HL Deb 01 February 1972 vol 327 cc704-70

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. First, I must declare an interest, which is that I hold 200 Ordinary Shares in Shell Transport and Trading, and it is of course that company which would benefit in part by this Bill if your Lordships were to pass it.

The Bill is one of three stages which will end up in creating Europe's first ocean terminal to handle the new generation of big oil tankers of 300,000 tons, and this would be off Amlwch, on the Anglesey coast. The Bill deals with marine and harbour installations which are needed but which could not be covered by any of the other planning procedures available. A public inquiry has been held on the landward installations, and one awaits the inspector's report and the Minister's verdict thereon, no doubt some time within the next several months. A further inquiry will still have to be held on the 80-mile pipeline which is necessary to join the proposed terminal with the refinery that it has to serve inland at Stanlow. If your Lordships give this Bill a Third Reading, it will then, of course, go to another place.

My Lords, the Bill was originally promoted by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, though in a slightly different form. It is now promoted by the Anglesey County Council; and the Amlwch Urban District Council have withdrawn the objections which were expressed to the Select Committee. It has been warmly endorsed by the Mersey Pilots' Association; and, above all, it has been recommended by a Select Committee of your Lordships' House, by a majority, for a Third Reading.

The Bill is designed, in the first instance, to serve a particular object, and that object is an oil refinery at Stanlow, some 80 miles away, which is at present handling 10 million tons of crude oil a year. In April, 1970, with very little delay and no trouble at all, planning permission was given for the expansion of that refinery to very nearly double its capacity. That was done at a time when Ministers who might have wanted to consider alternative planning procedures chose not to make use of them. As a result, something like 80 per cent. more crude oil will have to be brought in to that refinery from the end of next year onwards—a throughput rising from 10 million to 18 million tons a year. About a quarter of what is produced feeds industry, and therefore employment, in the North-West of Britain and in the Midlands—heavy industry like North Wales and Sheffield steel, and power generation like the Ince Power Station, which itself is shortly going to need to double its present fuel consumption of 1½ million tons of fuel oil a year. This expansion is part of a programme to help meet Britain's rising energy need, which looks like very nearly doubling by the end of this decade.

The refinery can be supplied in either of two ways, and I beg your Lordships, if you will be so kind, to pay particular attention to these two alternatives. The present scale of large tankers of 200,000 tons can continue to come into the Mersey, can continue to lighten some of their cargo at sea into smaller tankers, and then the bigger and the smaller, together or in succession, can come into the Mersey and unload their crude oil. This has been happening, until now, every two or three weeks. But, of course, if the refinery is expanded to nearly double its capacity, serving that refinery this way would mean just twice that seaborne traffic going into the Mersey, virtually twice that risk of congestion and virtually twice that risk of collision. The alternative to that procedure (which is perhaps best summed up in the liturgical phrase, "Let us pray") is to bring in a smaller number of even bigger tankers to a terminal which is a fair and safe distance away, where its cargo can be discharged under properly controlled conditions.

One of the most interesting comments on this has been made by the pollution officer for Anglesey, who sums up the implications in terms of pollution. He says that increased Mersey traffic means increased collision danger, and that in turn means an increased danger of pollution incidents. I quote from his evidence at the public inquiry in the following terms: The single buoy mooring project will reduce the risk of oil pollution at sea in the following respects. It will reduce the risk of collision in the Mersey by taking tankers out of the more congested shipping areas. It will reduce to a minimum the number of tankers passing through this area of the sea … This will reduce collision risk and will reduce the number of oil transfer operations required at sea. He went on: The oil transfer operations will be supervised at all times by a responsible maritime authority with powers to prosecute, and so on, if there are cases of spillages. There will be available at Amlwch and attendant on all oil transfer operations suitable launches to deal immediately with any spillages that may occur. Discharging from these big tankers at terminal points will therefore be under carefully controlled conditions. There will be a terminal authority in charge and not the Shell company itself. Indeed, the authority is so designed that the local authority will have a majority of nominees on it; Shell will be in the minority; and if the civil authority want to close it down because it has been badly run they will be able to do so at any time.

Although this terminal is proposed for the biggest ships, it is not in fact the first such terminal in the British Isles. A single-buoy mooring is operated by the Continental Oil Company in the Humber. It has been operated there for 18 months without protest and without a single spillage, let alone damage. So the short point is that the larger the tankers, the fewer; and, because of that, the safer. And this for two reasons: first, they can carry better selected crews and, secondly, there are fewer actual occasions for collision.

More generally, our country stands to benefit from this proposal in four ways. First, we should enjoy through it the full advantage of economies of scale being brought to bear on the cost of fuel by means of these jumbo tankers. The saving effected by these big tankers is more than £1.50 per ton of crude oil on a trip from the Gulf. Our fuel costs, our energy costs, amount to between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. over all of our industrial production costs, so this in itself would not only assist our industrial situation but also benefit the domestic and private user, including the motorist. The second advantage is that we shall avoid the partial loss which would follow if these very big ships, denied a proper berth in Britain, had to be diverted to—shall we say?—Le Havre. Britain is then served more expensively by smaller ships coming in from there. This would carry an on-cost that we should feel in our energy costs and therefore in our industrial costs. The third general advantage is that this terminal would abolish the current and otherwise steeply mounting pollution dangers due to collision hazards in the Mersey; and finally it would clear the fairway for the Mersey to take those big container carriers for which the new £40 million Seaforth Dock Development has been set going—which, indeed, is the hope of the Mersey. This point is one particularly stressed by the Mersey pilots.

The Bill also would confer considerable local benefits. There is high unemployment in Anglesey. Cammel Laird recently laid off 120 of their 700 employees. The temporary closure of the Menai Straits Bridge, now only partially reopened and not to be fully reopened for another year or 18 months, has slackened employment in Holyhead. Of the 60,000 population of Anglesey some 1,715 were out of work in November. By New Year's Day the figure had risen to 1,819 and by the end of January to 1,885. Within the district of Amlwch itself, which has 2,400 people, no fewer than 300 are out of work at this time. Those unemployed folk of Amlwch have submitted a very human document, a Petition which was sent to the public inquiry and from which I should like to quote. It is addressed to the Inspector of the Public Inquiry at Amlwch and addressed from 26 Craig y Don, Amlwch. It says: The following letter has been endorsed by 166 men, all of whom are unemployed and are registered at the Amlwch Employment Exchange.

It goes on:


We the undersigned would respectfully draw your attention to the unemployment situation in the Amlwch area. In the Inquiry, now likely to drag on for another two weeks, we wish to state it is work we want and less talk. The project (Shell) no doubt will ease the unemployment in the Amlwch area a great deal and it is hard to understand that until recently there were signs on the Burwen road (Cemaes) and the Amlwch to Penysarn road reading Amlwch invites Industry'. Yet there are people doing their best to prevent it coming to the area. We voice the opinion of all those unfortunate men who are dying to start work.

Yours faithfully,

(Signature) E. I. Hughes."

If any noble Lord wishes to look at the photocopies that I have here of these moving signatures, he is welcome to do so.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? It would be useful if he could tell us how many of those 166 men are guaranteed employment on this project.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord for that intervention, the first, no doubt, of several. I was just coming to that point. Such is the context of the Shell proposal. Quite apart from whatever number may be employed temporarily on construction—and I stress "temporarily"; it may be 200 or so—the Shell proposal is for not fewer than 60 permanent new local jobs at Amlwch. To say that any particular one of those 166 men will necessarily get one of the jobs available is as impossible for the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, as it is for me. But the point is that there will be 60 at least permanent new jobs that can be recruited for locally at Amwlch. There is also the likelihood of indirect employment that might well create another 40 or so in servicing of various sorts. The prospect of 100 jobs towards relieving the plight of the 300 workless is not lightly to be sneered at.

Then there is the second local advantage. The Bill provides that Shell, or for that matter any other company which discharges oil through this pipeline with Shell's consent, will pay a levy to the County Council on every ton of oil passed. After the proper corrections for the effect of the rate-support grant, this seems likely to mean a net new revenue to Anglesey County Council of the order of £120,000 in 1975, if the timing programme is adhered to, rising to about £150,000 by the end of the decade. That money, it is declared and provided, shall go for the benefit of the people of Anglesey. The County Council already declare that they have ideas for using some of this money for attracting industry.

My Lords, I come now to the objections that have been freely voiced. They range under three heads: first, the appearance of the installation; second, the wider ecological environment; and, thirdly, the location. As to the appearance, your Lordships should be aware that the North Wales Society of Architects, who are allied to the R.I.B.A., have written of Amlwch: Existing heavy industry has already visually dominated this part of the coastline. They go on to say that the question is really whether oil tanks are more or less offensive than the rubbish heap that they would replace. They say of the inland tank farm, which is not covered by this Bill and was the subject of the public inquiry, that they could not select a better site. They add: Tanks are pleasant in shape, and with a well designed colour application they could become an asset. Then there is the argument about the ecological environment, the question of crude oil pollution due to accidental spillage. The Select Committee went into this in great detail. Taking the world as a whole and the full world-wide experience of this matter, one finds that it has been shown that such pollution as has occurred has been mainly from loading terminals where crude oil is put on to ships, and not terminals where it is taken off the ships. The reason is that in all the cases so far concerned these terminals are mostly further from the shore—up to 14 miles in one case as against two miles in this. That involves the use of stronger pumps and consequently greater tension on the equipment; and the places in Africa and Asia where these functions take place usually have available less competent personnel for immediate supervision and operation. Among the discharge terminals, which is what we are discussing in this Bill, there has been no trouble of any kind at any time in the 18 months' experience of running such a terminal on the Humber. Overseas there has been only one case of beach pollution out of some 1,500 discharges totalling more than 110 million tons of crude in eight years. Many of the spillages that have been listed have been very small, some as little as a pint. Mr. Jim Gordon, chairman of the Durban Antipollution Vigilantes Committee, who has been watching very carefully the operation of the S.B.M. there, wrote in the Press last November: There is no objection in principle to an S.B.M. so long as it is carefully operated. My Lords, the Anglesey terminal would be much safer than that experience, because over eight years it would handle double that volume 110 million tons of crude that I have mentioned, with half the number of ships. There would be 800 ships instead of the 1,500; therefore this would halve the opportunities for accidents. The aim is, by means of a single buoy mooring, to halve the possible occasions of trouble while doubling the volume of oil to the refinery.

