§ Order for Third Reading read. [Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified]
§ Mr. Speaker
I have not selected the Amendment of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) and his hon. Friends, "That the Bill be read the Third time upon this day six months".
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to draw your attention to certain contents of the Bill relating to a date that has already passed. Before the House proceeds with the Bill it should be aware of the fact that in 11 or 12 places the Bill refers to 1st October, 1972, a date that passed some 16 days ago.
§ Mr. Speaker
That cannot possibly be a point of order. It is a matter of the content of the Bill. It may be right or wrong, but it is not a matter of order.
§ Mr. Farr
I intended to seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, whether it was proper for a Bill of this nature, containing a number of consequential enactments, to go ahead although the date upon which some parts of the Bill are to become effective has already passed. I seek your guidance on whether the House should proceed with the Bill at all.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is a question of argument, not of order. It may be a good reason for opposing the Third Reading of the Bill, but it is not a matter upon which I can intervene.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
The Bill is now familiar territory to most hon. Members and I sought to cover it extensively in the speech I made on Second Reading. I know of no Private Member's Bill which has received a closer scrutiny in the other place and in the House of Commons and in a five-week public inquiry in Anglesey. We should not forget that over a period of two 174 years the Anglesey County Council, promoters of the Bill, have discussed it carefully and have voted overwhelmingly in its favour on two occasions.
I shall seek to be as brief as possible in view of the limitation on time. The Bill will enable the Anglesey County Council to assume control of the port of Amlwch and to permit Shell U.K. to construct two single buoy moorings offshore into which tankers would discharge crude oil into two pipelines carrying oil to the shore. These would go to a tank storage installation at Rhosgoch and thereafter to Shell's refinery at Stanlow on Merseyside. The two later stages of the project are not the subject of the Bill.
The pipeline from Amlwch and the storage tanks at Rhosgoch were the subjects of the five-week planning inquiry to which I referred, as a result of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for Wales has given his consent. The pipeline from Rhosgoch to Stanlow was the subject of an inquiry under the Pipe-lines Act, 1962, in the summer, the outcome of which is now awaited.
In the event, the Bill as it now comes before the House has not been greatly amended in principle, although there are a number of technical amendments to take into account, the special interests of such bodies as the Post Office and the Central Electricity Generating Board, and to allow for local government reorganisation. There are two new Clauses to which I shall refer in a moment. The purpose of constructing the SBMs and their associated facilities is, as hon. Members will recall, to provide a deep-water terminal capable of handling tankers up to the largest size foreseeable to serve the Stanlow refinery, which is being doubled in size over the next few years to meet the anticipated growth of demand for oil products in the North-West, especially heavy fuel oil for industry.
The economic implications of the Bill are not therefore confined to my constituency or to North Wales. They are even more important economically and industrially for the great cities and industries of the North-West. There has been some discussion whether Shell is justified in assuming this growth in 175 demand, and the House may be interested in hearing the view of an independent witness who gave evidence before the Select Committee. He is Professor Colin Robinson of the University of Surrey, a leading expert on energy forecasting techniques. He told the Select Committee that he believed the total demand for energy in this country in 1980 would be of the order of 420 million tons of coal equivalent, or roughly 250 million tons of oil. That is assuming an average growth of gross national product of 3 per cent. and of this he expected about 230 million tons of coal equivalent—approximately 135 million tons of oil—to be met by oil.
At present about 36 per cent. of United Kingdom oil consumption is in the area covered by the Stanlow refinery and in Professor Robinson's view the growth in this area will be greater than in the United Kingdom as a whole and the pattern is likely to continue for the rest of the decade. Almost half of Stanlow's present output, consisting mainly of heavy fuel oil, goes to industry, and the present expectation is that this will continue. I mention that because the major source of the crude oil which yields fuel oil is still the Middle East. So far as can be predicted at this stage, it will continue to be so and to be conveyed in very large tankers. This lies at the root of the need to find suitable reception facilities away from the Mersey but accessible to the refinery at Stanlow.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)
My right hon. Friend is quoting from earlier evidence. Did he not see the speech of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the Conservative Party Conference on Friday when he said that by 1980 half of Britain's oil requirements would be met from the North Sea? Has he not seen the report in today's Daily Telegraph from Mr. David Fleming, a marine expert from Shell-Esso and oil adviser to the Bank of Scotland who says that at least 60 per cent. of Britain's oil will be provided by the North Sea for as long as can be foreseen. If I catch Mr. Deputy Speaker's eye I shall be elaborating on this point, but would my right hon. Friend not agree that this evidence, later than his, contra- 176 dicts a great deal of the case he is making?
§ Mr. Hughes
I take the point, and it is important. I will seek to deal with the North Sea oil position. There are many experts on this but in the main we rely on the experts called by the promoters and opponents of the Bill before the Select Committees of this House and of another place. My hon. Friend will be aware that the Select Committee of this House made a unanimous recommendation—
§ Mr. Kaufman
I accept what my right hon. Friend says, but would he not accept that the expert I am quoting is from Shell? Would he not further agree that since these proceedings took place we have had three major oil finds in the North Sea which transforms the North Sea oil position?
§ Mr. Hughes
I have not read the evidence of the expert from Shell to which my hon. Friend refers. All I would say at this stage is that it is highly unlikely that a company such as Shell would spend £55 million on this scheme if it thought it could proceed in another way.
§ Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Chairman of Shell has within the past 12 months expressed great concern about the possibility of our looking down the muzzle of a gun, as he puts it, before the end of the century as a result of a shortage in world reserves of oil?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am afraid that I am not being allowed to develop my argument, and I must get on. I was referring to suitable facilities. The whole object of the project is to build a terminal to handle the large quantities of oil which, as I understand it, will be needed by this country in coming years, in a way which is economic and which provides real safeguards against pollution.
Pollution is a source of great concern to all hon. Members and it is of considerable concern to me as the Member for the constituency concerned. No one can pretend that the north coast of Wales and Liverpool are free from the threat of pollution. It is to the credit of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board that it foresaw this threat and the risk implied by the increased tanker traffic in the 177 Mersey when the scheme was first mooted. The objectors to the Bill have expressed anxiety about the possible pollution risk of the SBM operation. For example, the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), who has been the most persistent opponent of the Bill throughout its long passaage, referred during his speech on Report to the question of the SBM at Durban and the repeated allegation that the Durban buoy had been the source of serious pollution to the beaches in that area. This has been repeated in certain newspapers and periodicals.
I do not want to overstate my case, but it is reasonable to say that the objectors have relied to a large extent on this allegation although it has been fully refuted in the Press on a number of occasions. We are fortunate tonight to have with us a number of colleagues, including my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), who have just returned from a visit to that area and who have seen the single buoy mooring at Durban and the installation there. I stress that my hon. Friends were in South Africa independently of the Anglesey County Council or of Shell. I hope that my hon. Friend will be given the opportunity later in the debate to give his first-hand impressions of what he saw there.
In view of that, and as the matter was so fully ventilated before the two Select Committees, and both were satisfied that the Durban SBM was being operated in such a way as to pose no threat of oil pollution to the beaches there, I will say only that the South African authorities have once again stated that they have no criticism to make of the buoy. At the risk of extending my speech beyond the limits I set myself, perhaps hon. Members should hear the terms in which the South African Department of Industries recently pronounced on this very point. It said:At the request of Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Pty) Ltd, I wish to confirm that the position is still unchanged. Despite a few very minor spillages which occurred at the SBM—incidents which have been dealt with expeditiously and effectively by the managing company—this Department still considers the SBM a satisfactory facility, and we are satisfied that the incidents of beach pollution which have thus far occurred along the Durban beaches can in no way be ascribed to the operations of the SBM. This statement is made on the strength of tests which are 178 being carried out from time to time and the close watch which is being kept during these incidents.There is the evidence—
§ Mr. Farr
I do not know the date of that statement, but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is familiar with the reports from the South African Houses of Parliament this year, which show that several Members of Parliament with constituencies adjacent to Durban have expressed exactly the opposite views.
