having said that, however, I beg my hon. Friends not to speak as though this were an issue comparable to wales joining the Common Market. The truth is that we are all part of one economic region. The Severn Bridge and other means of transport bring us so closely together in terms of travelling time, trade and commerce that it is inconceivable that the development and prosperity which might flow from authorisation of the new West Dock scheme could fail to bring prosperity also to our friends and neighbours in South Wales.
I very much hope, therefore, that my hon. Friends, although they may wish to speak and, perhaps, vote against the proposal, will not be determined in their efforts to prevent the House giving its assent to the Bill. Incidentally, in this connection, I am confirmed in my belief that public ownership and some national planning would have been a sensible way of handling dock investment.
708 Bristol's whole character is built around its port. From the very outset Bristol has derived its thinking, its view of the world and its whole concept of society from seeing the world through the big picture window of its port. Since the Welsh have great poetry in them, I make no apology for saying that the fact that that port and its renewal should be the object of a particular and continuing attack is not understood in Bristol at all.
Bristol people are very determined. They will not give up. They tried the Portbury scheme. It did not come up to the criteria. They tried the first West Dock scheme. It did not come up to the test. Now, they have their second West Dock scheme, and it has come up to the test. They will not be diverted by arguments of the kind that we have had tonight, while they see Rotterdam and other ports developing; because the vision there in Bristol is alive.
I urge the House most sincerely to decide this issue on the merits as put forward, and as upheld by the Minister with all the means of assessment which he has at his disposal. I ask it to give the Port of Bristol the opportunity which it needs, and which it knows better than any, how to develop in the interests of the whole region.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) tempts me greatly, but I shall resist the temptation to take up his comments about unemployment, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, the RB211 and Beagle aircraft.
What we seek now is natural justice fter six years of being thwarted in our attempts to build our dock. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the last Government had no political axes to grind in deciding not to allow Portbury and West Dock No. 1 schemes to proceed. Some of us had suspected that, perhaps, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who, unfortunately, is not wih us tonight, might have had something to do with that decision, in the background, as a member of the Cabinet.
Perhaps I might just quote the words of Will Wilkins, the former Member for 709 Bristol, South, in the debate on 8th July, 1968. Referring to the then Minister of Transport, Mr. Richard Marsh, he said:In other words, he is the chap with the ring in his nose, and there is someone at the end of the pole about whom we should like to know."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1968; Vol. 768, c. 136–7.]I have never quite fathomed who it was at the end of the pole, but I am glad to know that it was not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South-East.
Times change, and Governments change. The former Minister of Transport had a pretty difficult task in trying to defend the decision not to allow the West Dock Mark 2 to proceed. I am glad that my right hon. Friend has not had to oppose a recommendation of the National Ports Council. It is significant that the Council has in the past thought long and hard before making recommendations of approval for ports to go ahead.
We have listened to the legitimate pleas of South Wales from hon. Members naturally concerned about its interests. We in the West Country also feel that we have legitimate interests. I do not wish to be offensive and try to pretend that Wales as a country is not a region, but we are no less of a region and we have our own regional interests. Because our region is long and thin and not more of a square shape, it does not follow that we are any less interested in development within the region, wherever that development may be.
Our three development points in the West Country are agriculture, tourism and industry, based on Plymouth and Bristol. All three form the whole entity of the West Country. We have our problems. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) said, the problems of unemployment are not unknown in the South-West. My hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Hicks) raised the subject of Gunnislake in an Adjournment debate recently, and my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Mudd) and I took part in that brief debate. If the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and his hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) were here, I am sure that they would wish to take part in the debate and acknowledge 710 that unemployment is a factor in our region.
We have a legitimate regional interest in wanting to see the West Dock Mark II go ahead. The M5 has been mentioned, and the A38 spine road extension to Plymouth is coming. These developments in the next few years will make the West Dock in Bristol a vital factor in the economic development of the West Country.
We are not greedy people in Bristol. We have an adventurous history, but I do not think that anyone can say that Bristol's adventures have let the country or the city down. Our demands are basically modest. All we seek is natural justice.
The dock gates of Avonmouth and the West Dock Mark 2 will be a mere 200 or 300 yards from the motorway system. We have had outstandingly good management in the port of Bristol for many years and outstandingly good marketing. The crux of the matter is the difference between a pessimist looking at the Bristol Channel as though it were a glass of water and saying, "I think the glass is half empty" and an optimist saying, "It is half full". On our side of the Channel we are optimists. There is a great deal of potential. That is why we believe that the development of the Bristol West Dock will do nothing other than increase interest and trade in the whole Bristol Channel.