Then there is the question of location. Various persons have suggested that the development of North Sea oil surely argues for the location of terminals, and perhaps of refineries as well, on the East Coast of Britain as well as the West. My Lords, those who argue in that way would do well to take a look at the map. The North Sea oilfield is roughly between Aberdeen and the Shetlands, and, of course, if one is going to serve a refinery virtually in the Midlands it makes much more sense to take the oil by sea straight to North Wales and nearby than to take it an equal distance down the East Coast of Britain and then run a pipeline over the greater distance of the Pennines; not only a greater distance, but with greater engineering difficulties. So the question of location as between West and Fast coasts is not, I submit, a strong one.

I think that all noble Lords should be grateful—I certainly am—to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in the first instance (we are all sorry that he cannot attend to-day; I understand that he is abroad) and now to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, for raising the questions implicit in the Amendment which no doubt the noble Lord will be moving in a moment. I have much sympathy with those who feel that in a complex string of developments like this, starting from the inland refinery expansion, back through the pipeline to service it, back to the storage tanks, back to the pumping station and finally back to the terminal—that any such complex matter involving places 80 miles apart should, in some way, be subject to a single planning operation. I have much sympathy with that point of view. Indeed, it is one that I have advocated elsewhere because I am a firm believer that we should do well to look ahead where we can about projects of this kind and I, too, would like to see the bitty, piecemeal character of these performances avoided in future.

But, my Lords, with the law as it stands and planning permission having been given for this refinery expansion at Stanlow, the rest more or less follows. Indeed, when the planning commission was granted for this expansion there was an opportunity for the Government, had they wished to do so, to propose what is commonly called a planning permission inquiry. There have been other opportunities for the same procedure. The Bacton oil terminal was one and the third London Airport another. But I believe that most noble Lords would share my prayer, and say, "God save us from another Roskill!" However that may be, the planning law as it stands is such that planning permission for an essential part has been given and the consequential operation is going ahead.

The effect of the noble Lord's Amendment as I read it—and I await his exposition of it with more than the usual interest with which we await everything which the noble Lord says—is bound to have the effect of delaying the Third Reading of this Bill until after the Minister's decision on the public inquiry, which may well not be, let us say, until April, or perhaps even May. At any rate, by the time in that event that there was another chance for a Third Reading in this House, it might well be early summer. But, of course, if the Minister turns down the scheme on the basis of the inspector's report on the public inquiry, the scheme fails anyway; so that nothing that we do to-day alters the situation, except to create a new delay. If the Minister chooses to turn down the planning application investigated at the public inquiry, or indeed the application for a pipeline which still has to go before a public inquiry then the scheme fails.

My Lords, it may well be argued, if that is so why the hurry? There is a need for hurry in this respect. First, there is a kind of multiplier in an operation of this sort. When it is a question of ordering £50 million worth of tailor-made engineering equipment no sensible company will place such an order until it is quite certain that the equipment will be needed. This is not equipment which can be made for one job and switched to another. It is not like buying another motor car. It is specialist, tailor-made equipment; and it is important, if delays in operating the terminal are to be avoided, that the order should be given as soon as possible. If there is delay—say that there is no Third Reading in this House until the summer— it is questionable whether the Bill could be got through another place before the end of this Session. In that event it might very well fail altogether. The difficulty about that, my Lords, is that the pollution hazards are multiplied rather than diminished, for though the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board are ready enough to say that they could cope with the extra tanker tonnage, there is no doubt whatever that they certainly would not recommend it. There will be plenty of opportunity in another place to review the inspector's report and the Minister's decision. A delay now for failure to understand the technological developments would be rather like making a man walk before a motor car carrying a red flag. Deny this facility and you force a marvellous opportunity ultimately to move abroad; deny this and you refuse perhaps 100, certainly 60, jobs to some of the 300 unemployed at Amlwch. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3ª. —(The Earl of Lauderdale.)

4.40 p.m.

LORD GOODMAN rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion, "That the Bill be now read 3ª", to leave out all the words after ("That") and insert ("this House declines to give the Bill a Third Reading until it has had an opportunity of seeing the inspector's report on the planning application inquiry held at Amlwch from the 5th of October to the 5th of November 1971, and the Minister's decision thereon.") The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think that I, too, must declare a negative interest. As a trustee of a number of trusts, I believe that I am the owner of a number of shares in the company promoting this Bill. It may well be that if I am successful in my efforts this afternoon my beneficiaries will be reproaching me tomorrow for having reduced their dividend, which I may say is a complaint that I shall bear with composure; and I shall point out to them that they have the compensation of still being able to visit an Anglesey that is unpolluted and undefiled. May I also say that I do not intend to introduce anything controversial into this debate if I can avoid it, because it is very much a technical matter. I have not the slightest word of criticism to address to the great company who are promoting this measure. It is absolutely right that industrial and commercial concerns should promote what they regard as necessary installations all over the country. They should do it with the utmost vigour in places which suit their commercial and industrial convenience taking into account as much as they can æsthetic and scenery considerations.

It is equally absolutely right that those of us who think that approaching an application of this kind should be closely invigilated should address our considerations as vigorously as we can to those who have to make the decisions. It then falls to the Government, the planning authorities and this House to decide which is the greater compulsion—the compulsion of acceding to commercial and industrial needs, or the compulsion of maintaining the countryside, the seaboard and everything else as unpolluted and undefiled as possible. So I have not a word of criticism to say about the promotion of this Bill, and nothing would drag such a word from me.

I entirely endorse what was said by the noble Earl in criticising the procedures which operate in these matters. We have had a previous instance in this House, in which I was myself actively concerned, about the investigation of an important social question that came up in a Private Member's Bill. We, equally, then observed that the procedures were "long-winded, expensive and need not in the end be comprehensive". That, I am afraid, is precisely the situation that has arisen here. This Bill was referred, inevitably, to a highly responsible Select Committee of the House. It is, I think, one of the disadvantages, and perhaps a shortcoming, of the Select Committee procedure that the Committee can consider only what is brought before them; it is not their function, as I understand it, to innovate or make proposals, or to seek to introduce evidence or considerations that are not brought before them by the parties directly concerned and represented.

In the present case, the Bill was introduced as a late Bill, which meant that its opponents, of whom there is a varied selection of highly responsible authorities and other bodies, who feel strongly and have very responsibly advanced arguments, had a very limited opportunity of assembling their evidence. Needless to say—and this is another great defect of this procedure—they had very limited funds to assist them in presenting their case. It is, I think, quite wrong that people who are concerned to protect the countryside where they happen to live or in which they are interested should have to bear the often terrifying expense of organising resistance to measures promoted by great commercial undertakings. I hope that one day we may be able to give a little thought to this matter.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that that would apply also if the planning inquiry commission procedure had been followed: that in fact the cost of representation before such a commission could be even more formidable than the five weeks public inquiry that took place in Anglesey?


My Lords, I entirely agree that the cost of representation at any public inquiry is forbidding, and one can only pay tribute to the disinterested and altruistic nature of the people who are prepared to dip their hands into their pockets for the purpose. But I do not think it is an argument for saying that people who want to oppose should be discouraged from opposing because it may cost them money which they are willing, albeit reluctant, to spend.

Coming back to my point, this was a late Bill. The opponents to the Bill had very limited opportunities—and I do not think the noble Earl, who has presented his case with the greatest of fairness, will dispute this—of appreciating the nature of the case supporting the Bill, which is a highly complicated case involving matters of which they themselves could hardly be expected to know anything. In the result, a great many important considerations, relating to the economic factors, social factors, æsthetic factors and factors relating to interference with amenities, were either not introduced at all or were introduced too sparingly—and most of them not introduced at all.

Then another mishap occurred, because the Select Committee, having heard the evidence in the first instance, decided that they wanted to hear more evidence solely on the question of spillage, so that there was a resumed inquiry and a second hearing by the Select Committee, which was by their terms of reference—


My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? It was not the Select Committee who decided that; it was the House.


