HL Deb 20 February 1958 vol 207 cc885-906

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

3.12 p.m.


My Lords, it may seem intrusive that a new Member of your Lordships' House, only a day or so after his introduction, should be making his maiden speech and commending to your Lordships the Second Reading of a Government Bill. I know that you will be aware how much I rely to-day on the kindness and forbearance which is always extended to one who speaks for the first time in your Lordships' House. If I show, as no doubt I shall, that. I am uninstructed in your customs and usages, I humbly ask for your indulgence. For my part, I can only do my best not to make too great a demand on your Lordships' time and patience. I will say what I have to say as shortly as I can; and, fortunately for me, the Bill which I shall ask to be read a second time to-day is one which I think will commend itself to your Lordships.

This is a Bill to set up a Conservancy Authority to look after the waters of Milford Haven. Here in the south-west corner of Wales is one of the last great natural harbours of our country, still undeveloped, where there is plenty of room for great ships, as large as any afloat or planned, to come and go at all times of the tide. There are substantial economies to be secured from the use of very big ships, especially for carrying bulk cargoes such as oil and ore, and we as a great seagoing nation must be ready and equipped to secure our full share in the benefits to be derived from these significant new trends in world shipping. This is why the outlook at Milford Haven has recently changed.

Over the years until now, Milford Haven has been in the main a fishing port and naval dock. But now two oil terminals are about to be built there, capable of dealing with tankers of up to 100,000 tons or more; and, indeed, as large as any yet projected. There is the Esso Petroleum Company's terminal and refinery, to be built on the north shore, and the British Petroleum Company's pipe-line terminal on the south shore. Parliamentary powers for both these projects were secured in Private Bills last session, and work is about to go forward. Then there is the Milford Docks Company, which has been for many years in the Haven and which has now secured Parliamentary powers to construct major ship-repairing facilities on the northern shores. There is also at present before this House a Private Bill promoted by the Angle Ore and Transport Company which seeks powers to build a terminal at Milford Haven for the loading and unloading of ore ships, including giant bulk carriers of iron ore.

All this points to a great increase in activity and a substantial increase in the size and number of ships using the Haven. If the best use is to be made of these waters, they must be properly looked after and administered, and the navigation and the movement of ships within them regulated in the, general interest. The Government's view is that this can best be done by a statutory body charged with the requisite duty and powers. This is what the Bill before us to-day sets out to create.

My Lords, the Milford Haven Conservancy Board which the Bill seeks to establish is to be purely a conservancy body. It will not provide or operate dock facilities for handling cargoes, or for unloading or loading, repairing or servicing ships. These functions are to be undertaken as a matter of ordinary commercial process by the oil companies and others who are to construct docks and other installations within the Haven. The Conservancy Board's task will be to control the movement of ships within the Haven, so as to avoid congestion and delay, and to provide common services, such as moorings, buoys and other sea marks, navigational aids and communications, and to maintain and improve the main navigable channels. The Board will also have powers to ensure that the users of the Haven, and those who are authorised to do works below high water mark within it, shall not do things detrimental to navigation of the Haven.

The heart of the Bill is contained in Clause 1 and the First Schedule. Subsection (1) of Clause 1 establishes the Board, defines the limits of its jurisdiction and lays down its general duty, which is to take such steps as the Board may from time to time consider necessary or expedient to maintain, improve, protect and regulate the navigation, and in particular the deep water channels of the Haven. The constitution of the Board is set out in practical detail in Part I of the First Schedule. There are to be a chairman, appointed by the Minister, and seventeen other members. This is large enough to provide for the proper spread of interests, representation and experience, and yet small enough to work efficiently. We have given a great deal of close thought to the constitution of the Board. It has been designed to work as an independent and fully responsible statutory body, and to provide a fair and proper balance in its membership between public and private interest. I may say that in another place there was general support for the structure of the Board and, subject to two Amendments of detail that were made, a large measure of agreement as to its composition.

There was, however, a suggestion that the balance of the Board should be tipped a little more in favour of the public over the private interest among its members, and my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation promised to consider that point yet again. Your Lordships will see that, apart from the Chairman and one other member to be appointed by the Minister at his discretion, there are sixteen members of the Board. Of these, seven represent, so to speak, the public interest—namely, the representatives of the Admiralty, Trinity House, the Pembrokeshire County Council; and there is the representative of organised labour. This produces a fair representation of the public and private interest in the main body of the Board. In choosing a chairman and one other member in addition, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport will keep the balance of the Board well in mind. I should like to say, therefore, that after careful consideration of the points made in another place about the constitution, the Minister remains convinced that the representation on the Board is now right; and the Government do not propose to make any further changes in it.