§ Mr. Hughes
The date of the statement was last August. I am aware of the debates in the South African Parliament and have read its HANSARD of the debate to which the hon. Gentleman refers. The hon. Gentleman is an experienced parliamentarian, as all of us are. After reading that report, I was not at all impressed, and do not agree that a number of South African Members of Parliament would support the allegation the hon. Gentleman has persistently made. I hope that the House will join me in hoping that these unfounded allegations can now be laid to rest. They do nothing but confuse the issue and create alarm and despondency among my constituents without any foundation. I hope that if the hon. Gentleman is to produce any evidence he will produce something which is rather better than that. I believe that the House will join me in hoping that these rumours will now come to an end.
I come to one last point before dealing briefly with the two Amendments. Since we last discussed the Bill on Report, there have been a number of important discoveries of oil in the North Sea to add to those already announced. It has been argued by the Bill's opponents that those discoveries eliminate the need for the single buoy mooring. The discoveries are very important to this country, but they do not do away with the need for the single buoy mooring, for two reasons. First, they are so located that wherever they are landed in this country the major part will be landed by tanker, including any that may make their way to supply Stanlow. Secondly, the nature of the oil market in the North West demands an exceptionally high proportion of heavy fuel oil, which in its turn is derived from the types of crude oil which, so far as 179 can be foreseen now, will continue to be brought in from traditional sources.
In either case, the single buoy mooring would have an important part to play. To those hon. Members who believe that the oil will be directed to refineries on the East Coast—a red herring—I can only say that according to my information the major part of the overheads in marketing oil is the stage from the gates of the refinery to the eventual consumer. Clearly, refineries on the East Coast are not well sited for access by customers on Merseyside or in the great Lancashire industrial complex.
Finally, I come to the two Amendments to which I referred earlier. The first was new Clause 49.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am not hostile generally to this thesis, but could he answer this question? It has been asserted in various organs of the Press, and particularly in the New Stateman, that the economic advantages to Anglesey will not be commensurate with the possible damage to the amenities. As the Member of Parliament for Anglesey, is he satisfied that that is not the case?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the reasonable way he put his point. What I would say to him is that Anglesey County Council, representing the people of Anglesey, has considered this in depth over two years, and on two occasions has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill. Anglesey county councillors, who live in the constituency, have a closer vested interest in the cleanliness of the beaches of Anglesey than hon. Members who represent remote parts of rural England. I do not want to put it higher than that. Anglesey county councillors are not fools.
I hope the hon. Gentleman will take it from me that I also have considered this very carefully. Certainly I do not want to see the beaches of Anglesey polluted. The pollution which has taken place and is taking place is from ships breaking the law passed by this House and clearing their bunkers out at sea. It could be argued strongly that this Bill is an amenity Measure, in the sense that if lanker traffic along the North Wales 180 coast intensifies in the future, there will be real danger of collisions that would damage the North Wales coast and the North Wales tourist industry for a very long time to come. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to say that.
New Clause 49 reads:Except with the consent of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and of the Secretary of State for Wales, the Company shall not use or permit to be used the Company's works for the loading into vessels of crude oil.This was added at the request of the promoters to allay the concern of the petitioners as to the apparently greater risk of pollution from SBMs used for loading. The conditions which have created problems at loading terminals in some of the remoter parts of the world—distance from shore, sand damage to valves, inexperienced local labour, and, in one instance, civil war—are not likely to be reproduced in Anglesey. Looking at it realistically, the likelihood of the buoy being required for loading is a remote contingency. Nevertheless, the promoters have inserted that Clause and hon. Members will agree that proper safeguards have been built in.
The second of the Amendments was tabled by the hon. Member for Harborough on Report. It laid down that where possible the pipelines which connect the buoy to the shore shall be buried in the sea bed. I am grateful to him for putting that Amendment down. I am glad that the promoters have accepted it.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for Wales, and to the Under Secretary for Trade and Industry for being present this evening. I have some short questions. I shall be grateful if they would assist the House by answering them. It is important that the Bill should be clarified completely. Would the Secretary of State comment on the project from two points of view? The answer would help with the question by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). It concerns the immediate and long-term impact on the economy of Anglesey, the provision of jobs, and the implications for the prevention of pollution. In this connection he might also comment on the report which the inspector made to him.
Would the Under-Secretary of State he good enough to confirm that he is satisfied that the Bill gives his Department 181 adequate powers to control the design, construction and operation of the SBM and its ancillary installations? Since his Department has overall responsibility for marine pollution, would he comment on this? Would he state whether, in the view of his Department, the project as a whole would be beneficial to the economy of Wales and the North-West of England and the country at large? It would be helpful if the Minister dealt with this point.
The hon. Member for Harborough raised the point of retrospection. I do not see any difficulty in preserving 1st October, 1972, as the effective date for the transfer of Amlwch Harbour undertaking, even though it will be retrospective. The practical effect will be that the county council will be responsible for any net expenditure from that date and can simply undertake to reimburse this to the urban district council. The amount is likely to be quite trivial. There may be no sum at all because the port of Amlwch, which has been standing idle since the copper trade came to an end in the last century, will be modernised and made attractive. That is one of the advantages of the Bill.
As the Member for Anglesey, I welcome this project and congratulate my county council on deciding to promote the Bill. I am satisfied that it will be carried out in a way which will not be harmful. I believe that the county, which will control and run the operation, will benefit in many ways from the enterprise. I am glad to think that we may make a small contribution to the general efficiency of British industry on which our future as a country depends.
I am grateful to all hon. Members who have taken a critical look at the Bill. That is the function and duty of hon. Members. However, after the most careful scrutiny at every stage, I hope that the Bill will be given a Third Reading.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)
On Second Reading I expressed concern about the danger of pollution resulting from spillages from the proposed terminal and the effect it would have on the tourist trade of the North Wales coastal resorts, particularly those in my constituency—Llandudno, Deganwy, Conway, Penmacnmawr and Llanfairfechan—which 182 are heavily dependent on tourism for their prosperity. Clean beaches are the best advertisement for any resort while pollution, especially oil pollution, is anathema.
Recent reports from South Africa have tended to confirm my worst fears about the possible consequences of an Anglesey terminal. They state that Shell and British Petroleum have experienceda great deal of trouble with their single offshore mooring buoysituated about two miles offshore at Reunion Rocks on Durban's Bluff. I picked up this report in the Library which appeared in the June edition of the British Commonwealth Shipping Group's magazine Clansman. It reads:The prevailing swift current, together with the exposed site, have time and again proved too much for the oil flow pipes which have recently ruptured for the ninth time since the buoy was brought into service 18 months ago. Concern has been voiced by the various antipollution committees (both official and unofficial) existing in Durban, as well as the City Council and Publicity Association, who are worried about the damage oil slicks are doing to Durban's beaches, already badly fouled".I am well aware that there has been a lot of oil pollution at Durban which is not directly attributable to the oil terminal. The quotation continues:Polluted beaches could prove the death knell to Durban's multi-million rand tourist industry".Neither the right hon. Member for Anglesey nor I want that sort of thing to happen in North Wales. We do not want to risk it happening. If we lose our tourism income, we shall be well and truly lost, Anglesey included. I understand that Anglesey gains more than £5 million a year from tourism. Compared with this, the county's possible income from the terminal is minimal. North Wales's total income from tourism runs to tens of millions of pounds. Once the area got a bad reputation, which is very easily gained, for oil pollution—the threat would be there if we agreed to this terminal—we should stand to lose a great deal.