I apologise, my Lords, and I am most grateful. If I do not show a total mastery of the complicated facts of this matter, it is due to the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, had such a mastery and has passed the job on to me. It is indeed the case that it was the House that decided that the Committee should be reconstituted with limited terms of reference, which then made it ultra vires for the Committee to consider the evidence which by this time the hapless opponents had tried to collect with such limited funds as were available to them. They did collect it, but alas! to no purpose, because it could not be presented. Thereupon we had this situation. We had the marine operations, which are the subject of this Bill; we had, at the same time, inextricably interwoven with them, the land operations, which were the subject of the planning considerations and which had been the subject of the public inquiry that had taken place and been conducted for many weeks, until as the noble Earl has rightly said, they stand or fall together. It is impossible to have one set of operations without the other; the considerations that weigh with one must weigh with the other. If it is socially, æsthetically and from the point of view of amenities undesirable to have the scheme on the land, it would obviously be a nonsense to have it at sea if the land was also an element of the whole scheme. Hence, it would appear to be common sense that this House, before considering whether this Bill should proceed, should know what decision has been reached in relation to the planning on the land. That decision will be quite shortly forthcoming. It may be a matter of only a few weeks.


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House how he has this information, and from what quarter has come the assurance that the Minister's decision will be available in a few weeks? Has the Minister said anything of that sort?


My Lords, it would be helpful to me if the noble Earl would listen with rather greater attention to what I am saying—although of course he need not listen at all. I never suggested that I have had any assurance from anybody. I have not had an assurance from anybody, and it would have been grossly improper for me to discuss it with the Minister. All I was saying was that a decision may come in a few weeks. I do not know whether the noble Earl is in a position to say that it will not come in a few weeks. Of course it may take longer— planning matters often involve great lengths of time. But I repeat, without any apology, that it may come in a few weeks, although it may take longer. But however long it may take, that decision is highly relevant to our deliberations this afternoon, and it seems to me to be entirely wrong that we should proceed to a decision on this Bill this afternoon before we know the inspector's decision after the inquiry and the Minister's decision.

The noble Earl has said that there can be no harm in our giving a Third Reading to the Bill and speeding it on its way to the Commons, because if the Minister decides at some later stage that he wishes to abrogate the matter in rela- tion to the planning inquiry, he can so act. I am inclined to think that this is a misconception of the function of this House. If a Bill has been passed by this House and has the authority of Parliament, it would seem to me to be difficult for the Minister to say that he is going to make a planning decision which appears to be defying the steps taken by Parliament and the view already expressed by Parliament. It seems to me very much to be pre-empting the matter if the Minister is faced with a decision, a fait accompli, so far as this House is concerned. It would therefore seem to me entirely right that we should accept the necessary delay.

The noble Earl urged a number of reasons why delay might be damaging. But, of course, delay is damaging to any great commercial project. But where we are talking of a relatively short period of time, and where we are concerned with a national issue of this importance—because, although this is a Private Bill, it is one of that special category of Private Bills which raises important issues of a national character—it would seem to me highly appropriate that we should wait to be seized of all the information relating to it before we reach our decision. I am inviting the House to agree to an Amendment which in no way passes judgment on the merits of the Bill. I do not for one moment challenge anything that the noble Earl said in relation to the economic factors, the use of large tankers and the likelihood or not of spillage: these are not matters on which I challenge him. I merely say that I have no comment to make on them. It seems to me that people who are well versed in these matters should still retain the opportunity of commenting on them.

Some remarks have been made about the nature of the countryside. The countryside is entirely delightful, and the seaboard also. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has committed himself to paper to the effect that the area is a rather tatty one—I am not sure if that is the word he used but it was not a totally dissimilar phrase. I would invite him to go and take another look, possibly accompanied by younger members of his family. It is not a tatty area and there is an enormous risk of its being spoilt by this installation. I do not say—


My Lords, since the noble Lord has mentioned my views as to this particular place on the sea coast not being the tank farm or marine installations, is the noble Lord aware that the shore installations are on the site of a corporation rubbish tip?


My Lords, I am aware of that, but the whole area presents a most agreeable aspect. There is no area in the whole world that has not a rubbish heap: whether you go to India, to Cumberland or the beauties of the Sussex Downs you will find rubbish heaps. If I may say so, it is not a very convincing argument for the erection of these vast installations so far as aesthetic considerations are concerned. I am not saying that in the ultimate analysis we ought not to do it: I am not in a position to say that, because there are often imperatives that go beyond our pleasures and delights. But if we do it we should do it on the basis of knowing all the evidence and of weighing carefully whether the benefits that we are receiving equate with the detriments on the other side. That is all I am saying.

I do not think I need detain the House very much longer. I have, I think, presented the procedural considerations. There were various alternatives available to those who felt that we ought to know the facts before we plunged. One was to ask for the matter to be referred back to the Select Committee for further consideration, and it seemed to me that this was not appropriate if we did not know what the planning inquiry was going to say, because it may be that the planning inquiry is so conclusive in favour of the noble Earl that I shall not dare to raise my voice again—it is an unlikely eventuality but it could happen—and then the opponents of, the Bill would be totally silenced. However, it seems to me that as that is of course a possibility it would be wrong to refer the matter back to the Select Committee since there may be nothing for them to consider.

There was also the matter of this new planning inquiry Commission—I say "new"—which is an immensely elaborate device for dealing with the matter. A great deal of the evidence has already been heard and, although this might well have been appropriate at an earlier stage, some of us took the view that it was better to allow the evidence that had already been carefully considered to be weighed most carefully by the inquiry which now has it, and for its result to be considered by the Minister.

Finally, may I say this: the evidence that has been considered by the inquiry and was not, unfortunately, available to the Select Committee is cogent and valuable evidence, particularly that presented by one acknowledged Continental expert of total impartiality. I have glanced through his evidence—I cannot understand a word of it—but what is absolutely clear is that he was recognised by the inquiry as presenting responsible, valid and important evidence and his evidence was accepted as being of relevant value in relation to its deliberations. I ought to say no more than that. I am not urging the inquiry to give heed to what he said, or to attach any particular value to what he said; but it is quite clear that it was considered by the inquiry as relevant evidence. That being so, there is relevant evidence which has not been heard by the Select Committee, and therefore there is relevant evidence that ought to have been heard before we are asked to give this Bill a Third Reading. I beg to move.

Moved, as an Amendment to the Motion, "That the Bill be now read 3ª", to leave out all the words after ("That") and insert ("this House declines to give the Bill a Third Reading until it has had an opportunity of seeing the inspector's report on the planning application inquiry held at Amlwch from the 5th of October to the 5th of November, 1971, and the Minister's decision thereon.")—(Lord Goodman.)

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, the House has just listened to two very convincing speeches on different sides, and on thinking about it I feel that had both leading counsel been knocked down by buses during the sittings of the Select Committee the noble Earl who has now moved the Third Reading and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, could have taken their places and been just as successful as counsel who were themselves appearing before the Committee. But perhaps it is fitting at this moment that I should be listed as the next speaker in this debate because I had the responsibility of being the Chairman of the Select Committee which considered the Bill. In all, we sat for eight days, morning and afternoon: six days covering the original hearing and two more days after the House had recommitted the Bill because of new evidence which had come to light regarding spillages.

In my capacity as Chairman of that Committee, I first want to say quite clearly that I do not regard it as my position or my duty here, during the course of the Third Reading debate, to plead the case either for the promoters or the petitioners. I am assuming that those noble Lords who are interested in this matter to-day will have already read the two special reports which the Select Committee have presented to the House, and I am not seeking to add a great deal in my contribution to-day. However, there are one or two things that I feel I must say. On the two occasions when the Committee said that the Bill should proceed to a Third Reading I should like to make it clear that those decisions were majority ones. It may transpire during the course of the debate how that division of the Committee worked. It is not for me to say how my colleagues voted, but I would like to declare myself as one of the majority.

May I say that when the Bill was first published my sympathies tended to be with the petitioners, as they were at the time of the Second Reading, which was a very interesting one. As a Lancastrian I love Anglesey and North Wales very much indeed, and as a Socialist I have no particular love for a great capitalist organisation like Shell. So I hesitated as to whether or not I should accept the invitation to be a Member of that Committee; but I regarded it as a duty to the House, and so I accepted the invitation and was appointed Chairman. After eight days of very keen attention to everything that was said by counsel and in the evidence, I reached the conclusion that the Bill must go forward because the evidence had convinced me that the risk of harm to the amenities of the area were minimal and certainly less than the risks which would exist from the transferring of crude oil at sea from the new generation of tankers to the smaller tankers which could go down through Liverpool Bay and unload at Tranmere.

On the question of the interference with the beauty of the island, I went between the two hearings—I hasten to say under my own petrol—to look at the sites in question. I had known them very well years ago and I wanted to see if there was any change. From the time I first knew Amlwch there has been a tremendous deterioration. I agree with the noble Lord that at present the harbour is untidy and littered, and there is not the slightest incentive for it to be used as a small boat holiday base.

I have a feeling that if the Bill becomes law the Shell company will clean up the harbour and make it attractive; they would have the powers so to do. They must do it, because the launches which are envisaged in tile evidence to service the great tankers two miles out could not get into the present harbour, so Shell have to do something about the harbour. And what a difference it would make if they cleaned it up! The site proposed for the tanks to receive the crude oil from the single-buoy moorings—the noble Lord is right again—is at present a stinking burning tip. It is appalling in the extreme, and it would be an under-statement to say that properly landscaped tanks would be preferable to what exists now. Quite close at hand is the associated OCTEL set-up. That in itself is not very picturesque.