There is one further point I should mention in relation to the constitution of the Board. In Parts III and IV of the First Schedule there are provisions for the Minister, after not less than seven years, to introduce elections for choosing either the shipping representatives or the representative of the waterside frontagers on the Board or both these groups of representatives. This provision is designed for the future, should substantial further developments take place and new enterprises spring up in the Haven. The electoral machinery would not be introduced unless there were a sufficient number of separate interests in the Haven to provide a broad and balanced franchise, and there is provision, if necessary, for a local inquiry to be held first. The holding of elections of representatives of the shipowners and the waterside frontagers is a well-established process with all other major harbour and conservancy authorities. There is nothing unusual about it. At the moment, there are not sufficient separate interests in the Haven for an electoral process, or to provide the broad and balanced franchise on which it could properly depend. But we ought to provide for the future.

The only other part of Clause 1 of basic importance is subsection (6), which deals with amenity. I know that there has been concern that the development of Milford Haven will mar the natural beauty of the area, part of which is within the Pembroke Coast National Park, and may have serious effects on the wild life and other natural things of this beautiful part of Wales. For these reasons the Government have been most careful to provide in the Bill special amenity safeguards that are not normally found in harbour legislation. Subsection (6) of Clause 1 imposes on the Board a statutory duty to have regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty, of conserving fauna and flora and geological features of special interest, and of ensuring an easy passage at all times for salmon and sea-trout. There are also provisions in Clause 4 for protection of the proposed Pembrokeshire coastal footpath.

Not only have these specific statutory safeguards been embodied in the Bill, but in the constitution of the Board special weight has been given to the care for amenity. A representative of the National Parks Commission is to have a seat on the Board, and the Planning Authority for the area—that is, the Pembrokeshire County Council—will also have three members on the Board. All this is designed to ensure that all questions affecting the natural beauty and wild life of the Haven and its approaches will be given full weight by the Board in its discussions and decisions.

The rest of the clauses in the Bill are simply ancillary to the basic and important provisions of Clause 1 and the First Schedule, on which I thought your Lordships would wish me to spend some little time. The remaining clauses provide powers very similar in every way to the usual powers possessed and used by practically all harbour and conservancy authorities. Clause 2 provides for the Conservancy Authority to buy land by agreement if they require any for their purposes. Clauses 3 and 4 enable the Board to do works and to dredge, and to control the works and dredging carried out by others within the Haven. Clauses 5 and 6 give the Board power to raise wrecks within the Haven and, subject to conditions, to recover the cost of doing so from the owners of the sunken ship. All these powers are quite usual and well founded on precedent, and necessary for the ordinary day-to-day functions of a conservancy authority.

Clause 8 provides powers for the Board to make by-laws for the day-to-day management and administration of the Haven, including the day-to-day traffic control of shipping. Clauses 10 and 11 and the Third Schedule give the Board power to charge dues on ships using the Haven, and to make charges for any specific services which it provides for shipping. As the Board's activities are for the benefit of ships using the Haven, it is clearly right that its revenue should come from shipowners. The maximum charges which the Board can make are governed by the Third Schedule, and the maximum dues chargeable can be varied from time to time, up or down, by the Minister, on the application of any interested party.

A suggestion was made in another place that the Third Schedule to the Bill should be amended to require the Board to charge a lower due for ships entering or departing from the Haven in ballast, or calling at the Haven only for bunkers. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport has given careful consideration to this suggestion, but has reached the conclusion that the Bill should not be amended in this respect. It is true that harbour authorities frequently charge lower dues on ships in ballast or calling for bunkers, and in some cases have a statutory duty to do so; but this is not so often the case with conservancy authorities, who, after all, have to provide the same services to a ship whether it is carrying or calling for cargo or not.

