HL Deb 20 December 1965 vol 271 cc871-2

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for the future of Milford Dock.]


My Lords, these docks are owned by the Milford Docks Company. The Government are aware of the difficulties facing the company, and are watching the position closely.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer, which does not take us much further. But may I ask him whether he is aware that Milford Haven is one of the finest natural ports in the entire country? And, since it is a natural port for the import of iron ore would he look carefully into the possibility of making use of this port for the import of iron ore in bulk?


My Lords, it is agreed that Milford Haven— the docks apart—has excellent deep water; but, as the noble Lord will be aware, the steelworks are at Port Talbot and Newport. The Government issued a White Paper comparatively recently in regard to this question and I do not think there is any chance of their moving from the view they expressed in the White Paper.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the White Paper envisages ore carriers of up to 65,000 tons. and is he aware that these are already completely out of date; that iron ore is being carried in bulk carriers of up to 100,000 tons, and that Japan is building one of 200,000 tons? This being the case, would he ask his right honourable friend to have another look at the conclusions in the White Paper?


My Lords, it is agreed that the initial capital expenditure of a terminal at Milford Haven might be less, but normal running costs would be higher than where it is proposed to site the jetties. It would mean a very long rail haul from Milford Haven to the steelworks at Port Talbot or Newport. But my right honourable friend, in conjunction with the Secretary of State for Wales, has this matter in hand.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that we are in some danger of confusion between Milford Dock, mentioned in the Question, and Milford Haven, which is a much bigger area; and the iron ore terminal would be in the Haven, not necessarily in the Dock, which is perhaps a little obsolete. Many of us are hoping that the Haven will be used for the receipt of iron ore?


My Lords, in my answer to the first supplementary I tried to draw a distinction between the Haven and the Docks, but I took it that the noble Lord was referring to one of the propositions put up by the new Chairman of the Docks Company to the Secretary of State for Wales and to the Board of Trade.


My Lords, do Her Majesty's Government appreciate that British Railways' modernisation plans include the running of liner-trains, which would lower the cost of freighting ore from Milford Haven to the steelworks, and do Her Majesty's Government realise that, although very big bulk carriers may come into Milford Haven, they will in many cases need to be serviced by smaller vessels for which the docks are an essential ancillary?


My Lords, all aspects of this question have been gone into. It is not a question of liner-trains but of company trains, or "merry-go-round" trains almost on a continuous belt. But I will call the attention of the Secretary of State for Wales and my right honourable friend to what has been said in this House to-day.

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