It will be seen from our reports that the Committee had some doubts about the possible uses for the terminal other than for the discharge of crude oil to the shore; for example, a possible refinery near the site, the possible loading of oil rather than the discharging of it. In evidence, and in counsels' statements, we received complete assurances on these points. Perhaps I may quote very briefly from our first report of last July. Paragraph 11 reads: The petitioners, not unnaturally, expressed the fear that, if the single buoy mooring scheme was brought into operation, the next step would be an application to construct a refinery, or petro-chemical complex. in Anglesey; and the Committee note that an assurance was given in evidence by the chief technical witness of the promoters that the Shell Oil Companies have no intention of building a refinery or a chemical plant or any other type of installation ' (apart from those referred to in the Bill or the subject of the current planning applications) in Anglesey. My other quotation concerns the question that I mentioned. This is on page 31 of our second day's hearing on the second occasion. This is myself speaking in the Committee: The Committee … propose to make a further special report and they note that the Promoters have given an undertaking on behalf of Shell in the following terms, which I quote: `Except with the consent of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry the Promoters undertake that they will not use the works authorised by the Bill, or permit them to he used, for the export of crude oil.' I asked counsel whether he would give that undertaking and he immediately gave it.


My Lords, will my noble friend permit me to interrupt? Can he enlighten me? These are no doubt perfectly well intentioned and honourable undertakings, but exactly what force do they have in relation to the Bill before us?


My Lords, I cannot imagine that assurances given by a responsible organisation to a Select Committee of your Lordships' House could possibly not be carried out.


My Lords, this may well be so now; but how on earth can pressures to extend development in the future be resisted? This is nothing to do with the assurances given to the Select Committee.


My Lords, assurances were given with regard to the present condition of the industry and of its ramifications. I repeat that when assurances like this are given to a Select Committee of this House they cannot be ignored in the future; I feel sure that they must be carried out. We have heard several suggestions—and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, referred to this in the course of his speech for his Amendment—that the Bill might be submitted to a Planning Inquiry Commission under the 1968 Act. My noble friend Lord Kennet talked to me about it at great length before he had to go away. It must be stressed that the Ministers concerned had refused this procedure when we were considering the matter in the Select Committee. On the other hand, the local planning inquiry—as has been said—has been held, and its report is awaited. My latest information on the passage between the two noble Lords is that it has reached the Minister, but the Minister may take two or three months before he expresses his decision upon it. This, I feel, should certainly not interfere with your Lordship's view at the present time as presented.

With the considerations that we have published to the House by Special Report and with what I have had to say, I can only add that it is always very difficult for this House, or the other place, to decide between amenity and the nation's economic needs. But after listening for eight days with patience and great interest, and having read and re-read all the proceedings—and in spite of the new evidence on spillages—I can only be presumptuous enough to advise your Lordships that you should give the Bill a Third Reading…and I add the word, "Now".

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I shall be very brief. This is a Private Bill and the Government are neutral on its merits. It is up to your Lordships to decide whether you give it a Third Reading, and whether you give it a Third Reading now. I should like to say a few words on the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has moved, not as to its merits, but simply to draw attention to some of the relevant considerations on the procedure.

The noble Lord's Amendment draws your Lordships' attention to the fact that related planning applications are now under consideration by the Secretary of State for Wales. The Bill is concerned with the proposed offshore installations, the single-buoy moorings, submarine pipelines, a breakwater and jetties. None of these installations is subject to the Town and Country Planning Acts, and therefore the promoters have had to seek Parliamentary authority through this Bill. On the other hand, the related land-based installations are subject to the Town and Country Planning Acts, and it was therefore necessary for the promoters to apply for planning permission. My right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Wales, called in the most important applications—for reception, storage and booster facilities at Amlwch and for storage tanks at Rhosgoch, some 4 miles inland—for his own decision. A public local inquiry was held in October and November, and the Secretary of State will announce his decision soon after he receives his inspector's report. But I can- not, I am afraid, solve the dispute between the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, as to whether this will be a matter of weeks or months. The inspector's report has not yet been received.

My Lords, this is not by any means the first time that a Private Bill and a related planning application have run together in parallel. The same situation arose, for example, when Esso and B.P., and more recently the Amoco Oil Company, put forward their development proposals in Milford Haven. The fact that related matters are examined in this way under different procedures has indeed caused concern on many occasions, and this concern has been voiced this afternoon. The relationship between Private Bills and planning applications was one of the matters that were discussed in this House only last Tuesday in a most interesting debate on a Motion by my noble friend Lord Molson. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has suggested that the Third Reading of the Bill—


My Lords, before my noble friend the Minister leaves that point, may I say a word? He referred to a somewhat similar case of a Bill and planning permission in the case of the oil companies Esso, and so on, at Milford Haven. In that case, was a Bill passed by Parliament before the planning decision was dealt with?


My Lords, I understand—I should like to confirm it definitely to my noble friend—that in one case it was before and in the other case it was after. But may I confirm that definitely when I have full information?

There is one argument that I think it right to put. Although the offshore and land-based installations would be closely related technically and operationally, they raise somewhat different environmental considerations. The offshore proposals raise, in particular, the question of possible pollution resulting from oil spillage at sea. The land-based proposals raise quite different questions of land use and visual impact in a mainly rural environment. It is therefore quite likely that the inspector's report and the Secretary of State's decision on the land-based proposals will not contain any useful guidance for your Lordships on the environmental issues raised by the Bill. It is necessary, as has been freely admitted, that to postpone the Third Reading would considerably delay the progress of the Bill, which still has to be considered in another place: my noble friend Lord Lauderdale, I think, used the words "fail altogether". It is relevant to point out that of course in the case of a Private Bill the Chairman of Committees in either House could table carryover Motions which would allow the Bill to carry over into the next Session. However, as I have said, the decision is entirely for your Lordships and my duty is simply to point out these facts.

I have had further inspiration so far as the question of my noble friend Lord Molson is concerned. The Esso Bill had passed through all its stages by the time that the planning inquiry was held. The Amoco Bill was finally passed after the planning permission was given.

There is just one other point that I should make clear, because reference has been made by the noble Lords, Lord Goodman and Lord Royle, and also in an intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, to the suggestion that the entire question of this oil terminal should have been put, or might be put, to a planning inquiry commission. It is relevant to make quite clear that in this particular case my right honourable friend was unable to use this particular method of operation because the procedure for a planning inquiry commission comes under the Town and Country Planning Act 1968, and this would not have been able to cover the offshore installations, for which this Bill has therefore had to be introduced; and the land-based installations by themselves would not have satisfied the stringent criteria for planning inquiry commissions which are laid down in the 1968 Act. So it is relevant in this debate to say that in this particular case my right honourable friend did not have the opportunity of using this planning inquiry commission procedure to cover the offshore installations as well. That is not, of course, to say that our procedures are perfect and that there should not be some procedure whereby the whole scheme should have been considered, but I thought it right to say that in this particular instance this was not open to him.


My Lords, before the Minister sits down I wonder whether I might invite him to have a shade more inspiration. On what he said, it appeared to be rather a side reference, but it is wholly crucial to our discussion. He said that the environmental considerations relating to the marine operation would not be relevant in relation to the public inquiry. But would he agree that other considerations, such as the economic arguments, the social arguments and the technical arguments which had been considered by the planning authority, would be highly relevant to the marine installations as well, and have not ever been heard by any body considering the matter?


Yes, my Lords, I think the noble Lord is right. There are many considerations that overlap both inquiries.

5.16 p.m.


My Lords, I declare an interest in that I am a beneficiary of a trust which has a small holding in the Shell company. May I first of all, before proceeding to my argument, deal with one point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when he spoke of this Bill on several occasions as being a late Bill which had not allowed the objectors sufficient time to marshal their ammunition before the public inquiry was held. Of course this is not true, if I may say so with great respect to the noble Lord, except in the very limited sense that the present Bill itself was late. But as virtually the identical Bill had been presented by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, I think in the first week of the Session, the objectors could not say that they had inadequate time to prepare. They had as much time as it was humanly possible for them to have to prepare, if a Bill was to be proceeded with entirely in the course of one Session. I thought it was as well that I should dispose of that point at the outset of my remarks.

I am not expecting all my noble friends to agree with what I am going to say because this Bill is not by any means a Party one, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said. It is a matter for each individual to make up his own mind. But I have known Anglesey extremely well for many years. I used to go there every summer before the war and have been many times on holiday since. I know both Amlwch and Rhosgoch and have been there during 1971. I have also thoroughly studied the evidence given on behalf of the objectors, and particularly the evidence mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman—at least I think this was his reference when he spoke of the Continental expert who was brought in to give evidence on behalf of the objectors. I think he was referring to my old friend Professor Peter Odell, who is now a Professor in Rotterdam and whose evidence I have not only read very thoroughly and examined; I also had an opportunity of discussion with Professor Odell when he visited the United Kingdom for a few days earlier last month. Also, I have had a number of discussions with Mr. Grove-White, the Chairman of the Objectors' Committee. As the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, mentioned, I have had some argument in the columns of the New Scientist with representatives of the objectors. So I hope no one will say that I have looked at this question in a superficial way. I have taken the trouble to examine it as thoroughly as it is possible to do, and I would not accept the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, put: Because we have not had the opportunity of seing the report of the inspector, that makes it impossible for us to evaluate the evidence that was given before the public inquiry. Any noble Lord who wants to can obtain a copy of the transcript, and he can discuss the views of the objectors with them. They would he only too delighted to speak on the telephone or to meet anyone who inquires about their views.