It is the Government's view that the decision whether to charge lower dues to any class of ship should be left to the Board, as a matter of commercial judgment in the circumstances at any time, rather than that it should be imposed on the Board by Statute. A vessel calling at a port for ballast or for bunkers is going about its normal trading business, and is therefore not in quite the same position as a ship which is compelled to enter a port through stress of weather, or which is unable to operate on a commercial voyage because it is in need of repair. Those are the two usual cases where lower dues are imposed by Statute. What has also weighed with my right honourable friend is that an amendment to require lower dues for ships in ballast would have a serious effect on the revenue of the Board, and on the structure of the Third Schedule which fixes the maximum dues. A great deal of the shipping in the Haven will either come in or go out in ballast; and to give a concession on this point would mean a substantial revision in an upward direction of the present proposed maximum dues.

My Lords, I am conscious of having dealt at some length with this rather detailed matter on Second Reading, but I thought it might be helpful at this stage to put the Government's view on this important point at the earliest opportunity after my right honourable friend had promised in another place to consider it. The rest of the Bill provides for ordinary financial and procedural matters. There is nothing novel or difficult in the remaining clauses. I hope that, within the modest limits of a maiden speech, I have said enough to prove that this is a Bill which deserves a Second Reading. As I said, Milford Haven is one of the last of our comparatively accessible deep-water harbours still virtually undeveloped; and there is already a clear need for a Conservancy Board to take up its duties there. The Board will have a positive part to play in the development of the Haven and the safeguarding of this great national asset, and I respectfully commend the Bill to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Brecon.)

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, my first words must be words of congratulation to the noble Lord, Lord Brecon. He has performed what we all know from experience to be a difficult task, as well as a trying ordeal; and if I may say so, he has got off to a very fine start. May I also congratulate him on his appointment. He must be a man of courage to accept the appointment. He and I know Wales, and we know the many problems confronting us as a people. Knowing that he knows Wales, I admire his courage. He had a rather chilly and frigid reception through the country. That was not his fault: that happened because Wales had come to the conclusion that it was going to have a Secretary of State as Scotland has. If the noble Lord had been Secretary of State, he would not have received the same frigid, cold reception. We are sometimes told that there are people in Wales who find it difficult to agree about anything. I heard a Welshman say, in Welsh: "There is only one thing we can agree about, and that is to disagree." That was not the case concerning a Secretary of State. Wales was never more unanimous, more united, on any question than on the appointment of a Secretary of State for Wales. Wales is still unable to understand why she is not treated in the same way as Scotland.

Might I remind the noble Lord that Wales has shown unity in another sphere? He will know—it does not help him a lot, but he will know it—that for over twenty-five years, without a single exception, out of her 36 Members of Parliament Wales has sent 27 Labour Members. There is no disagreement there: 75 per cent. of the Parliamentary representation in Wales for well over twenty-five years has been Labour—Socialist. It is not easy for a Conservative Minister to give a policy that meets the wishes of the Labour Party, and that is one of our difficulties in Wales. We in Wales have decided that the best thing for the country is a Labour Party policy, but we are getting a Conservative policy, and that is why disagreement prevails up and down the country.

As regards this Bill, I agree with the Minister. We as a Party have no fault whatever to find with the Bill. It is a necessary Bill and I would say it is an adequate Bill. It meets all that is necessary at the moment. I was very pleased indeed that the Minister, with cogency and clarity, went out of his way not to over-emphasise the benefits, either immediate or ultimate, that might accrue from the Bill. He was very wise indeed not to do that. It is difficult to assess what the immediate result will be in the area; it is still more difficult to assess what the ultimate results will be for the country. But I believe that the ultimate results will be substantial and beneficial, not only to Wales but to the whole of the United Kingdom.

To turn to one or two of the matters with which the noble Lord dealt, I take first the constitution of the Board. I think he will agree that this Bill on Second Reading in your Lordships' House is a better Bill than we had in the Commons on Second Reading; the process of the Committee stage improved the Bill, because both sides of the House were anxious to make as good a measure as possible. The noble Lord made reference to what the Minister had said regarding the constitution of the Board. He did not tell us the result of the rethinking which was being done by the Minister of Transport. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, may find it possible to tell us what the Minister of Transport thinks now with regard to what he said then.