I have been studying these reports from South Africa, including the South African Parliament's Hansard report for the debate on 1st March 1972. What worries me is not only the frequency of the spillages at Durban but the intractable nature of the pollution problem and 183 the apparent lack of any arrangement for compensation to those interests which might be adversely affected.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
I have listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said about tourism. Does he agree that the tourist trade in Pembrokeshire has increased substantially year by year over the last 10 years in spite of the massive oil trade which goes on at Milford Haven?
§ Mr. Roberts
I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that Pembrokeshire does not have a terminal such as that which is proposed for Anglesey and such as that which operates off Durban.
I will tell the House a few more facts about the terminal at Durban. We can all agree that the spillages from the Durban terminal have been very numerous. They have been estimated at 33 spillages totalling 80 tons of oil in the months between September, 1970, and August, 1972, when admittedly 12 million tons of oil were discharged. Therefore, the spillage was perhaps a fraction of a fraction, but enough to cause a furore in the South African Parliament.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am coming to that. I understand that much of the damage at Durban has been caused by faulty pipelines. I am not sure whether a new kind of pipeline buried in the seabed would help to prevent rupture and spillage, because I understand that the faulty pipelines at Durban have been those leading to the seabed rather than those lying upon it.
What is clear is that as late as April of this year the trouble had still not been cured and the general manager of Shell-BP Refinery at Durban was reported in the Press as saying:We must be sure we can operate the buoy safely.In reply to a demand that the buoy be closed down permanently, he said that the faults were being slowly but thoroughly ironed out. As far as I am aware, that process has still not been completed.
184 I am sure that the right hon. Member for Anglesey will understand that I do not want to be in the same position as the South African Member of Parliament Mr. W. V. Raw who withdrew his objection to the Durban terminal after assurances had been given that there would be no pollution and that, if there were, it could be controlled immediately and eliminated. In the debate on 1st March he was a sadder and wiser man and he told one of the South African Ministers concerned that if he came to swim at Durban's Addington Beach and then went home to dry and scrape the oil off his feet he would find that a week later he would still be scraping the oil off his feet. Mr. Raw went on to say:The nature of the oil that is coming ashore there is such that it is making these beaches so unpleasant that people cannot use them and it is having an effect on the normal economy of Durban.Another Member of Parliament, Mr. Mitchell, said on 1st March that spraying detergents on the oil slicks did not dispose of the oil. This point was admitted by the South African Minister of Transport, who said:The hon. Member is quite right when he says that oil detergents are of very little help in the process of dispersing oil. It disperses oil but the oil forms blobs which go on to the beach. Much better methods must be adopted if we want to cover that aspect …".What kind of detergents will be needed, and used, off Anglesey? Will they be any more effective? As I understand it, they will be precisely the same detergents as those which have proved so ineffective at Durban.
Then there is the matter of compensation—
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
Even putting the hon. Gentleman's case at its highest, what he is saying is that a new peril will be brought into being in substitution for a peril which already exists from spillages from transfer of oil at sea and through collision. Will he not accept in relation to the substituted peril the evidence of Dr. J. H. Simpson, Lecturer in Physical Oceanography at the North Wales University, Bangor, an independent witness called by the objectors to the Bill, when he said in reply to cross-examination:I think that if oil has to come into the country the single buoy mooring may be the way to do it"?185 So despite everything the hon. Gentleman is saying, it would appear that the substituted system is one which is infinitely safer than the system which exists at present.
§ Mr. Roberts
The fear that exists at the moment is not comparable with the fear that exists in Durban as a result of their actual experience of this terminal.
I come to the point about compensation. Of course local authorities will be compensated for clearance work, but what about hoteliers and others who suffer from a fast or slow decline in trade? There is no provision for compensation for damage of this kind, so far as I can see, either in this Bill or anywhere else.
To sum up, the proposed terminal clearly involves risk—I put it no higher than that—to our tourist industry in North Wales, an industry which is a very important stay of our economy, an industry which has a very bright future, especially when the new A55 road is built. Is this risk worth taking? It might be worth taking if what we sought to gain was commensurate with what we sought to lose, but clearly, even in South African terms, it is not commensurate.
§ Mr. Gwynoro Jones (Carmarthen)
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether this is the Welsh Office's view, or is he saying this as his resignation speech as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State?
§ Mr. Roberts
It is surely abundantly clear to the House that I am speaking as a constituency Member. The risk might be worth taking if it were minimal, but the Durban experience shows that it is not. What assurances we have had from South Africa come surely from interested parties. This is why I remain unconvinced of the merits of this Bill.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to his own fears about the possibility of pollution of the shores of Caernarvonshire, representation of which I share with him, though I do not share his fears on this score. Could he say whether Caernarvonshire County Council has objected to this Bill? Almost the whole of Caernarvonshire county is coastline and very dependent on a flourishing tourist industry. What is the attitude of the county council?
186 Secondly, could he enlighten us as to the objections, if any, by the county council or the local authorities of the adjacent county of Denbigh, in which are found some very important tourist centres, particularly on the Denbighshire coast? Have they had anything to say in objection to this Bill on the grounds advanced by him?
Finally—if he goes along the coast—will he tell us of the attitude of the Flint-shire County Council? Perhaps he will know what Rhyl and other notable tourist resorts on the Flintshire coast have to say on this point.
Is he not straining at a highly improbable hazard in the face of an ever-present hazard arising, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) has pointed out, from the facts of the situation on Merseyside and in Liverpool Bay facing the northwest coast, where spillages from collision at sea are very much more a danger than what is proposed?
§ Mr. Gwyn Roberts
The right hon. Gentleman asked me a series of rhetorical questions—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He knows well enough that certainly the Caernarvonshire County Council does not, as far as I am aware, object to the Bill. That goes very largely for other county councils which may have objected to the Bill but have since withdrawn their objections.
But what I would like the right hon. Gentleman to concentrate his mind upon, as I have concentrated my mind upon it since I began my speech and since I referred to particular resorts whose views I express, is the fact that there is—and he knows it—a great deal of concern among the tourist interests in the North Wales area. They are right to be concerned. They have not expressed this concern unduly because they are fearful, as every resort is fearful, that even a rumour of pollution in the vicinity drives tourists away, and he knows as well as I do that there is a real fear that this terminal will cause pollution in North Wales.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)
As a representative of the Department of Trade and Industry I have been asked two direct 187 questions and it might help the House if I were to try to answer them now, because it would be foolish not to accept that there must be concern among people about the possibility of spillage and pollution. It is therefore right that the facts as far as one is able to provide them, should be given to the House. At this stage, therefore, an intervention might help hon. Members—not that I wish in any way to interfere with the debate on a Private Bill—to make an assessment in what they may have to say.
There is no reason to suppose that the risk of spillage from a monobuoy mooring is any greater than the risk of spillage from an ordinary unloading facility of a marine character at a jetty or anywhere else. It is also important that people should know that it would be quite wrong of me to say that there is no risk. There is a risk. I have tried to think of a comparison, having myself been somewhat concerned with the matter, and I would say that the risk is like the risk of falling over and killing oneself in the bath: it does happen, but one does not legislate for it. It is not the sort of thing one would normally bring into consideration when dealing with normal problems of safety in its many aspects.
A certain amount of reference has been made in the debate to the case in Durban. My attention has been drawn to a letter from the Department of Industries of South Africa, to which, I believe, the right hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) referred, in which it is said:This Department … is satisfied that the incidents of beach pollution which have so far occurred along the Durban beaches can in no way be ascribed to the operations of the single buoy mooring. This statement is made on the strength of tests which are being carried out from time to time and the close watch which is being kept during these incidents.That was dated 23rd August this year.