There can be no dispute, and I think there has not been any during the course of the public inquiry and debates in this House, that Britain will need more energy in the 1980s and that oil will continue to account for an increasing proportion of the total, but since no official estimates are published by the Government one has to rely on forecasts made by the industry itself. For example, that made by Sir David Barran. the charman of Shell when speaking before the Institute of Purchasing and Supply Conference at Harrogate last October. He said that total energy demand would increase from 327 million tons of coal equivalent in 1970 to 440 million in 1980, and that in this period oil demand would increase from 44l½ per cent. to 53 per cent. of the total. All this oil that will be required in 1980—according to Sir David, 159 million tons—has to be brought into this country either by tanker or by pipeline. I do not think there is any dispute thus far, nor is it disputed that to meet the components of increased demand served by the Stanlow refinery, the present expansion of capacity there from 10 million tons a year to 18 million tons a year by the end of 1973 was necessary and inevitable.

After 1973—if I may attempt to summarise the arguments of the objectors and to put them in slightly different form from the speeches of noble Lords who have spoken so far—they say that further expansion of Stanlow to as much as 25 or 30 million tons may not be required because oil demand in the North-West is growing more slowly than in other parts of the country. Secondly, since as much as 100 million tons a year may be produced by North Sea oil fields in 1980, it would be more economical to feed Stanlow by means of a trans-Pennine pipeline. Thirdly, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board has said that it can accommodate an increase of 50 per cent. in tanker traffic coming into the Tranmere terminal and therefore Amlwch is unnecessary. Fourthly, that whatever Shell or the Anglesey County Council may say, the existence of the terminal at Amlwch will create pressure by other companies for refineries and even petro-chemical plants elsewhere on the island. Finally, that the local public inquiry and the two Select Committees have not been able to examine the scheme in its entirety or to consider the alternative choices from the standpoint of the public interest. I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has said, that we want to consider whether the 1968 Act procedure does not enable us to consider offshore and land installations at one and the same inquiry and whether some Amendment to the 1968 Act is not now required.

As things are, the Select Committee has looked at the offshore installation; the public local inquiry has examined the shore station and the tank farm, and later on there will be a separate inquiry under the Pipelines Act 1962 into the pipeline between Rhosgoch and Stanlow. Having got thus far, I think it would be utterly unreasonable to the Anglesey County Council, to the Shell company and to the consumers who will depend on Stanlow and who will ultimately have to bear the increased costs if the terminal is not constructed, if the whole of the last year's work were to be set aside, because that is what the appointment of a planning inquiry committee at this stage would mean, or indeed the acceptance of the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman.

Moreover, the limitations on the procedures followed have been at least partly overcome in that the inspector permitted discussion of matters that were not strictly within his terms of reference. It has been pointed out by the objectors that the inspector is not obliged to include such evidence or to make any reference to such evidence in his report to the Minister, but I would certainly expect that the Minister, in making his decision, would thoroughly examine all the evidence in his Department, whether or not it is mentioned by the inspector.

As to the threat of further development, it is said that Anglesey, with an S.B.M. terminal, would become an extremely attractive location for a company wishing to enter the North-Western market. We have already heard about the categorical assurance given by Shell to the county council and to the Select Committee that the company will not build a refinery, a chemical plant or any other project associated with these works not provided for in the scheme now under consideration, and no one has questioned this undertaking. What is being said is that some newcomer entering the field will request permission to develop on the island. So where is this hypothetical oil company going to get its oil from? Certainly not from Shell, which has good commercial reasons for minimising the competition which it has to face in the North-West. It is worth recalling, as Sir Elwyn Jones did in his summing-up speech at the public inquiry, that there is no way of compelling Shell to permit another company to make use of their offshore S.B.M.s or the local pipeline between Amlwch and Rosgoch or the tank farm at Rosgoch. With the approval of the Secretary of State, they could be made to allow another company to use the Rosgoch—Stanlow pipeline, but if that question ever arose the would-be competitor would obviously be thinking of a site on the mainland, nearer to the centre of the market.

In fact, Anglesey would be a most unsuitable location for the refinery of any oil company and not just of Shell. The objectors have pointed out that there are only two crude oil import terminals in Western Europe, at Finnart and Wilhelmshaven, which lack oil refineries, and they say this is because special geographical factors prevail in both those cases. But, my Lords, special factors operate in the case of Anglesey. For a start, road and rail access is extremely poor, so that most of the products would have to be moved by tanker. That means that such a hypothetical refinery would have to be located on the coast, and would need to be accompanied by installations for loading the products into tankers. The Amlwch harbour, even with the improvements that are to be made by the Shell company would be far too small for this purpose. Maybe there could be, theoretically, a loading S.B.M. for this hypothetical company to take products of the tankers, but I recall that the average size of a product batch is far too small to make an S.B.M. suitable for this purpose. Nor is there any site for a refinery at or near Amlwch that would be suitable on planning grounds. Most of the coast of the island is already designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, including the coast on either side of Amlwch itself.

The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, obviously has not been to Amlwch or he would not have dismissed my remark about the Corporation rubbish tip by saying, "Oh well, there are corporation rubbish tips everywhere". This is the only place on that stretch of the coast which is unsightly, but as soon as you leave the town you have some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline that could be imagined. If a site could be found somewhere away from Amlwch and not on either side of it but still on the island, it would defeat the supposed object of this exercise, which is to take advantage of Shell's terminal facilities. A new pipeline would have to be constructed to serve the refinery, and this would clearly be more expensive than using the pipeline that will already exist from Rosgoch to the mainland.

In theory, I should imagine that it would be possible to continue to use Tranmere, and of course there is no alternative until the new terminal is completed. But the existing facilities can only handle vessels of up to 90,000 tons full laden. This means that the very large crude carriers have first to discharge some of their load into smaller vessels before they can enter the terminal and unload there.

The Select Committee found, in paragraph 8 of its Report: The whole of the North coast of Wales is exposed to risk of major oil pollution arising from accidents to tankers going to and from the Mersey through the congested sea lanes of Liverpool Bay, and to a lesser extent from the transfer of oil cargoes at sea. These risks are bound to increase as the volume of oil brought into the Mersey by present methods increases. That was the view of the Select Committee as the noble Lord, Lord Royle, has reminded us. So although it would be possible and perfectly legal to carry on with present methods, at least for the next few years, it would be highly undesirable to do so for any longer than is necessary.

Much attention has been focused in the Select Committee on the problem of spillage, and the reconvened Select Committee has examined new evidence from Shell on the experience of S.B.M.s in various parts of the world. It is a matter of common sense, I suggest, that if the risk is equal every time a coupling or uncoupling operation takes place, transferring between one tanker and another at sea and taking both into a terminal is an operation three times as risky as taking one very large carrier into a terminal at an S.B.M. and having one coupling and uncoupling operation at that terminal. And this, of course, assumes that no greater risk arises from transferring oil between one vessel and another at sea than transferring between a tanker and a shore installation where you have personnel who are well trained, permanently stationed at the shore and very experienced in the operation concerned. Apart from the dangers of pollution from the continuing use of Tranmere, it is going to be very expensive indeed. If this Bill were not passed we should be denying to consumers in the North-West and in the other areas served by Stanlow the benefit of cheaper fuel.

May I say one word about the prospects of oil discovery in the North Sea? Professor Odell obviously attached great importance to this, and the objectors say that it has become more critical since the inquiry was held. No one, not even the company themselves, nor the D.T.I., can forecast how much oil will be produced from the North Sea. But let us assume that Professor Odell's estimate of 100 million tons a year by 1980 is correct. He tells me that at the time of the inquiry he was thinking in terms of 75 million tons, but in the light of developments since then he feels that the higher figure is now probable. But where are the largest oilfields going to be found? By far the highest figure paid for any block in the August, 1971, auction was the £21 million for 211/21, which is 430 kilometres North-East of John o' Groats. The depth of water in this block is up to 150 metres, and the nearest land is over 50 kilometres away, the Shetland Islands.

If one bears in mind the formidable difficulties of even drilling in such depths and the fact that no oil company has yet laid pipelines in water 150 metres deep or in anything approaching such conditions, it is a fair assumption that the Shell-Esso consortium would have paid £21 million only if they were reasonably certain of finding very large quantities of oil. And, to a lesser extent. the same arguments apply to the Mobil Group's bid of £6.3 million for block 9/13. It is clear that if oil is discovered in either of those two blocks, or in the next allocation which is shortly to be awarded to the West, on the other side of the Orkneys and Shetlands, it would have to be brought ashore in the islands and taken from there to the mainland by means of oil tankers. This means that you will have a loading S.B.M. in the North of Shetland, and you would have physically to import this oil, even though from the balance of payments point of view it is British oil.

Secondly, oil found in these latitudes is not necessarily going to be processed in East Coast refineries. It makes very little difference whether you take it to Amlwch, to Grangemouth or to Teesside. There would certainly be no point whatsoever in building a trans-Pennine pipeline, as suggested, if it has to be brought to the mainland by tanker first. Looking at the map again, there is a cluster of blocks awarded last August roughly on the latitude of Aberdeen, including 15/26 for which B.P./Deminex paid £3.4 million. I hardly imagine that anyone is going to suggest constructing a pipeline from Aberdeen to Stanlow. The North Sea is a very large area and it does not finish opposite Hull, as the objectors seem to imagine. It is wrong to assume that if it does yield as much as 100 million tons in 1980 that would make any difference at all to the need for a terminal at Amlwch. Incidentally, it is not right to assume that North Sea oil will necessarily be processed in the United Kingdom, because it makes no difference to the balance of payments whether you use this oil in the United Kingdom or whether you export it and use the foreign exchange thereby generated to pay for other sources of crude which may be more suitable for the requirements of this country, where heavy fuel oil dominates the market. In the North Sea the oil found so far is of very light specific gravity.