The matter was raised by my right honourable friend, Mr. Ness Edwards. He said this [OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), Vol.579 (No. 27), col 1385]: What we want on this Board is a much better balance between the private and public interests, but as the hon. Gentleman has come so far to meet us on the points which we made on Second Reading, we would ask him to consider these representations now and we suggest that between now and a further stage of the Bill, perhaps in another place, he should meet some of the points that we are putting, particularly with regard to this balance of private interest as against public interest, and give either to the public interest or to the trade union interest a slightly improved representation to make up for the unbalance that exists between the private and public interests. The reply given by the Minister of Transport was this: I will certainly consider it again, but I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. We have tried very hard to meet the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends and we have had further consultations. I think this seems to be about the right balance, bearing in mind, as I think the right hon. Gentleman concedes, that it is the private interest that is putting up all the money. I will certainly look at it again without giving any undertaking. I want to ask the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, what is the reply to-day following that further consideration.

On the question of amenities the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, knows just as well as I know that we have suffered in Wales from despoliation by industry. Industrialisation has meant destroying many of our beauty spots. There is natural anxiety in the area that that should not happen at Milford Haven. I agree that the provisions in the Bill seem adequate, but I hope that the noble Lord will see to it, when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, that its provisions are carried out to the letter. We are anxious that the amenities should not be by any means interfered with. The most this Bill could achieve, to my mind, would be to help in the solution of the unemployment problem in the area, if possible providing full employment, but at the same time I want it to provide full enjoyment of the beauty spots.

We as a Party find no reason to criticise the Bill, and we are not prepared to go into unnecessary criticism. As I have said, the new Minister has got off to a very good start. But I am an older man than he is, and I may tell him that a good start does not always prelude a glorious finish, especially in an obstacle race; and if ever he was in an obstacle race in his life, he is in one now. He will meet many big obstacles on his journey as Minister. For the sake of that country of ours and its gallant people I wish him well, and I trust he will finish the race in as glorious a manner as he started it.

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself this afternoon in the somewhat peculiar position in which some other noble Lords have found themselves in recent years: I have already made several speeches in this Chamber, but this is the first time that I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships, and I hope I may claim your Lordships' indulgence.

I am glad that the first speech that I make here is in support of a Bill which deals with Milford Haven. Milford Haven is the outstanding feature of the county which I had the honour to represent in another place for many years. I am also glad that the Bill is non-controversial. No doubt, this will be surprising to many people, in view of the fact that it deals with Welsh water. The noble Lord, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, referred to the great natural advantages of Milford Haven. May I just give your Lordships one or two details of this great water? It is an arm of the sea that penetrates many miles into the heart of the county. It has a channel averaging some 400 yards in width with a depth of six fathoms extending for some eight to nine miles from the mouth. Even more important, I think, is the fact that about three miles from the southern limit of the Board's responsibilities there is a channel which I believe is 250 yards wide, on the average, with a depth of ten fathoms and extending for 3½ miles. On top of that, as it is nearly completely surrounded by the county it is obviously a place of perfect shelter.

These advantages are not new, but what is new is what we have just heard: the increased tonnages of so many of the ships to-day, particularly those that are engaged in carrying oil and ore. Speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill in another place, the Minister of Transport gave some figures which show that, either built or projected, at this moment there are some 260 tankers with a tonnage of over 40,000. Of these, he said, some 59 were over 60,000 tons, and two were actually 86.000 tons. It is obvious that the coming of these large tonnage ships presents a serious problem which needs urgent consideration. We know that great developments are already foreshadowed, and I hope that many more will follow. Developments on such a scale will obviously create many serious problems, and I should like to congratulate the Government on taking action before these various schemes have been put into effect, rather than afterwards, and to say that the action they have taken will ensure consideration and co-operation between whatever undertakings are there, the safeguarding of navigation and the conservancy of Milford as a great port.

It is no exaggeration to say that Milford Haven and the county that almost surrounds it together make this area one of the most beautiful spots in Britain. So I very much welcome the provision in the Bill which places on the Board the duty of doing everything possible to preserve the natural amenities of this area. Unfortunately, as your Lordships will agree, there are far too many examples in this country of what unregulated development can do to the beauties of nature. Nevertheless, although I am very glad that this provision is in the Bill, we have to face the fact that if future development in this country can be allowed only in areas where no natural beauty exists, we shall not be able to support 50 million of people in these Islands.