I draw that letter to the attention of the House only because in the matter of tourism and the fear of pollution of our beaches—I represent a holiday constituency, so I am as conscious of the problem, I am sure, as is my hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts)—it is imperative to assure 188 people locally that we are not, just for the sake of industry, willing to cast aside a section of the country or of beach in any part of Wales or, indeed, anywhere else.
There is in the Humber an illustration of the operation of a monobuoy mooring, where, since January, 1971, there have been two minor spillages—much less, as I suggested a minute ago, than at the Humber quay itself. It was possible for both of these to be cleared up by the craft which is kept in attendance at the monobuoy specifically for this purpose.
That is the sort of information, I think, which local authorities and tourist organisations ought to have at their disposal, as also should the House when trying to make a judgment on the Bill.
Next, I was asked whether I considered that there was a matter of safety here involved. The Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to approve plans and sections before work is begun, to approve alterations, to abate the works in case of abandonment or decay, to survey and to direct that during construction, or any alteration, all necessary steps shall be taken, including the lighting of the works, for the prevention of danger to navigation.
Such powers are standard. They are standard form in Private Acts authorising works in tidal waters. I am satisfied—this is what I was asked—that these powers will enable the Secretary of State to discharge satisfactorily his responsibilities for safety at sea and for safeguarding the public right of navigation.
Finally, I was asked whether the Department believed that the project would be of benefit to the area. I believe that there should be wide economic benefits from the enlargement of this refinery. It will be of obvious benefit to have the cost-effectiveness of large tanker unloading. There is a need in North Wales and in the North-West to have as cheap a fuel structure as is humanly possible. This is not only a matter of economics. It is a matter of industrial growth, and a matter of jobs and all that goes with that. It therefore seems to the Department that there will be a direct economic benefit not only to North Wales but to the North-West region generally.
189 I hope that those few remarks, in response to the questions put to me, will be of some help to the House.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)
I welcome the presence and intervention of the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. May I put to him a factual question for which he may not have the information at the moment? I hope, however, that he will be able to provide us with an answer during the debate as it is a matter of importance. My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) said that Shell Oil would clearly be unwilling to be responsible for the outlay of £55 million unless it thought it was a worthwhile project. I should be grateful if, during the debate, the Under-Secretary of State could tell the House the amount of financial aid that the Government will provide towards the £55 million. The calculations in the documents which I have studied indicate that the outlay for the Government would be about £20 million. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) has indicated that that would still leave about £35 million, but obviously £20 million worth of aid is something which cannot be sneezed at.
In opposing the Third Reading of the Bill, I should like at the outset to pay a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey for the work which he does for his constituency and for the way in which he has sought to get the Bill through the House. I have no doubt that he does so because he believes that the Bill is in the interests of his constituents. If I disagree with him, I do not do so because I presume in any way to tell him what is good for his constituents, just as I know that he would not presume to tell me what is good for mine. On the other hand, my right hon. Friend has fairly said that the implications of the Bill go wider than his constituency. He has said that the implications include the North-West of England, which by inference includes my constituency. Therefore, just as my constituents have a vested interest in the maintenance of the amenities of Anglesey, as a great many of them go there on holiday, they also have a vested interest in whatever economic benefits or debits may come from the Bill. I hope that my 190 right hon. Friend will accept that in opposing the Bill I am not seeking to interfere with his representation of Anglesey, which every hon. Member respects.
In opposing the Bill I will state a number of arguments which it seems have not been sufficiently considered. I trust that the House will bear with me as I move through the documents which I have assembled, and will acquit me, if it has any impatience, of any attempt to delay. It is simply that tracing the references which I have discovered may take some time.
My right hon. Friend said that the Anglesey County Council had considered the matter in depth. Although I shall always pay tribute to my right hon. Friend, I cannot accept what he says about Anglesey County Council. As I shall prove by quotations from members of the county council, the way in which they have approached the Bill has been negligent, cavalier and superficial to a degree which is a betrayal of the people they represent. I say that not only about the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Anglesey, who spoke before the Select Committee, but the oil pollution officer, whose performance before the Committee and whose readiness to accept information of a most unsatisfactory nature does not do him credit. I say that with full responsibility for what I am saying.
I shall refer to the Durban spillages, not as a main basis in my argument but as a minor ingredient in the case against the Bill. Whether or not there has been pollution from the Durban spillages is only slightly relevant to the argument against the Bill. My right hon. Friend and the Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Robert) referred to the proceedings in the South African Parliament. I say to them that I did not think it would be necessary ever for my right hon. Friend, a man of superb record, as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs against apartheid and racialism, to have, in the course of his argument, to call upon the bona fides of the South African Government for an argument in favour of this Bill. [Interruption.] I know that hon. Members opposite do not like this and I am not in any way attempting to appeal to them, for I do not care either for the 191 arguments of those Members of the South African Parliament who have spoken against such schemes. I am not going to cite statements made either by the South African Government or by any Members of the South African Parliament because, as the Home Secretary told the Conservative Party conference in another context last week, I spurn them all. I wish to quote the facts rather than opinions, and the deductions drawn from those facts, because it is the facts which are important.
In opposing the Bill—and I say this in apology to hon. Members opposite who may oppose it too and perhaps welcome my opposition—I do so as a Socialist and for Socialist reasons. I put my arguments to my fellow-Socialists on this side of the House and do so because I believe that the Shell Oil Company, a massive international company with enormous resources, is, for its own purposes—purposes of which, as I shall explain, I have the gravest suspicion—taking Anglesey County Council for a ride and is even, although it is a difficult thing to do because he is an exceptionally astute as well as honourable politician, taking my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey for a ride. I will attempt to explain why.
I will look at the arguments which have been made in favour of the Bill before I come to what I regard as its disadvantages. I wish to go through these arguments in order to bring home to my hon. Friends, as well as to any hon Members opposite who wish to be converted by me, that every single claim which has been made for the Bill by Shell, the promoter, is invalid and based on evidence that is either untrue, incomplete or superficial.
§ Mr. Kaufman
If it were promoted by a State board I would oppose it equally and for the reasons which I now wish to put before the House. But it is not insignificant that the proposal is being put by this kind of company. But even 192 if it were put forward by, say, British Rail—which I am fighting in my constituency on many things—I would oppose it equally. I understand that Anglesey County Council, whatever its politics, is not Tory. I am not opposing the council because of its politics but because of its irresponsibility and betrayal of the people it represents. I first turn to the arguments made in favour of the Bill. I wish to consider them in detail which I trust will not be otiose repetition. If it is, I know that you will call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The first argument which has been made is about the employment which the project may or may not provide, and the first argument put forward in favour of the employment prospects if the Bill was passed was put on Second Reading on 9th June, 1971, in another place by the noble Lord, Lord Lauderdale.
It is important to draw the attention of the House to the way in which the Earl of Lauderdale approached his responsibility with regard to this Bill. He intervened in the debate on Second Reading in another place on 9th June, 1971, and declared no interest whatever. On 21st October, when there was Motion for recommitment of the Bill he spoke again and at that stage declared an interest of 100 shares in Shell Oil.
On 1st February, this year, on Third Reading, not only did he declare an interest, saying that he had 200 shares in Shell Oil, but he moved Third Reading, so from having been a backbencher with no particular role, he turns out to be a share-owner who moves the Third Reading.
I apologise if at this moment I become slightly peripatetic in my arguments, but the noble Lord, Earl Lauderdale, on Second Reading of the Bill on 9th June said that there were to be about 80 jobs, and I quote:This proposition would bring 35 to 40 permanent new jobs to the local people, about 20 or so maintaining the two launches and the SBM's and about 15 to 20 on the tank farm."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 9th June, 1971; Vol. 320, c. 277.]So, according to him on 9th June, 1971, there would be 80 jobs, but on the Third Reading we had him again and this time he changed his tune and by now was saying that there would be at least 60 193 permanent new jobs which should be regarded as likely for Amlwch. So already 20 jobs had gone.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey, in moving Second Reading in this House on 28th February this year said:The construction of the terminal would provide work for 200, and once it is operating there will be direct permanent jobs for 60 and, indirectly, jobs for a further 40."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 120.]So my right hon. Friend, after the Earl of Lauderdale had moved the estimate down from 80 to 60, raised it to 100.