Even if demand on the Stanlow refinery stopped at the 18 million tons projected for 1973, the Amwlch terminal would still make sense, from both environmental and economic points of view. It appears to be the opinion of the objectors that because oil demand has been rising more slowly in the North West than in the country as a whole, the forecasts of the company are of doubtful validity. To this there are two answers. One is that Stanlow serves not only the North West but part of the Midlands and the North, extending as far as the Borders of Scotland. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from a study of the economy of the North West by itself are useless. Secondly, the company does not make forecasts, as Professor Odell appeared to be suggesting at the public inquiry, just by the crude process—that is not meant to be a pun—of extrapolating from past experience. What they do is to break up the; market into its components and assess each one separately in the light of all the available commercial intelligence. Forecasting is not an exact science, but the better the data available to you the more likely you are to be right. Therefore I say that Shell is more likely to be accurate than the objectors. And, after all, if Shell makes a mistake, it is the company who will pay and not the objectors who will suffer any loss.

Finally, considering the terminal as a development in itself, without regard to wider national considerations, if I may say sum it up, the Corporation rubbish tip will go and be replaced by the shore installations, which will be more sightly. The single buoy mooring offshore 2 miles away will hardly be noticed, while the very large crude carriers moored at them will be an added tourist attraction. The harbour at Amlwch will be greatly improved and could become, as Sir Donald Gibson pointed out at the inquiry a major asset on this part of the Anglesey coast ". The trades council is on record as supporting the proposals, as are several individual trade unions and the local unemployed. The tank farm at Rhosgoch will be visible only from a few places of outstanding natural beauty, and from practically none on the coast where most of the tourists go. The risk of pollution on the beaches is going to be less than if the terminal is not constructed.

The Member of Parliament backs the scheme, as does the County Council itself, and I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that the views of the people of Anglesey are a more important test of acceptability in this case than the views of the Minister and the public inquiry. With great respect to all those whose views about the preservation of the environment I share and applaud, I think all the arguments are on the side of the promoters. And even if this were not so and the balance were to be more finely drawn, I think it would surely be improper for the non-elected House to make the final decision on this Bill. I hope, therefore, that even those who still believe, in the face of all the evidence, that the Bill should not be supported, will at least allow it to go forward to another place without a Division.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to take up the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, because he speaks with great expertise which I do not command; he admits that other experts take a different view. His expertise illustrates perhaps an example of the difficulties which this House, or even a Select Committee, must have in assessing these matters.

I think it is my function to explain the point of view of the two of us on the Committee who did not agree with the three who were the majority. At the moment, Parliament is being asked to approve a scheme to which it cannot consider alternatives. It is as though Stansted were before us and we were forbidden from considering Cublington or Foulness. A Planning Inquiry Commission, so far refused by the Minister, would have been empowered to consider alternatives and undertake research—for instance, a computer model—and to look into technical aspects, but not a Private Bill Committee of this House.

I think I should say that I have a great respect for the Shell company, both as enlightened employers and as good citizens of the world. Lately I have heard about the splendid work they did in Nairobi in establishing the Starehe School for unfortunate lost boys after Mau Mau, but that is characteristic of their good citizenship in the world. I must declare an interest since I am one of their shareholders—as so many people seem to be —but also a counter-interest since I am a member of the National Trust and the Wildfowl Trust, and so on.

Shell's judgment on matters of planning, on winds and currents, on the effects of pollution, and even more on minor spillages, on the noise and on the smell of installations, and on their effect on bed and breakfast holidaymakers, so important in a predominantly agricultural area, cannot be infallible. And on the proposals of this Bill they are to some extent, subject to the decision of Parliament, in the position of judges in their own cause. So far as I can see, if the Bill proceeds and is not referred to some independent body able to consider alternative sites, nobody will have been in a position (other than Shell themselves) to say whether this deep water terminal could not be placed elsewhere, in some position that would involve less risk to a clean and beautiful stretch of coast—I am not talking about the harbour but the coast—and conflict less with the principles of planning and conservation, which surely demand that, when so much of our coast is contaminated already, the cleanliness of the rest should be preserved.

We are faced, my Lords, with the problem of whether some parts of our natural resources are not too valuable to be sacrificed even in return for generous compensation. Shell, with the power of their long purse, have felt able to offer compensation in advance—so much per ton on oil landed. This offer of permanent compensation has "squared" the Anglesey County Council who, as might be expected, first opposed the Bill when it was brought forward by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, acting, someone said, as Shell's catspaw; and the County Council have "squared" the Amlwch Urban District Council, who were indeed petitioners against the Bill when it first came before us. There is nothing improper about such "squaring" —it is a matter of compensation for this and that—and everybody has been financially generous. It is perhaps interesting to note that it came out in evidence that some members of the Anglesey Tourist Association at first hesitated to oppose the County Council's Bill because of a grant they receive from the Council and which they feared they might lose. The Council never actually threatened to withdraw it, but the power of the long purse can be seen working right down the line.

Shell first presumably looked at the economics of their proposal, and these economics are of course of great importance to us all. It was stated in evidence that their proposed terminal would be the first in North Western Europe to take these tankers of 300,000 tons, and that this would lead to economies of great value to industry. Such considerations obviously enable Shell to be generous. But, my Lords, is finance to be the only yardstick? In any event, the evidence of Professor Odell—whom the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has mentioned—given last October before the Minister's inspector, sheds serious doubts as to these economic advantages. I do not want to go into that because I must confine myself mainly to the evidence given before the Committee.

Shell contend that the larger, and so the fewer, the tankers, the less the risk of collision—and that by avoiding the neighbourhood of the Mersey that risk would be further reduced. On the other hand, two sea captains with close knowledge of the coast told us that in certain conditions they regard the position two miles North of Anglesey as a high risk area for collisions. Captain Williams said the terminal would be at a focal point for traffic in and out of Liverpool. Captain Davy, Master of the car ferry from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire, said: The traffic fluctuates greatly. At low water at Holyhead the traffic is considerable because ships are making for the high water at Liverpool. They take the inside channel of the recommended lane round The Skerries. The same applies to outward bound traffic. He considered it an area of high collision risk at these times, and, my Lords, a collision involving one of these enormous ships would be disastrous. The risk seems to me to be increased by the fact that they would swing their great length through 360 degrees at their moorings.

There is shelter outside Amlwch only from the prevalent South-West winds, but none whatever from the North, and we heard from a sea captain of Shell's that, in a gale, their vast tankers would have to seek shelter in Liverpool Bay. We also heard from Captain Davy that however sheltered the North coast of Anglesey may be from the South-West, there can on exceptional occasions, when the wind is Northerly, be a wave 30 feet high—and that waves from six to eight or ten feet high occur regularly between five and 10 per cent. of the year. We have only to consider these maritime factors and that the sea lanes to the Mersey pass not far beyond the two miles to feel some grave anxiety about the risk of collisions. Furthermore, the tankers on turning round to go South would have to cross the sea lanes.

On spillages we heard, first, that such things were virtually unknown at single buoy moorings, but this evidence was somewhat modified as our hearings proceeded. In shore oil installations (not at single buoy moorings) frequent spillages were mentioned, for instance at Milford Haven. I mentioned the prosecutions for spillages referred to in the Irish Parliament as taking place at Widdy Island in County Kerry, and these were not denied. It is hard to believe that Shell have techniques for avoiding spillage unknown to the other oil companies, or that intake on a heaving buoy from a heaving ship is less likely to lead to spillages than pumping ashore in a harbour. I could not help feeling that the relatively clean record of single buoy moorings was that spillages at sea in remote places often pass unnoticed except by the dying sea birds who are not able to report them. It is noteworthy that at the comparatively new single buoy moorings at Durban, where particularly careful records have had to be kept, 23 spillages were observed from 91 tankers in 12 months.

After the inspector's inquiry in October, the Shell company had to come back to Parliament because they had discovered evidence of many more spillages. The Bill, as your Lordships know, had to be re-committed, and the new evidence is the subject of our second report. We heard that there was greater risk of spillage from oil being pumped into ships than when pumped ashore, and that Shell were only concerned at Amlwch with that but in any case oil for bunkering will have to be pumped ashore there and then pumped out into the tankers. It is quite obvious to me that there would be some spillages, and a biologist said in his evidence that numerous smaller circles of oil were particularly deadly to diving birds—who, after all, never in fact reach the centre of a large oil slick; it is the edge that matters.

The importance of the coast of Anglesey to the Faculty of Marine Biology at Bangor University, a faculty for which that university may be said to be internationally famous, was explained to us; and it appeared further that it was the clean unspoilt beaches of Anglesey which are the main attraction to its holiday visitors. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Royle, although he mentioned that Amlwch itself was not so beautiful, will bear witness, because he said so in private conversation, to the great beauty of those beaches.

For myself, I rate what I regard as the inevitable pollution of the beaches from time to time under the Bill as much more serious than the siting and landscaping of installations, regarding which Shell's architectural witness, Gordon Graham, showed that they were prepared to take great trouble. However, no witness was able to satisfy me that at this place, where townsmen come on holiday in search of peace and quiet, there would not be a noise from pumping all night long which it was admitted would be necessary, or that there would not be some aroma of oil. I put to a witness the suggestion that an oil spillage in a harbour was more easily detected and contained than in the open sea. The reply seemed to be "Yes". I put to another witness that 10 or 20 miles out would give a better chance of dealing with an oil slick before it reached the shore than 2 miles. Again, the answer seemed to be "Yes". Since we sat, it has been reported in The Times that on July 15 an oil slick six miles long was breaking up 12 miles off the coast of Anglesey. One wonders whether if the slick had occurred only 2 miles off it would have reached the coast.