As your Lordships know, Milford Haven lies in the area which is known as West South Wales. It is an area where unemployment has been a serious problem for many years, even during these years of so-called full employment. I personally, during my experiences in that constituency, have known 37 per cent. of the insured population of the county to be unemployed—almost double the rate for the rest of this country. And at that time, of the two towns on the very shores of this Haven, the town of Milford Haven itself had an unemployment figure of 45 per cent., while Pembroke Dock had the appalling figure of one in two of the insured population unemployed.

So, whilst I am much in favour of conserving the beauty of this part, I could not help wondering what would have been the feeling supposing that this Bill, or these developments, had been under consideration at the time of which I have just been speaking, and supposing it had been decided that nothing could be done because the beauty of this area had at all costs to be preserved. I do not know what real beauty there could be in any area of this country where one out of every two of the insured population was prevented from earning his livelihood through no fault of his own. The Bill before us is designed to develop this great natural harbour as we all want to see it developed. At the same time, it is provided in the Bill that everything possible should be done to preserve natural amenity. I wholeheartedly support the Bill, and I believe that as a result of its passing we shall see developments which will bring great benefit not only to the area itself but to the country as a whole.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to my happy lot to be the first speaker from this side of the House to have the opportunity of congratulating my noble friend Lord Brecon on his maiden speech in this House. He acquitted himself in his task, if I may be allowed to say so, with great dignity and with an obvious sense of the code of procedure in your Lordships' House. I feel sure that if he can be spared from his office in Cardiff, to which I understand he is to be relegated for most of his time, and still can give us the benefit of his experience and advice, we shall all look forward to the next time he addresses us. Wales has nothing to fear if she can produce men of his calibre to take part in our public life. Whether or not he might have been the Secretary of State for Welsh Affairs, I do not know. But when the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, said that that was what Wales wanted, I could not help reflecting that the Labour Party had six or seven years of complete power in the Government of this country, yet, somehow or other, overlooked this very pressing problem for Wales.

It also falls to my lot to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, on his maiden speech. This is a different matter. The noble Viscount is accustomed to speaking in Parliament and, as we know, was a distinguished representative for the County of Pembroke for many years in another place, bearing a name famous throughout all Wales for all time. We welcome him also to our deliberations and shall hope to hear him on frequent occasions in the future.

My Lords, being the possessor of a strong sense of history, I find a peculiar satisfaction in making a few remarks upon Milford Haven, for it was at Milford Haven that Henry Tudor landed in this country to turn himself into King Henry VII. If I may be allowed a personal reference, it was my forbear who met him. Those of your Lordships who have read Sir Winston Churchill's latest book will have read the story of how he stood under the bridge in order to fulfil his promise to Richard III that the usurper should land only over his body. This was fulfilling the letter but not entirely the spirit. But as Her present Majesty occupies the throne at this time because of this act, he may perhaps be forgiven for a certain amount of sharp practice 400 years ago.

We welcome this Bill for the development of Milford Haven, the last great natural harbour that we have undeveloped. Pembroke Dock has suffered greatly in the last number of years. The dockyard has closed; the infantry battalion that used to be stationed there, and which I believe was known as the "Foreign Legion" when in residence, was withdrawn; and altogether the whole area began to feel rather forlorn and lost. I am extremely glad that we are now able to see a new hope for South-West Wales to play its part in the still foreseeable industrial development of this country.

I want to ask one or two questions of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who I understand is to reply. I was interested to see in Clause 2 that there is no power of compulsory purchase of land. This may be all right and necessary, or shall I say adequate, in a Conservancy Bill; but, odd though it may seem, I should be ready to agree to the compulsory purchase of land for necessary purposes, always provided, of course, that the proper rate of compensation was paid, and at the current market value. But the Board also have power to retain land which is not necessary for their immediate purposes. I would only add here that, if that is done, the Conservancy should take every care to see that large areas of land do not become derelict and fertile sources of weeds and thistles for the surrounding agricultural land.

There is also a phrase which is interesting in regard to acquiring land from outside the Haven. The Haven itself is defined quite clearly in the Bill, but what does "outside" mean? Would it be going too far to say that the Board could acquire an office in London, for instance; or is the meaning within a reasonable distance of the shores of the Haven? Another point which I believe is of great interest to neighbouring foreshore owners is Clause 4, dealing with blasting. I hope that your Lordships will not consider these to be points more suitable for the Committe stage. If we could get them cleared now that would obviate the necessity for raising them at another stage of the Bill. I believe they are quite important. The Conservancy have power to blast: any rock in the sea in or near any approach to the haven,". How far away is "any approach"? That is a matter of interest to those who have property in the neighbourhood. I am not suggesting that that should be stopped, but if we may have the answer to these questions now we shall have a clear picture of what is intended.