Then we come to the proceedings in Committee on the Bill. We then had Councillor Williams, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Anglesey County Council saying about the number of jobs being provided:I would think that a safe figure on which to work is that it would provide possibly up to 60 permanent jobs, and a large number of temporary jobs. It is, I think, unwise and unfortunate if firm figures are quoted which would only dash the hopes of the large number of unemployed people in Anglesey in clue course".So the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Anglesey County Council is saying that there might be 60 jobs and that they could not be relied upon, and that people's hopes should not be raised.
On the second day, we have Mr. A. J. Carter, the principal witness for Shell Oil. He is one of the most admirable and reliable witnesses who came before the Committee. He was asked:'It appears from your evidence today that the most local people who can be employed regularly would be round about 30 roughly?Mr. Carter, the senior witness for Shell in this Bill replied:Yes; about 35 I should say.We are now told on the latest available evidence that 35 jobs would be provided locally by this project. Many people think that that is an overestimate, but, clearly, 35 jobs would have no impact whatever on unemployment in Anglesey.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Yes, and I have asked for information on which we may reach a conclusion about the Bill, but the information so far presented is that the Government would be putting £20 million towards the cost of the project and, that being so, each job would cost £600,000. If my hon. Friend does not think that the industrial policies of this or any other Government could deal with the whole of the unemployment problems of Anglesey more cheaply than £600,000 per job, his idea of regional policy is greatly different from mine, let alone the ideas of our late hon. Friend from Middlesbrough, West.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I am not saying that that is the purpose. What I am saying is that one of the principal arguments for the Bill—it was put forward in another place and it has been put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey—is that the project would provide employment. I have tried to show that the amount of employment would be minimal and that it would be provided at a cost to the Exchequer of £600,000 per job. Although I am the last person to wish the slightest action not to be taken if it would provide jobs, as the Member for an area with its own unemployment problems, I know that the problem in Ardwick, which has a problem of far more than 35 jobs, could be solved for far less than £20 million which, as taxpayers, we should be asked to spend in Anglesey.
I am not saying that that is how we should judge it, but if anyone argues that the project should go ahead on the basis that it would be a job provider, I argue that it is scarcely a job provider and that, if it is, it is the most luxurious terms that any exponent of regional policy could possibly advocate.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Ancillary industry is an important consideration and I shall come to it later, but I now come to the argument about revenue for Anglesey, an argument that has been paraded by those promoting the Bill. The argument about revenue is as utterly bogus, deceptive and untruthful as that about job provision.
§ Mr. Laurance Reed (Bolton, East)
The hon. Member's argument has been somewhat specious and he should not be allowed to get away with it. The terminal would provide some employment in Anglesey—we may argue about how much—but for Anglesey it would be a plus. But the Government's investment is not given specifically with a view to creating that number of jobs in Anglesey but with a view to getting a plant which could fill the nation's needs.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I am grateful to the hon. Member for that intervention. As I will come to the argument about revenue, so I will come to the argument about the nation's needs. I think that I shall be able to show that that argument, too, is utterly bogus and has been employed by Shell as a snare to persuade people to pump money into a project that is a scandal.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I do not wish to labour the point. I was only trying to persuade the House that if job provision were to be used as an argument in favour of the Bill, it was an argument of the most minimal kind that could be deployed only on the basis of the most massive expenditure on behalf of the taxpayer and that pumping £20 million into Anglesey in other ways would provide far more than 35 jobs. But that is not my only argument, and if it were hon. Members would be at liberty to say that my case was a little delicate, to say the least.
I come now to the question raised by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) on revenue provision. Here once again we come to that admirable fellow the Earl of Lauderdale. He dealt not only with job provision but also with the financial rewards available to the good people of Anglesey from the project. I quote from 196 him on Second Reading, the occasion when he did not declare his interest on 9th June last year. He said that Shelloffered an ex-gratia payment of one new penny per ton of crude oil passing through this pipe per annum, offering Anglesey an eventual revenue in altogether new money"—I like that—of something like £250,000 per annum."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 9th June, 1971; Vol. 320, c. 278.]By 1st February this year, by which time the Earl had taken on a more responsible rôle as the spokesman of Shell Oil, he had revised his estimate very considerably downward. He said:After the proper corrections for the effect of the rate support grant."—because Anglesey loses some of its rate support grant when it gets this beneficial subsidy—this seems likely to mean a new net revenue to Anglesey County Council of the order of £120,000 in 1975, if the timing programme is adhered to, rising to about £150,000 by the end of the decade."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 1st February, 1972; Vol. 327, c. 709.]The Dutch auction had now taken Royal Dutch Shell down from £250,000 in June, 1971, to a maximum of £150,000 in February, 1972. My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey, moving the Second Reading of the Bill on 28th February this year, had a different estimate. He said that the county council, through the terminal authority, would receive income rising to £200,000 per annum net.
In the Committee, however, the advocate of the Bill, Mr. Jupp, said what the amount would be, and I quote from day one of the proceedings:net payment to the county council in the year 1975 will be £150,000 per annum, assuming, and this is the assumption, that by then the terminal is importing 17 million tons a year.There is no guarantee that it would be importing that amount. The figure has fallen already by £100,000 from the figure given by the Earl of Lauderdale. But that £150,000 is not pure gain. Far from it, because under the Bill Anglesey is committed not only to receiving revenue but also to outlays of expenditure. We are told that part of the arrangement is that Anglesey County Council will construct a harbour. Quoting from day one we find counsel for the Bill saying: 197The model test shows that less extensive works are now possible"—That is works less extensive than originally envisaged—with the result that the county council's share of the estimate of expenses is now reduced from £1,500,000, which is the addition of works 5 to 10 on the estimate of expense. I do not know that I need ask the Committee to look at it, but just to hear it in mind. It is now estimated that they can be done for just under £750,000 by leaving out some of the works.Let us accept that the estimate of counsel for the Bill of the revenue—assuming that the 17 million tons materialises—is correct. We find income, we hope, of £150,000 a year and outlay, according to counsel of £750,000. I stopped doing mathematics pretty early at school but according to my estimate that is five years' revenue gone down the drain immediately, assuming that the revenue comes in, which it may not, but knowing that the expenditure is committed, because it is in the Bill.
Let us look at what the Bill says. We have the word of Mr. Jupp in photostat but we also have the Bill. Page 2, paragraph (7) says:For the construction of the works authorised by this Act to be construed by the council £1,500,000.Mr. Jupp tells us that he hopes it might be £750,000 but the Bill has written into it £1,500,000. On the one hand £150,000 may be coming in from revenue, but on the other hand the expenditure which will be laid down in an Act means that 10 years' revenue is mortgaged at a stroke.
There is more than that. There are two other facts. I will not intervene in any argument between the hon. Member for Conway and my right hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Goronwy Roberts) because I will always, on anything but this Bill, take the side of my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member mentioned tourism. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ron Lewis) ought not to heckle me on that. The last thing I am doing is making a Tory argument.
§ Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)
An hon. Member opposite could not catch my hon. Friend's words and I said "tourism". I am not in any way disagreeing with him.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I apologise to my hon. Friend. I am obliged to him. I am so unused to any support from this side of the House that when I heard an interruption I automatically took it to be hostile.