There is another Bill before the House concerning the closure of the City Dock. All that we are trying to do is to replace our worn-out facilities in the City Dock of Bristol with new, modern facilities on the Somerset bank of the River Avon opposite Avonmouth. It is an idea site. It will not cause any loss of amenity. The natural deep water channel is on our side of the Channel. If the English Channel Tunnel is built the new dock and all the ports on the Bristol Channel will find themselves in an enviable position. They will then have direct access to Europe, and they will be the nearest ports for traffic from North America. I will not make any controversial statement about Bristol, Cardiff, Port Talbot, Milford Haven, Watchet or Bridgwater. All the ports on the Bristol Channel will find themselves in an enviable and favoured position—
§ Mr. Adley
—with their access to Europe in relation to traffic from North America. The brief intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King) was thoroughly constructive, because it clearly showed that other ports in the Bristol Channel had nothing to fear from the provision in the Channel of modern facilities.
I throw away a large quantity of my notes and say finally that my own business experience and my own eyesight show me that when a shoe shop opens in the High Street, very soon there are other shoe shops, because good shoe shops bring people who want to buy shoes. I believe that it will be exactly the same with the creation of a fine new port in the Bristol Channel and that we can look forward to the West Dock Mark II bringing increased prosperity to all ports on both sides of the Bristol Channel.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), I welcome the statement by the Minister tonight. Perhaps the only thing missing was that this would have been a most appropriate occasion for him to have given us a hint that there would be substantial Government assistance towards this project, but we are grateful for the way in which he put the case for Bristol.
Bristol is a most historic city and this development has been a continuous process. Some 195 years ago, in May, 1776, the Royal Assent was given to a Bill to improve Bristol docks. One of the Bristol Members most assiduous in seeing the Bill through the House was Edmund Burke. We hear a great deal about Edmund Burke these days, but it is a limited facet of his repertoire about which we are told, and I am happy to be able to tell the House that he was most assiduous in his attention to the interests of his constituents and that not only did he pursue the interests of the port development with great zeal, but he did his utmost to ensure that Bristol had its fair share of the slave trade. Even when that port Bill was going through there was serious complaint from both Liverpool and London who felt that this was a threat to them.
Bristol Members will be interested to know that at that time it was a tradition 712 of Bristol to make newly elected Members freemen of the City. I will say that things are not quite the same now and leave it at that, but Bristol Members will know what I mean.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren) was a little too modest in his introductory statement, because the harbour facilities in the Bristol area started at Sea Mills in his constituency where the Romans had a small port. As the port progressed and grew, we had this natural movement outwards to Avon-mouth, the outport. The plain fact of the matter is that in the Bristol Channel there is a substantial tract of deep water which happens to lie on the Bristol side and which is ten feet deeper than that on the opposite side. This is a geographical accident which has nothing to do with the machinations of Bristol, but the fact remains that this deep water channel is there and it gives Bristol a substantial advantage with shipping.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
On a point of order. I apologise for raising a point of order now, but I suspect that there may not be another opportunity to do so. As you will appreciate, Mr. Speaker, this debate is of major concern to the people of Wales and you yourself have commented, as have other hon. Members, that we have had two speeches of 35 minutes from the Welsh side of the Channel. However, they were the only two speeches allowed in opposition in an unusual debate. It is of genuine concern to us—and I say this seriously—that on a matter which is regarded as of the greatest importance in Wales we have been partially gagged. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may, because it suits their purpose, wish to treat it with a certain hilarity. But only two speakers have been allowed to put the arguments against this proposal. Hon. Members on this side representing South Wales constituencies and I have spent a lot of time going through what happened in the Select Committee in order to answer the economic arguments, and we have been denied the chance to do so. This will be regarded very badly in Wales.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not detect the point of order. The hon. Members for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) and Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) each spoke for 35 minutes. I should have much preferred to have called seven Members from South Wales 713 each of whom would have spoken for 10 minutes.
§ Mr. Tom King
Further to that point of order. May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that it would not have been possible to call seven Members for South Wales constituencies because they do not seem to be present?
§ Mr. Cocks
I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my speech.
We appreciate the genuine fears of the Welsh about unemployment. At two elections I contested the constituency of Gloucestershire, South where there is a substantial number of Welsh people, many of whom are good friends of mine, who settled in the area between the wars because things were very bad in South Wales. But I emphasise what my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol. South-East said, that we have suffered a great deal in Bristol through the development policies. If hon. Members care to look at the I.C.I. site to the north of Bristol they will see that a very small area has been developed because capital expenditure has been much more attractive in the development areas for this great company.