My last point is a question which has already been mentioned: that of amenity and the relationship of this development to the National Parks and to wild life in the neighbourhood. A few weeks ago your Lordships declined to give a Second Reading to a Bill which I introduced for the better destruction of rabbits, and I am therefore all the more pleased today to be able to make a passionate appeal for the wild sea bird life in the neighbourhood. It is a very remarkable haven still: Skomer Island, the Stack Rock and Grassholme are the breeding ground of many thousands of sea birds of countless variety. I agree that they are not inside the Haven, but the danger to-day is oil. In 1955 Parliament passed the Oil in Navigable Waters Act and I very much hope that this Conservancy will either become the authority for, or see to, the enforcement of control of the discharge of oil, not only from tankers but from any other ships propelled by that fuel.

Your Lordships will know that oil discharged even several miles out to sea can be swept in and great patches can appear on the rocks and beaches. There have already been complaints from bathers along the coast that pebbles on the beaches are spotted with oil and that if one sits down one is likely to get up with small spots of oil over one's garments. Nothing is more pathetic than to see birds struggling in oil, unable to move and doomed to die. I hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government will draw the close attention of the new Conservancy to the need strictly to enforce the provisions regarding the discharge of oil at sea. With those remarks, I give my support to a Second Reading of the Bill and wish Milford Haven a prosperous future.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I feel very humble, rising to speak after four eloquent Welshmen, for although I bear a Welsh title I am afraid I am only an Englishman. It is, however, a great pleasure for me to rise in support of this Bill which should safeguard the development of Milford Haven and undoubtedly assure that this anchorage eventually will become one of the most modern commercial ports in the British Isles, if not in the whole of Europe, capable of discharging, bunkering, dry docking and repairing the largest super-tankers afloat. That must undoubtedly bring employment and prosperity to many thousands of Welshmen.

The only disadvantage that I see in this development scheme is that the beauty of the neighbourhood is bound to be affected, those unsightly oil storage tanks will be dotted around the countryside, and in future an oil refinery may be built. I am sure that many noble Lords will have seen at Fawley, on Southhampton Water, how these necessary but ugly excrescences can mar the beauty of the countryside. I trust that this House will ensure that the Bill will, so far as practicable, protect the beauty of the Haven and also ensure the easy passage through its waters of salmon and sea trout ascending to their spawning grounds. I am a little doubtful whether the interests of dry fly and fresh water fishermen have been sufficiently protected in this Bill. There is also the question of oil pollution which has just been mentioned by my noble friend. I endorse every word that he has said. The death and destruction caused to wild fowl by oil is terrible. It affects not only wild life but also people who do and will use the waters of the Haven for swimming and boating, for oil can completely ruin those amenities.

My grandfather, the first Marquess, was one of the first to realise the potentialities of this Haven, which even then, thirty years ago, was one of the finest deep-water anchorages in the British Isles but with very few of the shipping facilities which are necessary for a modern port. When, in 1917, the Royal Family Anglicised their names, my grandfather—who was then Prince Louis of Battenberg—wanted to choose a naval title, having served all his adult life in the Royal Navy and risen to be head of it. The names of the great naval ports had been taken by previous admirals for their titles, however, so he chose Milford Haven, as it was then just coming into naval prominence as a convoy assembly point. He saw clearly the future possibilities of this port, but unfortunately he died before he was able to do anything about the development that he had in mind. I am sure that had he been alive to-day he would have been delighted and enthralled to see the developments which are being planned for this sea port, whose name he proudly took and which I now bear.

3.57 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the two noble Lords who have made their maiden speeches to-day. The task of the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, was, I hope, facilitated by the fact that he was introducing a fairly non-controversial Bill. I shudder to think what he would have felt like as one who is not a Parliamentarian, had he been introducing a very controversial Bill, as was the case the last time I had to congratulate a noble Lord on his maiden speech. On that occasion he took the Oath and straightaway introduced a very controversial measure; and I was in some difficulty in following him because the tradition of this House is not to be controversial so far as a maiden speech is concerned. I refer to the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor. But he was well able to look after himself, with a right to reply.

The noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, is speaking in familiar surroundings, of course, for he has spoken in this Chamber on many occasions before—as I had done. I believe that we have actually crossed swords before, but I do not propose to cross swords with him on this occasion. My sole reason for rising, apart from the courtesies in which I have just indulged with great pleasure, is to refer to the section of the Bill to which every noble Lord who has spoken has referred—that concerned with the important matter of preserving the natural beauty of the area. I was responsible for the National Parks Act and therefore I have some slight interest in the matter.

I realise that it is very difficult to reconcile the interests of industry, and particularly of industry such as this, with the preservation of natural beauty; and the Commissioners will have a very difficult task in carrying out the provisions of Clause 2 (6). But I submit that the two aspects are, not entirely irreconcilable. I think that the noble Marquess was a little pessimistic: in suggesting that they were entirely irreconcilable. Probably in this country there is no case where anything such as we are proposing to erect in Milford Haven is a thing of beauty. But in other countries there are towns which are great ports but which are not at all ugly, and where a good deal of trouble has been taken to preserve beauty. If I had to mention one, it might be Rotterdam. I think no one would suggest that Rotterdam, especially the new Rotterdam, is a really ugly place; yet it is one of the greatest ports in the world. I myself feel that this is not a task which should be beyond our powers. I rather feel that the Government have "soft-pedalled" on this provision in Clause 2 by mixing it up with a large number of miscellaneous provisions.

I feel that this matter of amenities deserves a clause to itself. I was looking for this clause in the index at the front of the Bill, and I could not find any reference to the preservation of amenities. I propose, in due course, to put down an Amendment in that connection. That would be a purely textual Amendment. But the more important matter is that, as the provision stands, it is merely an injunction to the Board to have these things in mind and to have regard to them. There is nothing in this provision which enables representations to be made from outside—though I am sure they will be made, notwithstanding that fact—and permits some independent person, such as the Minister or anybody else, to decide upon the respective claims of amenity and of the Port itself. If the Government stand by their view that there is to be a majority of industrialists on the Board, whilst I would not say that that would necessarily be conclusive against claims of amenity, I should feel that those industrialists were likely to be much more concerned with the necessity of carrying out the works they wished to carry out than about the preservation of amenities. I think it would be unwise and unsafe to leave the position entirely to them.

I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, will be able to give us any comfort on this point. Could he say, for instance, whether it will be possible for bodies such as the National Parks Commission to make recommendations which, if they were not acceded to, might be the subject of a special inquiry? I certainly feel that that is essential if these very praiseworthy sentiments are to be made really effective in the Bill. Subject to that, like my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I think that this is a very good Bill. We shall examine it, of course, on the next stage, but we gladly recommend to the House that it should be given a Second Reading.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords. I should like for one moment to emphasise what my noble friend has said. I was one of the original National Parks Commissioners, and this area came under our attention and was made a National Park at the time. My experience leads me to believe that it is important to put into the Bill some provision requiring this authority to consult with the National Parks Commission on these aspects of their work. If that is not done, the National Parks Commission will find themselves in the position of having to deal with undesirable features post factum, with all sorts of financial and other implications which that leads to and which have caused much trouble and difficulty in other parts of the country. That may be avoided now if it is clearly stated in the Bill that among the duties of this new body is not only the duty that they should have regard to A, B and C, but also what is to be done about it. Otherwise the National Parks Commission are left out. It is the experience of those who have served on that body that these specially created public authorities are sometimes the most difficult to deal with because of their special status and I should like the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, if he will, to deal with that matter and to try to provide for it at later stages of the Bill.

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, we do not often have Welsh debates in your Lordships' House—and more's the pity! To-day has been a Welsh field day—or perhaps I should say a Welsh water day—and it has been a particularly happy coincidence that the Second Reading of this Milford Haven Bill should have occurred two days after my noble friend Lord Brecon had taken his seat in your Lordships' House as Minister of State for Welsh Affairs. As the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor (who told me that he would have to leave before the end of the debate), rightly pointed out, most debates on Welsh water affairs are highly controversial. But, fortunately, in keeping with the traditions of a maiden speech, this obstacle was not placed in my noble friend's way to-day. I should like to add my voice to the chorus of praise that has greeted his maiden speech. It is for me a particularly pleasant task to say this, because I was for two and a half years Under-Secretary for Welsh Affairs and had the very great pleasure of working with my noble friend Lord Brecon.

