HC Deb 07 May 1973 vol 856 cc14-5
14. Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to receive the report on Welsh ports from the Welsh Council.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I understand that the council is still working on some aspects of its report, and I cannot say when it is likely to be ready for submission to me.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that all the major Welsh ports are capable of considerable expansion, with consequential job opportunities in areas of high unemployment? Is he also aware that Holyhead, which is the largest port in North Wales, has substantial unused potential and could take container traffic, not only from Ireland but from Europe and the United States as well? Will the Secretary of State do two things: first, oppose the exorbitantly expensive white elephant of a Channel Tunnel, which is now likely to cost £850 million, and, secondly, when he gets the report, study it carefully and take steps to stimulate the growth of South Wales ports and Holyhead in North Wales?

Mr. Thomas

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's assessment of the potentialities of ports in Wales. The investment which has been made in freight handling facilities at Holyhead and in the repair of Britannia Bridge is proof of the importance attached to the rôle of the port. The question of a Channel Tunnel is not one for me.

Sir A. Meyer

Will my right hon. and learned Friend be vigilant to ensure that small ports such as Mostyn, which play a vital part in the Welsh economy, are not driven out of business by having to adopt the kind of working methods which have brought the larger ports to a standstill, or by having intolerable conditions imposed upon them?

Mr. Thomas

Yes. As I have told the Flint County Council, I think that a port such as Mostyn has potentialities.

Mr. Ellis

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consult the Breton authorities with a view to having the recently established service from Roscoff to Plymouth extended to one of the South Wales ports?

Mr. Thomas

I will look into that.