HC Deb 26 February 1976 vol 906 c603
5. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the farming and horticultural industries in relation to the possible effects of the Dock Work Regulation Bill; and what reply he has given thereto.

Mr. Peart

A number of organisations expressed concern about the possible effects. Before the Bill was published I replied that their views were being considered by the Secretary of State for Employment and myself. Afterwards, I referred them, where appropriate, to the provisions requiring the National Dock Labour Board to consult me in regard to food storage.

Mr. Farr

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House why he has not been to the Cabinet to tell the Prime Minister and his cronies that he will not permit the agriculture and horticulture industries to be held to ransom by a group of dockers? Will he tell the Cabinet that he will permit the passage of the Bill only over his dead body?

Mr. Peart

No. The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) is becoming very extravagant. We had a full day's debate on these matters on Second Read-in. I shall be consulted adequately.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the dock workers could take strike action at any time, even at this moment, if they so desired, and could do precisely what the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has said? Therefore, is not the hon. Gentleman's suggestion absolute nonsense?

Mr. Peart

For once I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Wells

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable anxiety among fruit growers and others who maintain large cold stores within the prescribed mileages of dock towns, and especially in Kent, which is, in effect, a peninsula?

Mr. Peart

I accept that there are anxieties among some hon. Members. However, as I have said, I shall be consulted fully at every stage.