It is a doubly happy coincidence that I am also able to join in the congratulations which have been afforded to my noble friend Lord Tenby, because whilst I was exercising the office of Under-Secretary of State for Welsh Affairs the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs was none other than Lord Tenby, For two and a half years I had the pleasure of learning from him about the virtues and the occasional vices of his fellow-countrymen. He even went so far as to teach me a little Welsh—though most of the words I learnt are unsuitable for repetition in your Lordships' House.

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, has had to leave, because I should have liked to cross-examine him on the subject of the Secretary of State for Wales, about which he quite rightly twitted us. He told us that my noble friend's appointment met with a somewhat frigid reception because he was appointed as only Minister of State and not as Secretary of State. My noble friend Lord Dynevor pointed out, however, that when the Party of noble Lords opposite were in office that was a point that missed their attention. I should like the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, to tell us this: Is it or is it not the intention of the Labour Party, should they ever be returned to power—which heaven forbid!—to appoint a Secretary of State for Welsh Affairs? However, that is a controversial matter, and I shall now return to the less controversial matter of the question before us.

The question of amenity has been the principal point raised. The Government wholly agree with the anxieties which have been expressed. We believe that we have provided sufficiently for this point in the Bill. I shall look at it again very carefully, with my noble friend Lord Brecon, in relation to the points which have been made this afternoon, and if we can do anything to meet any of them then of course we shall do so. But I think we have already done as much as can possibly be done. There will be on the Board three representatives of the Pembroke County Council, who are the planning authority, and also a representative of the National Parks Commission. I think we can rely upon these representatives to see that the amenity provisions are by no means overlooked.


May I interrupt the noble Lord?




Is it the case, because the town planning authority is to be represented on the Board, that the town planning powers of that authority will not run across the area of the Conservancy Board?


Not at all. The planning authority is the County Council, not the Conservancy Board. I particularly liked the point made by the noble Lord. Lord Silkin, about Rotterdam. What he said I have often felt myself. One has only to go to Scotland and look at some of the work of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to see that it is perfectly possible to build vast engineering schemes in a natural beauty spot without ruining it. There are those, even Scotsmen, who maintain that in certain parts of Scotland the scenery has even been enhanced by the work of man.

My noble friends Lord Dynevor and Lord Milford Haven, whom we hear all too infrequently in your Lordships' House, asked whether we were satisfied that we have taken enough precautions about oil discharge and fouling of the sea birds. The oil companies who will use the Haven are, I know, very much alive to this problem. The Conservancy Board will be a harbour authority under the provisions of the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1955, and will be able to watch the matter and take any action that may be necessary to enforce the provisions of the Act. My noble friend the Lord Chairman of Committees, Lord Merthyr, who lives only a few miles away from Milford Haven, has reminded me that there has recently been one prosecution, if not more, under the Act. But, of course, we rely a great deal on the conscience of those who are going to use the harbour, and all these must be aware by now of what the country thinks about pollution.

The Board is a conservancy authority and not a harbour authority, let me remind my noble friend Lord Milford Haven. It will not itself be providing facilities in the Haven for the discharge of ships. Under Clause 1, it is charged with the duty of having regard to the desirability of preserving amenity; and, as I have just reminded the noble Lord, Lord Latham, there will be on the Board representatives of the County Council and the National Parks Commission to see that this duty is carried out. My noble friend also raised a point about fishermen. The local trawler owners and the local fishery committee will be represented on the Board.

My noble friend Lord Dynevor asked why the Board did not take compulsory powers to acquire land. As he said, the Board has no power to acquire land compulsorily. Clause 2 (1) permits them to acquire land by agreement only. The Government did not consider that it was necessary that the Board should have compulsory land acquisition powers. My noble friend will appreciate that the Board's interests will be mainly with the waters of the Haven, and I do not think that they will have many matters involving the compulsory purchase of land. One or two smaller points were raised, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has given notice that he intends to put down an important Amendment on Committee stage, which perhaps will be a more suitable occasion on which to discuss that subject. I should like to thank your Lordships for the more than friendly welcome that has been accorded to the Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and referred to the Committee on Unopposed Bills.