§ The hinterlands of the Bristol area and South Wales are entirely different. We live in times of economic change. The port of Barry was once a great coal exporting port. Now it is struggling along on very limited trade. Bristol is a feeder for a great agricultural hinterland. It is true that in the past there has been criticism to the effect that there is a lack of export content in the trade of the port. But, with the coming of the motorway, the intersection at Almondsbury will provide a tremendous chance for development of our export trade, and this will correct the imbalance.
§ Is it not sensible that, at a time when we are always speaking about the need to develop overseas trade, we should concentrate on the facilities for doing the job? I commend the Bill to the House as being a thoroughly desirable and worth-while measure which will bring Bristol a long overdue measure of social justice.
§ Mr. Alan Williams rose—
§ Mr. Robert Cooke rose—
§ Mr. Robert Cooke rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 132, Noes 23.715
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Urwin, T. W.|
|Moate, Roger||Royle, Anthony||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Monks, Mrs. Connie||Russelt, Sir Ronald||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Monro, Hector||Sandelson, Neville||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|More, Jasper||Scott, Nicholas||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Walters, Dennis|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Mudd, David||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Watkins, David|
|Neave, Airey||Soref, Harold||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Speed, Keith||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Normanton, Tom||Spence, John||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Stanbrook, Ivor||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Younger, Hn. George|
|Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Tinn, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Trew, Peter||Mr. Martin McLaren and|
|Pym, Rt Hn. Francis||Tugendhat, Christopher||Mr. Arthur Palmer.|
|Division No. 404.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Havers, Michael|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hawkins, Paul|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hay, John|
|Atkinson, Norman||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Awdry, Daniel||Emery, Peter||Hicks, Robert|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Eyre, Reginald||Hornby, Richard|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Hornsby-Smith. Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Benyon, W.||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hunt, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Fookes, Miss Janet||James, David|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, B. W.)||Fowler, Norman||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Gardner, Edward||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Gibson-Watt, David||Kilfedder, James|
|Bray, Ronald||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Goodhew, Victor||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Bryan, Paul||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Channon, Paul||Green, Alan||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Clegg, Walter||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Loveridge, John|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Gummer, Selwyn||McMaster, Stanley|
|Cohen, Stanley||Gurden, Harold||Macmillian, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Hannam, John (Exeter)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Crouch, David||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mather, Carol|
|d'Avigdor-Goltismid, Maj.-Gcn. Jamcs||Haselhurt, Alan||Mawby, Ray|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hooson, Emlyn||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Coleman, Donald||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||John, Brynmor||Prescott, John|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Judd, Frank||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Kinnock, Neil||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Evans, Fred||Lambie, David|
|Gower, Raymond||Leadbitter, Ted||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Lipton, Marcus||Mr. Roy Hughes and|
|Hardy, Peter||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Mr. Neil McBride.|
§ Question put accordingl:—716
§ The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 18.717
|Division No. 405.]||AYES||[10.8 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Gurden, Harold||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Haselhurst, Alan||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Havers, Michael||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Hawkins, Paul||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Benyon, W.||Hay, John||Redmond, Robert|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Hayhoe, Barney||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hicks, Robert||Royle, Anthony|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Hornby, Richard||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Boscawen, Robert||Homsby-Smith. Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Scott, Nicholas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Howell, David (Guildford)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Bray, Ronald||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Srocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Hunt, John||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Bryan, Paul||James, David||Soref, Harold|
|Channon, Paul||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Speed, Keith|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Ruslicliffe)||Kershaw, Anthony||Spence, John|
|Clegg, Walter||Kilfedder, James||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Cohen, Stanley||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Cooke, Robert||Kinsey, J. R.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Crouch, David||Longden, Gilbert||Tinn, James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James||Loveridge, John||Trew, Peter|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||McMaster, Stanley||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne. N.)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Emery, Peter||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mather, Carol||Walters, Dennis|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Mawby, Ray||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Watkins, David|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Moate, Roger||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Monro, Hector||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Fowler, Norman||More, Jasper||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Gardner, Edward||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Godber, fit. Hn. J. B.||Mudd, David||Younger, Hn. George|
|Goodhew, Victor||Neave, Airey|
|Green, Alan||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Normanton, Tom||Mr. Martin McLaren and|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Mr. Arthur Palmer.|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||John, Brynmor||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Coleman, Donald||Judd, Frank||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kinnock, Neil||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Evans, Fred||Lambie, David|
|Gower, Raymond||Lipton, Marcus||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hardy, Peter||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Mr. Roy Hughes and|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aueravon)||Mr. Neil McBride|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.