§ Mr. Gower
Does the hon. Gentleman not consider that he may be looking at this through the eyes of a rich city like Manchester? Does he appreciate that the provision of 30 or 40 jobs and a new harbour and a client such as Shell are tremendous things for a small rural county in Wales? Does he realise he is looking through different spectacles and that this is something quite different for one of the poorer rural areas compared with what it would be for Manchester?
§ Mr. Kaufman
The hon. Gentleman should not rub salt into my wounds in talking about Manchester as a rich city. Since his Government reduced our rate support grant we are poverty-stricken and the many things which need to be done in my constituency, which is environmentally one of those which suffers most in the country, cannot be done. He should not refer to Manchester as a rich city. We once were, but after 1970 matters have changed very much.
As for what he says about a small rural council and its relationship with a giant company like Shell, I shall be coming to the exceptionally sinister implications of such a connection. I find to my gratification that as I have planned the scheme of my speech I have been able to anticipate every one of the interventions, and I trust that I shall be able to satisfy with argument everything said to me in interventions.
I return to where I was, the speech of the hon. Member for Conway about tourism. He has worries, since he is a Member for a tourist constituency. We should take account of his worries. The question was put to the pollution officer of Anglesey, Mr. Thomas, about whose rôle I have said something and shall have something further to say. Counsel against the Bill asked him:If my mathematics are right about Anglesey's present tourist income, one needs only a decline of some 3 per cent. to cause losses to Anglesey of some £202,000 a year".The reply by the pollution officer of Anglesey was, "Yes". He admitted that a 3 per cent. decline would lose £200,000 for Anglesey We do not have 199 to take any view about what is said by Members of the South African Parliament to know that if there is a fear that Anglesey will be polluted people will think twice about going there for their holidays. The loss of £200,000 would totally wipe out the revenue from the oil royalties and leave a deficit.
But even that is not all. Anglesey not only has a commitment to building the harbour but has another commitment. We find this on day 6 of the proceedings of the Committee on the Bill. [Interruption.] I am sorry if my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby disapproves of what I am saying, but it is right that hon. Members should have these arguments presented to them, not necessarily to agree with me, but so that they can make up their minds not on my opinions but on facts, which are provided from the proceedings on the Bill, often by witnesses in favour of the Bill.
§ Mr. Ogden
I regret seeking to intervene, but I did say that it seemed like six days on my hon. Friend's speech. He said at the beginning that he spoke as a Socialist. The debate is limited to two hours. If this is my hon. Friend's idea of fair shares for all, speaking for half an hour in a debate limited to two hours, it is not mine.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Yes, but speaking as a Socialist does not mean a half-hour limit to a speech. If my hon. Friend will refer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), of whom I am only a humble disciple, he will see that my right hon. Friend has not limited himself in the past. I assure my hon. Friend that I do not know how long this speech will take. I do not know whether it will take up to the time allowed, less or more. I only know that I prepared it with care. My hon. Friend cannot say that I have so far said anything irrelevant or that I have done anything other than to attempt to adduce evidence from which the House can make up its mind. Though I gladly give way to my hon. Friend, as to any 200 other hon. Member, if I do so he must not then accuse me of making a speech which is perhaps a six-day bore.
Let us see what is said about the use of the revenue. A report of the Countryside Commission to do with the environmental problems of the Bill says:On the assumption that revenue from the terminal would be devoted primarily to the environment on work such as restoring areas of dereliction, landscaping and improvements to the footpath system and public access generally, I do not consider that it has been established that the disadvantages of the land installation are such as to outweigh an established national interest in the terminal scheme as a whole.I am quoting from the Countryside Commission, which says that if there is an established national interest it will not oppose it. I shall come to the established national interest presently.
What the Countryside Commission says is that it does not oppose it provided that revenue is promoted for dealing with the damage done by the establishment. Therefore, what it is saying is that the revenue shall be used to make good the ravages done by the provider of the revenue. Therefore, there will be no net revenue whatever. The revenue will be used up on landscaping.
The fact is—I shall come to this in a little while—that no amount of landscaping whatever can obscure 15 tanks each twice the size of Conway Castle. I shall come to that presently; I shall come to the question whether landscaping is possible. All one can say at the moment is that the Countryside Commission approves it provided it is in the established national interest, if this revenue is used to deal with the ravages. So there will be no net revenue.
Not only will there be no net revenue. The revenue will be wasted. There will be expenditure on the harbour to which the county council is committed. There will also possibly be a loss to tourism. In addition to all that—and I offer this particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby, there will be a loss to the port of Liverpool of £1.3 million per annum. The hon. Member for Barry called Manchester rich. I feel sure that my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby will not say that Liverpool is rich. Yet, under this Bill, his city would lose £1.3 million.
201 The next argument—this is where we come to what the Countryside Commission described as an established national interest—the next argument which we have is that this would be a major help in the national supply of oil. My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey, with justification from his point of view, made a very great deal of this. The Select Committee of another place made its Report on the Bill and approved it should go on, on the basis of a national requirement for the additional supply of oil. That is what the Select Committee of another place based its approval on.
This was also the view of the pollution officer. He based his approval of it on this as well. I am sorry to delay the House, but I wish to find the quotation. I have it here. The pollution officer, Mr. Thomas, said he was in favour of the Bill. One of the reasons why he was in favour of the Bill was as follows. The question was put to him:How do you regard the establishment of this SBM terminal from your point of view as a pollution officer?He replied:What I say is based on the fact that it is my assumption that the oil trade in this area will increase.A curious attitude for a pollution officer to take: he approves something not because of its environmental aspects, with which he is concerned, but because the oil trade will increase.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey said on Second Reading what he said today. I want to quote what he said on Second Reading because this is what people's attitude to this Bill has been based on so far. He said:As to the source of the oil, obviously it will be the Middle East which supplies crude oil in the main to this country and Venezuela." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 121.]The Venezuelan oil companies have just made an announcement, reported a few days ago in the Financial Times, that they are deliberately going to cut down their extraction of oil, firstly because they do not wish their limited supplies to run out too soon; secondly, because of the wish to keep the price level. Therefore, the incursion of oil from Venezuela is an argument which should be treated with great caution.
But if one assumes that the oil is coming from the Middle East and 202 Venezuela, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey says, something follows. Mr. Carter, the principal witness for Shell, whom I have already described with sincerity as the outstanding witness before the Select Committee—a witness of veracity and conviction—said:In part, the justification for the scheme—the financing of the scheme if you like—depends on the freight economies of very large tankers coming from the Middle East.Therefore, he says that the financing of the project from the point of view of Shell depends on oil coming on the long haul in super-tankers. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] That is what he said. I quote not an opponent but a supporter. He was asked:Am I right in saying that the economies in the use of super-tankers exist on the long hauls? A. They are greater on the long hauls, yes. Q. So far as Europe is concerned, am I right in saying that super-tankers at the moment are deployed almost exclusively on the Middle East run, from the Persian Gulf round the Cape? A. Yes, almost exclusively. Q. You would not think of running that on a short run—for example, from Bantry Bay to Rotterdam? A. No. Q. That "—namely, a short run—would be quite out of the question? A. Well, there would be no point in it
§ Mr. Kaufman
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would allow me to complete the argument. We find our friends in strange places. My hon. Friends who are supporters of the Bill find their support in a major capitalist company—Shell.
Mr. Carter was asked:It follows, does it not, from the fact that one does not use one's super-tankers on short hauls, that super-tankers are not going to be used to bring oil from the North Sea to the U.K.? A. I think probably not. Q. That must be right, must it not? A. Well, if the super-tankers exist there seems to be no reason why they should not be used if they are available, but from the planning and economical point of view, for this journey super-tankers would not be used".So Mr. Carter says that super tankers would not be used to bring oil from the North Sea to the single buoy mooring. This is confirmed by a fascinating gentleman, a sea dog, Captain Overschie. He sounds like someone out of Joseph Conrad. He was called by Shell as somebody who was extremely knowledgeable. He was a marine superintendent of the Shell International Petroleum Company.