It was admitted that there were other places which could be considered for pumping operations to Shell's refinery at Stanlow, but it was not in our competence to consider these. The most powerful argument produced by Shell for landing from tankers was that large tankers at present need to be lightened at sea before proceeding into the Mersey, by transferring oil, with consequent risk of spillage. However, this argument seemed to contradict the promoters' suggestion that there would never be spillages at the single-buoy moorings. As I have said, a heaving buoy is surely not unlike a heaving ship, with all the hazards of undetected spillage in the darkness of the night when much of the pumping would be done.


My Lords, surely the noble Lord will agree that there is a difference between a ship lightening at sea under uncontrolled conditions, and a ship off-loading to a single buoy mooring under highly controlled conditions, with every kind of anti-pollution provision on hand, with launches standing ready, with qualified crew and with qualified supervisors, all under the control of an authority which is in turn under civil and not under Shell control?


My Lords, of course I must accept that, but one thing which is not under control is the weather.

I welcome the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, since, by the agreement of all concerned, additional evidence on marine and economic aspects was given at the local inquiry which might well have affected our Committee's decision. It seems to me that Professor Odell's evidence, in particular, might cause the Minister to change his mind and have alternative sites considered by a planning inquiry commission, or otherwise. But which Minister—Wales, the Environment, or Trade and Industry? A Mr. Jones gave evidence before us of the attitude of the Minister for the Environment, expressed in a letter to the noble Marquess, Lord Anglesey. When I asked him whether it was like the laws of the Medes and Persians, he said, "I suppose it would always be possible for him to change his mind." The noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, asked him whether the Minister had considered the question of oil supplies generally, but Mr. Jones said that that was a matter for Trade and Industry. Was there ever such an example of inter-departmental confusion and buck-passing?

Anyway, our Chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Royle, was determined to clear up the obscure position of Ministerial attitudes, so we adjourned until another Mr. Jones could come along from Trade and Industry. The second Mr. Jones said that it was his Department's basic policy to leave it to private industry to devise means and methods of supplying the customer. He concluded: We leave the siting of refineries and terminals to the industry, and we leave it to them to push it through the various procedures. The Third Reading in this House is one of the various procedures, and I hope we shall resist the pushing process and insist that the proposals and alternative arrangements are at least examined by the Ministers concerned, with a view to seeing whether they will change their minds and have the question of the nation's oil supplies properly looked into by some independent and qualified body.

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, if I may join in this debate as someone whose maiden name was Jones, we have before us two quite distinct matters. One is the merit or demerit of the Bill, and the other is the question raised in the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman—the satisfactory nature, or what some of us regard as the profoundly unsatisfactory nature, of the procedure which we are required to follow in determining these matters. I should like to make it quite clear on the merits of the Bill that my own personal inclination would be to support it. But I say that with considerable hesitation which I shall I explain in a moment, because I do not think we have been put in a position to reach an adequate judgment on the matter this afternoon.

I am moved to support the Bill by a very strong feeling of sympathy with the people of Anglesey in their need for further employment. The situation in Anglesey, as I know only too well, both as a Welsh woman and as someone who at one time had responsibility in the Welsh Office for employment, has been intractable in the extreme. I should particularly like to pay tribute to the right honourable gentleman Mr. Cledwyn Hughes, the Member of Parliament for Anglesey, for the efforts which he has made over the years to attract enterprises bringing further employment to the island. No one could have worked harder or been more devoted in the cause of his constituency. Also, the County Council, which is the promoter of the Bill, has been one of the most enterprising county councils in a situation which is far from easy, because they have to try to reconcile the need to preserve the amenities of a holiday area with the need to provide year-round employment—not just seasonal employment—for the inhabitants of the island. So, from that point of view, anything which would bring even a relatively small number of new permanent jobs would in itself be welcome. Similarly, I must say that I support the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, as against the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, so far as the rubbish tip is concerned. One has only to see the place to realise that almost anything Shell could do would be an improvement on what it is. Therefore, so far as the immediate proposed location of the shore works is concerned, I should not be in any way averse to the Bill's going through.

But where I am much worried is that, in spite of the devoted labours of the Select Committee, to whom I am sure we should all pay tribute, those of us who are lay persons are, nevertheless, not really in a position to make up our minds on the merits. I had the temerity to interrupt my noble friend Lord Royle when he was referring to the undertakings given—one in the First Report and the other in the Second Report of the Select Committee—because the mere fact that those were called for and specially mentioned by the Select Committee meant that they had some sense of unease about those two matters. One, which is referred to on page 11 of the First Report, is the possibility that the next step after the present application has been accepted—if it is to be—might well be an application to construct a refinery or a petro-chemical complex at Anglesey. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, rather poured scorn on this, but we should at least bear in mind that the original plan at Milford Haven was very similar to this one in the sense that it was built in order not to refine the oil on the spot but to pump it to Llandarcy, which is comparable with the proposal to pump oil from Anglesey to Stanlow. But what happened was that once that had been established, other oil companies looked at the area and said, "This might be a good place for us", and we now have a whole series of refineries, more or less landscaped, up and down Milford Haven. So, with great respect to Lord Avebury, I should have thought it was at least conceivable that in the future some other company might come along and suggest that this was a possible place for establishing some other sort of works.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether the companies concerned had the encouragement of the Pembrokeshire County Council in putting refineries on that land, and was it on land which was designated as of outstanding natural beauty?


If I may answer that, my Lords, I do not think it is either here or there whether that particular county council took one attitude or another. I should have thought the haven at Milford Haven is something of natural beauty which has not been improved (shall I put it?) even with all the safeguards which, I must admit fairly, have been observed by the various oil companies concerned.


My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Baroness, but as a former director of the Milford Docks Company I have some slight knowledge of the affairs about which she is speaking. Does she really think that the sheltered waters of Milford Haven, which have proved suitable for jetties plus refineries, are in any way remotely comparable to the situation on the coast of Anglesey, which is to any layman obviously suited only to S.B.M.?


If you can have one S.B.M. presumably you might even have another. This is a matter on which, again, I do not think we have necessarily had complete information.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but was the noble Baroness not saying that the danger was more refineries, and that these would be brought into being, or could be brought into being, by the existence of S.B.M.s? I thought that was the argument.


My Lords, what I am suggesting is that if one company goes to a place, other companies are apt to follow. I take the noble Earl's point that refineries are not necessarily suited to Anglesey, but there are possibilities, if you once start an establishment of this kind, that thereby you may attract others. There I think we have again the dilemma in which we are always placed: they might bring some slight employment, which is valuable in itself, but they might further damage an area which, I must put firmly to your Lordships, has already been considerably damaged by the Octel company. Anybody who has been to this place will have great sympathy with the local residents who are opposing this Bill—and some of them most emphatically are—because they say, "A few years back we were approached on just the same sort of grounds, that employment is needed in Anglesey and therefore we should accede to the application of", at that time the Octel company, which distils sea-water, as I understand it, but which has been allowed to erect the most hideous buildings on a very conspicuous headland immediately to the side of the harbour which Shell is applying now to develop. Therefore there is some substance, I think, in the apprehensions of the petitioners that in the future there may not be, as there has not been in the past, satisfactory control over this kind of development on a very sensitive coast.

So this particular assurance, given in paragraph 11 of the First Report, while it may be entirely valid—and I would accept this without hesitation—so far as the Shell Company is concerned, may not necessarily be entirely conclusive so far as other enterprises are concerned. Similarly, the assurance given in the seventh paragraph of the Second Report. This assurance is given in these terms: That except for the consent of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Wales, the company undertake that they will not use the works authorised by the Bill, or permit them to be used, for the export of crude oil". The point about this, of course, is that if the crude oil was exported instead of imported the danger of spillage would be greatly increased; that is common ground. But this is the assurance of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Wales at the time, whoever they may be. There will be no Parliamentary control whatever over such developments. It is not written into the Bill. This is simply a general undertaking which would then pass entirely from our hands; we should have no control over it at all. So I am a bit concerned about these two matters which are specifically referred to by the Select Committee. As I say, it seems to me that they have only very limited validity as assurances for the future.

Now, my Lords, I do not wish to go into the many other points of detail which have been touched upon already in the debate, but I do want to come to this question of procedure, because it is this which really worries me. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is going to press his Amendment, but if he does I will vote for it, and I will vote for it for this reason: not because I do not have sympathy with the objects of the Bill—I do—but because I do not feel satisfied that we have had an opportunity to look at the whole question of this type of development in its full context. I would suggest that, particularly in your Lordships' House, if we are in a situation of this kind we must at some point make some protest, and the only way in which I think we can do this on this occasion is by following the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I had first intended to make some critical remarks about the refusal of the Secretary of State for Wales at an earlier stage to appoint a planning inquiry commission, but I now understand from what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has told us that in fact he could not do so under the existing law; that is to say, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1968. This surely, my Lords, indicates that there is a defect in our legislation, because he ought to have been able to do so. This was a case in which the whole complex situation ought to have been examined as one project in all its aspects.

