HC Deb 06 May 1980 vol 984 cc232-4
Mr. Spearing

I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 2, line 26, after 'London', insert 'Authority'.

As this is the last amendment, perhaps I shall have better luck with it.

The short title says: This Act may be cited as the Port of London (Financial Assistance) Act 1980. For reasons that I have made abundantly clear both on Second Reading and in Committee, I believe that that is misleading, and that it should read "Port of London Authority (Financial Assistance) Act". I do not think that I need give further reasons. I believe that that would more accurately describe the Bill's contents. It would, perhaps, draw attention to the fact that the port of London is not the Port of London Authority, and that would be better for all concerned.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I acknowledge the validity of the hon. Gentleman's point. I appreciate that the port of London is not the same as the Port of London Authority. The hon. Gentleman has done a service to point out that there is a great deal of traffic within the port of London that is not handled by the authority. But that should not affect the title of the Bill. There is a very good technical reason why it would be wrong, and a misdescription of the Bill, to insert the word "Authority", as the hon. Gentleman suggests.

The limitation of the title to the PLA would mean that it did not cover clause 1(3), which is about the reimbursement by the Secretary of State for Employment to the National Dock Labour Board. It is important that we give proper legitimacy to the payments that have been made to the board to reimburse it for severance payments to registered dock workers in the port of London. If the title were restricted, as the amendment proposes, it would imply that the authority was the only public body able to receive financial assistance under the Bill. The board must be considered, and for that reason the broader title has been chosen.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that the title is technically correct. It does not mean that we have ignored his reminder that there are activities going on within the port of London other than those conducted by the authority. It would be inaccurate too to make the amendment, which would misdescribe an important provision of the Bill.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to the Minister for that technical explanation, which I understand and accept. He referred to clause 1(3). I may not have heard the amounts related to payments to the National Dock Labour Board, which is not then in respect of employees of the PLA, or those whom it inherited. I have no doubt that there are a few, and therefore I think that the Minister is technically correct, although once again, for reasons of a quirk of history, people will no doubt equate one with the other, because most of the moneys go via the accounts of the PLA, and most of the rest of the Bill applies to it.

But, because of what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with an amendment; read the Third time and passed.

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