203 Therefore, he must be knowledgeable about sea matters. He spoke aboutthe wish to avoid bringing an increasing number of tankers into … Liverpoolandthe economies of scale which can be achieved by the use of very large tankers which make an important contribution to keeping down the price of petroleum products.Therefore, the argument that the oil terminal would be helpful to the country because it would assist in bringing in oil is based on two things. The first is that Liverpool is not satisfactory for super tankers. They have to take part in the lightening operations and therefore a single buoy mooring is necessary for super tankers.
The second is that the oil is coming on the long haul from Venezuela and the Middle East, because it is only on long haul trips that there is any point in employing super tankers.
We all know—that was said by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the Conservative Party Conference last week; it was said by a Shell spokesman no less only yesterday, and I quoted this in an intervention in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey; it is not only my argument; it is an argument well known to anybody who reads any reports about the energy supply situation—that we shall rely less in future on long haul oil, first because we have this bonanza in the North Sea which is helpful to the balance of payments and that would come, if it came by sea, on short haul, not in super tankers; and, second, those of us who read the newspapers know full well that there is a major energy crisis in the United States, that the United States is running out of its own oil supplies, that it is having to turn to the Middle East, and that the moment the United States becomes a competitor against us in the Middle East for oil it will get the oil and we will not.
Therefore, because of the energy crisis, because of the finds of North Sea oil, it is utterly clear and incontrovertible—nobody except in the context of the Bill would argue in any other way—that at least half, probably more, of the oil which will come into Britain will come from the North Sea for the foreseeable 204 future, as the Shell oil spokesman says. That means that increased facilities for super tankers and long haul are a nonsense. This is a fact. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who is a member of our Power Group and who is interested in these matters, agrees with me. The whole argument that this is necessary because long haul oil is needed in super tankers is a pernicious nonsense and is out of date.
Shell's own spokesman is reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning to have said this:Mr. David Fleming, the Shell/Esso marine expert and oil adviser to the Bank of Scotland, says at least 60 per cent. of Britain's oil will be provided by the North Sea for as long as can be foreseen.
§ Mr. Farr
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, though it is so long ago since I sought to intervene that I have almost forgotten the point on which I sought to intervene. It was in an endeavour to be helpful, because I wanted to ask him, I now recall, whether he is aware that recent finds of oil in the North Sea, especially the two in August by the Shell-Esso group and the two in September by the Phillips group, have led experts now to forecast that Britain will be a net exporter of crude oil to a significant extent by 1990. This information even supersedes the evidence given to the Committee to which the hon. Gentleman has been referring.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I certainly accept what the hon. Gentleman says, and it is an important argument. I sometimes have my disagreements with the hon. Gentleman. When he spoke earlier about this massive oil find being a reason why oil was not imported, I totally disagreed with him, because I believe that the coming energy crisis means that we must have a much stronger and more viable coal industry.
§ Mr. Gordon Oakes (Widnes)
My hon. Friend makes great play of this 60 per cent. and 40 per cent. What about the 40 per cent. of oil which is being imported? I ask him a question as a North Western Member, as a Manchester Member near to Carrington and to Stanlow. Unless this development takes place in Anglesey, is it not likely that those great refineries in the North West of England will certainly not advance and will probably decline? He will agree that most 205 oil coming into the country, apart from North Sea oil—the 40 per cent.—will come increasingly in big tankers which cannot unload at Liverpool. Therefore, unless there is something like this on Anglesey, the North-West as a whole, including my hon. Friend's constituents, will lose.
§ Mr. Kaufman
My hon. Friend's argument is totally invalid, as I shall show presently. If there was to be any damage at all done to my constituents in Manchester by this Bill not becoming law, I assure him that I would not have opened my mouth. Much as I care for Anglesey, I care more for Manchester and, in the end, I am ready to tolerate any damage to Anglesey, and even that which will give Shell profit, if it is going to help Manchester. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am elected to speak for my constituents, and I shall seek to show that no damage will be done to Manchester, because if 60 per cent. comes from the North Sea, 40 per cent. will come from elsewhere. But if 40 per cent. comes from elsewhere and 60 per cent. from the North Sea, it is clear that there will be increased facilities—facilities greater than those which exist at present.
I must say to my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes that the present facilities can cope with the amount of long-haul oil which is necessary, even including lightening operations. I shall not include that aspect because I believe the whole question of lightening operations is bogus, invented by Shell and the promoters of the Bill to conceal why they want it.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes talks about Manchester, I must tell him that two of my constituents, school girls, spent a holiday in Anglesey and then came to ask me to oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. Laurance Reed
I share my hon. Friend's view about the potential of North Sea oil, and indeed I believe that when we look at the Western seas we shall become self-sufficient. I do not accept his assumption that giant tankers will not necessarily be used to bring the oil ashore. In the evidence from which he quoted the question referred to the possibility of large tankers being used on short hauls from Bantry Bay to Rotterdam—that is a terminal, not an 206 oil field. Later in the evidence the gentleman who was giving evidence did not say that large tankers would not be used to ship oil from oil fields in the North to the shores of Great Britain. In considering his reply to the question posed he was not dealing with the question of whether it should be large versus small tankers, but whether it should be large tankers verus pipelines. Since the evidence was given we have discovered much larger oil fields further north than the Forties and in much deeper water in which depths vary. I know that Shell is considering using large tankers to ship the oil from the fields to Britain.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I must dispose of the Bantry Bay point. I shall not do so with too much zeal because many of my constituents, bless their hearts, come from Bantry Bay. Bantry Bay was used as an example of short haul. I was not suggesting that oil from Bantry Bay was to come to Anglesey or Tranmere, but I was quoting it as an example of the short-haul journey. Whatever else he may say about the North Sea, the fact is that I have not been arguing that the oil will come by pipeline. I am trying to give hon. Members every point I can, because I do not want to argue invalidly. I say that if it is transported by tanker, by sea, and I am not arguing that it will not be other than far less likely, because Mr. Carter said so, and he is the senior witness for Shell. Mr. Carter, the most important witness for Shell, said that supertankers would be uneconomic and that there would be no point in using them. The hon. Member is well known as a great expert on the sea bed, but I am sure that he will not claim to be a greater expert than Mr. Carter, who says that the use of supertankers would be uneconomic and that they would not be used.
§ Mr. Reed
Mr. Carter says that it probably would—and I use the word " probably " because the hon. Member himself used it—be uneconomic to use supertankers in relation to—what? To smaller tankers or to pipelines? That is the critical question to be asked, because if it is in relation to pipelines, if pipelines cannot be used, it would prove desirable and possibly economic to use large tankers.
§ Mr. Kaufman
But the hon. Member is under a entire misapprehension. Mr. Carter was not arguing as between pipelines and supertankers but between ordinary tankers and supertankers, and he was saying that it was regular tankers, but not supertankers, that would be used. So the hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension.
One argument that has been put, and I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) is not now present, but at least my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby is here, and it is important that he should be because one of the arguments in favour of the single-buoy mooring which has been given the greatest weight is that it is necessary because of congestion on the Mersey. But that sea dog, Captain Overschie, has something to say about congestion in the Mersey. He said that one of the reasons for the single buoy mooring was… the wish to avoid bringing an increasing number of tankers into the ever more congested area of Liverpool Bay and the Mersey with the greater risks of collision or stranding, with the major pollution risks this would involve.So there we have Captain Overschie, representative of Shell, saying that one of the arguments is the possibility and the danger of congestion on the Mersey.
But what are we told about congestion on the Mersey? Let us listen to what Captain J. Petticrew, who is extremely experienced in sailing on the Mersey, had to say to the Committee on the Bill. He said:…the South End Docks in Liverpool are going to be closed in the autumn of this year "—that is, 1972:and at the present time they are being very, very sparsely used. Most of the firms in South End Docks have already moved north.He was asked:So in fact, the pattern which you see is one of a decreased amount of shipping in the Mersey?He replied: "Yes."
But let us not just listen to Captain Petticrew but to what is said by the manager of the Mersey Port. He was asked:Do you consider the present level of traffic in the Mersey is going to continue or will it increase or decrease?208 He replied:I think that if the container traffic increases possibly the number of ships will fall away. There has been a steady decline in the shipping over the last five years. It has increased a little since last year, but one hopes that it will improve.That is to say, he wants it to rise, but it is falling. He was asked:I believe it is right that certain installations have been or are about to be closed, and in turn others have been opened. Can you tell us about the ones that are or will be closed?A. The Brunswick system of docks will be closed on 1st September. We are closing the South system of docks and moving that traffic to the North system …. Of course, the closing of the South Docks will mean that the ships which were bound for Brunswick will no longer go there, and to that extent there is more room for the tankers.Further, he was asked:In 1972, can you give us some idea of the number of tankers which discharged at Tranmere?A. During the year ended 30th April, 1972, 220 tankers discharged at Tranmere; that is, an average of one every 1.6 days.Thus, we are told by the Mersey port manager himself that there is less shipping on the Mersey, that traffic is declining on the Mersey, yet the argument put forward by the seafaring advocate for the Bill was based on increased congestion on the Mersey. That, he said, is why the SBM is necessary.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment, but I just wish to complete this part of my argument. One of the arguments is that there is danger in the use of the Mersey, a danger to the lightering operations. I shall come to the lightering operations.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I promised to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride), but first I want to finish this part of my argument. I undertake to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I must be permitted to finish this paragraph. Although we are told that the Mersey must be saved, it is also admitted by the promoters of the Bill in their advocacy that even if the single buoy mooring is introduced, and even if it is working fully, there will he 35 days in every year when the single 209 buoy mooring cannot operate and the port of Liverpool will have to be used. Thus, this port, whether too congested or less congested—they say that it is too congested, which is why we need the single buoy mooring, although they have proved that it is getting less and less congested—will have to be used on one day in every 10 in the year, on the admission of the promoters themselves.
§ Mr. McBride
In his preamble to the main argument, my hon. Friend, perhaps inadvertently, forgot two important matters. First, there is congestion in relation to shipping. I know something about this, having worked in shipbuilding before coming to the House. There is the question of physical limitations. Tankers are getting larger. There is the question of turnround, and the question of water below the keel. My hon. Friend cannot say that that will be available, because it is not.
Furthermore, in his argument so far my hon. Friend, although he talked about the economy, ignored—again, perhaps, inadvertently—the assertion by the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry regarding the improvement to the economy to be gained from the cost-effectiveness of using large tankers at a single buoy mooring. If he knows and acknowledges these things, my hon. Friend falls between all the stools, does he not?
§ Mr. Kaufman
As my hon. Friend knows, I have a deep respect and affection for him. I never thought a day would come when he would quote a Tory Minister against one of his own hon. Friends. [HON. MEMBERS: "You are joining the Tories."] I am not joining with them. They are joining with me. They can say what they like. I am opposing this scheme as a Socialist. They can have whatever reasons they like. I am opposing it as a Socialist, because I regard it as an outrage.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
The hon. Member mentioned a figure of £1,300,000 as a loss to be suffered by the Mersey if the single buoy mooring is established at Anglesey. How is that sum made up? No doubt, if the single buoy mooring is established at Anglesey, there will be further redundancies in the dock industry, and we know 210 the present situation in that industry, particularly in the North-West.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I hope that the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Nicholas Winterton) will forgive me if I leave that matter to a little later because I have certain other arguments which I wish to put before the House.
§ Mr. Gower
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's deep interest in this matter, but does he not feel, in view of the number of hon. Members who may want to say a few words, including hon. Members on his side of the House who represent Welsh constituencies, that he is taking up an unreasonable amount of time?
§ Mr. Kaufman
No, I do not. This is a matter of prime interest to the country. There is involved £20 million of taxpayers' money. If the debate does not finish tonight the House can resume it on another day.
§ Mr. Emery
It would be wrong if it were to go out of the House, as the hon. Gentleman has suggested before, that £20 million of taxpayers' money is being granted for this purpose. That would have been the case under the last Government's grant aid but it is not the case under the present Government. We have been able to correct that, so the hon. Gentleman's figures are slightly out of date. The only aid which would come, because it is not on the pipelining side, would be on the free depreciation, on the profitability that there might be. It is free depreciation, not grant aid.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I thought the matter was clear. If I continue until the time lapses tonight, I hope to be able to resume when we continue on another occasion, as I have far from exhausted my arguments.
I now come to the question of spillage which seemed to be one of great importance to my right hon. Friend the Member 211 for Anglesey and the hon. Member for Conway.
§ Mr. McBride
On a point of order. My hon. Friend has referred to the debate being continued on another day. Does the term "another day" mean in the present Session or can it be construed as applying to the next Session?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
In certain circumstances it can be continued on another day. That is what I said.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Private Bills, as my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) knows, are not subject to the troubles with afflict public Bills, and can be carried over from one Session to the next. That being so, we do not face the problem which would have applied if the Bill were a Government Bill or a private Member's Bill. The Bill is not subject to the guillotine, the death sentence which applies to Bills at the end of the Session.
Although I do not make much of spillages, there is involved the propriety of Shell Oil and its bona fides. In the Special Report from the Select Committee of another place, which recommended that the Bill be allowed to proceed, we were told at paragraph 60:
Upon this aspect evidence was given by the promoters that in 1970 the Shell Company handled 65 million tons of oil, involving 1,000 ships, through 16 single buoy moorings around the world with two recorded incidents of spillage.
It was on that basis that another place recommended that the Bill should go forward. But then two matters which had not been available were drawn to the attention of another place, and it had to issue a further Special Report. The Report said:
The Committee feel bound to put on record their surprise that an organisation of the international standing of the Royal Dutch Shell Group should have found such difficulty in supplying statistics on spillage and pollution which had occurred in single buoy mooring Terminals under their control. This failure has had the result of obliging the Committee to consider once again in detail matters which had been explained to them in evidence on a previous occasion, and upon which they had formed certain conclusions on an inadequate basis.
§ I will not quote what they said about single point buoy moorings—
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes, 66, Noes, 7.211
|Division No. 336.]||AYES||[12.14 a.m.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hooson, Emlyn||Pentland, Norman|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Percival, Ian|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Probert, Arthur|
|Bray, Ronald||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne,W.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Richard, Ivor|
|Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury)||John, Brynmor||Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Kinnock, Neil||Rowlands, Ted|
|Cockeram, Eric||Lane, David||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Concannon, J. D.||McBride, Neil||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Mackie, John||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Doig, Peter||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Watkins, David|
|Ellis, Tom||Milne, Edward||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Emery, Peter||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Ford, Ben||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Golding, John||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Gower, Raymond||Normanton, Tom||Mr. Gordon Oakes and|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Ogden, Eric||Mr. Gwynoro Jones|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Skinner, Dennis||Mr. John Farr and|
|Hardy, Peter||Whitehead, Phillip||Mr. Nicholas Winterton|
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)
I declare that the Question is not decided in the affirmative because it was not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Order No. 31.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask whether it is within your responsibility to draw the attention of whoever is responsible in the House to the absurdity of taking Private Bills of this significance at the end of the day and not earlier?
§ It being after Two hours after the commencement of Proceedings on the Bill, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed this day.