But, far from that, we have a Private Bill before Parliament; we have no fewer than three Secretaries of State concerned with one aspect or another of this matter; we have not yet had the report of the inspector, still less, of course, the decision of the Secretary of State for Wales, on the planning aspects; and we have not even the evidence officially before us. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said that one could read the transcript. One can do so by courtesy, I think, of Shell: one cannot do so officially. I myself went last Friday to the Welsh Office, where I was received, naturally, with the greatest of courtesy, and asked if I could see a transcript of the public hearing, which lasted nearly five weeks. I was told, "We are very sorry; we do not prepare transcripts". There is no official verbatim report of one of these public inquiries. The inspector makes notes, which, as I understand it, are personal to him and on which his report to the Secretary will be based. Now we just do not know whether or not the inspector will go into the evidence of, for example, Professor Odell, of which I have in fact obtained a transcript. He is not under any obligation to do so, if he does not wish to. I am not quite clear how the Secretary of State is to take cognisance of this evidence. He can presumably apply to Shell or to the petitioners for a transcript; but he is under no obligation to do so.

Nor, with great respect, do I believe that the inspector at the planning inquiry is qualified to judge the sort of wider considerations which were indeed admitted as evidence but which really are not normal planning evidence at all. Therefore it seems to me that those of us who are, as I say, lay people in these matters are put in a very difficult position, because we cannot judge adequately to-day, to my mind, the wider issues raised by a question of this sort. I repeat: we just do not know whether or not these wider issues of the whole business of planning of oil supplies, and of how they should be handled in relation to amenity and other matters, are going to come into the inspector's report. This certainly would be profoundly unsatisfactory. Then, when the Secretary of State for Wales has made up his mind on the planning inquiry, and has let us know what he thinks about that, we still have the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who, under the Pipelines Act 1962, has to look at the pipelines proposals; and we also have the Secretary of State for the Environment who has to make up his mind under Section 9 of the Harbours Act 1964 on what he thinks about the expenditure on the harbour.

As the noble Lord, Lord Royle, pointed out in the Select Committee this is of some relevance, because there was a previous occasion, on the Bristol Docks Private Bill when the Bill was given to the promoters by the House but the then Minister responsible turned it down on economic grounds. So we have a very large number of cooks in this particular broth. It seems to me therefore that if it was not possible for the Secretary of State for Wales, on perfectly proper grounds, to set up a planning inquiry commission we ought to indicate by our voices to-day that we feel he should have been placed in a position so to do. If the Town and Country Planning Act 1968 is inadequate to cover a situation like this, then that Act should be amended.

My Lords, it is for those reasons, with considerable sympathy for the objects of the Bill but with complete and profound dissatisfaction with the procedures that we are being asked to follow, that I shall support the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. There is a further reason, one which I mentioned on Second Reading months ago. It is the position of the voluntary societies, of the amenity societies in this matter. They are now expected to make their representations not once but at least twice, and it may be three times. This seems to me to be a quite intolerable burden in a situation of this kind. They should be given the opportunity to bring forward their evidence on just one occasion and not have to appear at a five-week hearing on a planning application, at an eight-day hearing in this House and a further hearing in another place, and to have to bear the expense of bringing their witnesses, taking time off work, using up their holidays and so on. They should be asked to do that once in a good cause, but not twice or three times. This again is a strong reason why we should make it plain that we find the present procedure a defective one that should be amended.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, as I have the pleasure of following the noble Baroness, Lady White, perhaps I may start by adding a word on the point she raised referring to the assurances given in the two special reports. I do not need to add anything about the refinery, which has been dealt with; but so far as the use of the mooring for the purpose of exporting crude oil is concerned, it was explained to the Committee that in order to enable that to be done it would be necessary to make changes in the installation in the shape of introducing stronger pumps and various different kinds of valves. That, I assume, would become subject to a local planning inquiry; so there is control beyond the mere assurances of the Secretary of State.


My Lords, with respect, I understood that the marine works are not subject to planning.


My Lords, these works, I think, will be on land. If the crude oil is to be pumped from the land to the ships, the pumps must be on land. That is why new apparatus must be installed at Amlwch itself.

On the main issue before the House, I do not favour this Amendment because I think the time has come for decision. This project has been under consideration for over two years. It has been given careful examination and has been fully discussed. As a result of that examination and that discussion, the original scheme has been substantially modified. I should not think of mentioning all the changes, even if I could remember them; but I think that the significant fact is the one mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale: that, whereas the original scheme was opposed by the local authority, this Bill has been accepted by the Amlwch Urban Council and is being promoted by the Anglesey County Council. Even if the Bill is passed it is still possible to introduce further modifications in the project—for instance, in order to give effect to any recommendations which there may be in the inspector's report.

But I think it would be an illusion to imagine that further modifications will make this project generally acceptable. Those who still object to the project, object not so much to particular features but to the whole idea of establishing a terminal in Anglesey. On the other hand, any delay in starting work on the project is bound to put off the time when we can expect to enjoy its benefits. Those benefits were fully described by the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, and therefore I need not repeat them. If one believes, as I do, that those benefits are of national importance, then one would like this country to begin enjoying them as quickly as possible.

We have been told that the extensions to the refinery at Stanlow will be ready by the end of 1973. On no estimate can this terminal be ready by then; but let us keep the time-lag as short as possible. I think that there is a risk of making it greater if we accept this Amendment—even if it only a question of Parliamentary time. It has been pointed out to-day that there is a real danger of slippage into the autumn. But I think we are dealing here not simply with the hazards of the Parliamentary Timetable. This Amendment is intended to pave the way for more delay, for examination of other sites and other possibilities. In the Select Committee we heard quite a lot about the idea of a planning inquiry commission. I noticed that the subject of the planning inquiry Commission had been dealt with during the debate last week on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Molson. The Government spokesman then pointed out what a very unsatisfactory procedure it was—costly, cumbrous and exceedingly time-consuming. Since we have heard to-day that under the existing law a planning inquiry commission would in any case be unable to consider the seaward works in this particular project, I hope that we have heard the last of any ideas of referring this subject to such a commission.

But there has been mention to-day of a wider inquiry of another kind: whether the whole subject of the exploitation of North Sea oil ought to be examined; whether there should be examination of the national oil policy, or perhaps even of the fuel policy as such. Yesterday, in the course of the debate on coal, the noble Baroness, Lady White, suggested that the whole question of procedure should be looked into. It is certainly not for me to say whether any one, or all, of these are not worthwhile things to do; but I submit that this proposal is not relevant to the passage of this Bill. I think that it relates to a completely different time-scale. In considering the exploitation of the North Sea or a national fuel policy, surely we are addressing our minds to the last years of this decade, or to the next decade. The Bill that we are now considering is designed to meet needs that will arise at the end of next year. I should have thought that we cannot within the foreseeable future dispense with oil from the Middle East, and therefore it is only prudent to try to arrange to bring it in cheaply and safely, and to do that as rapidly as possible.

We have heard of alternative sites. Amlwch was not haphazardly chosen. Other possibilities were considered, but they were not pursued because the other sites did not meet some of the requirements. It is not simply a depth of water that is required; it is a depth sufficiently near the shore and sufficiently sheltered. The distance from the refinery is also relevant. The site at Amlwch seems to fulfil these requirements. The Shell company believe that they can operate successfully from that site and they are ready to back their judgment and to invest large sums of money. The Anglesey County Council, after a careful study lasting over two years, have come to the conclusion that the disadvantages of this site, the harm to the amenities, the risks of more oil spillages close to the land, are not so great as to outweigh the benefits for the nation and for the island. I hope that your Lordships will endorse that conclusion and give the Bill a Third Reading this afternoon.

6.22 p.m.


My Lords, much to my regret, I have no financial or any other interest in this huge company. I wish to deal with environmental and conservation issues and the company's attitude to points that obviously greatly concern my noble friend Lord Moyne. I happen to know from personal experience that Shell, the company involved in this project, has done more for the conservation of wildlife and the environment than most other major companies in the United Kingdom. They are substantial contributors to the World Wildlife Fund and to the Nature Conservancy. They give unrestricted research grants to a number of scientists in the conservation field and also make contributions for specific projects such as the conservation unit at Newcastle University where work is being done on oiled seabirds. In addition, my Lords, work on conservation is being carried on all the time in their own laboratories.

An important point is that Shell are one of the few companies to have a conservation committee on which every major function of the company is represented at a high level. This committee, I understand, reports directly to the Chairman. Every aspect of environmental conservation of the group is watched most carefully to see that standards are maintained. Shell, as I am sure your Lordships are aware, produce a large number of publications on flora and fauna. There are, for instance, the Shell East Africa guides on birds, flowers and wildlife parks, etcetera, and the excellent maps which cover the distribution of fauna throughout the African continent.

I have been granted most valuable practical assistance from Shell. After traveling: 1,550 miles through the Sahara I re-established that the Addax still existed in that country. My paper on this species was published in the International Union Conservation of Nature bulletin in July/September, 1969. My trip was materially assisted by Shell, and I am very happy to have this opportunity of confirming to your Lordships Shell's dedication to the cause of conservation. It is a very strong one indeed. As an amateur naturalist I am convinced that this project will not threaten our natural environment, but failure to go ahead may damage another species in which I am interested—homo sapiens, whose biggest problem to-day in this country is unemployment.

The project before your Lordships involves an expenditure by the company now estimated at £55 million, an increase on the figure which the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, put forward, which means work for a large number of our people. That is an argument which no one in this House can contest, with to-day's dreadful unemployment figures. Therefore, my Lords, I give my very strong support to this Bill, being convinced that it will not damage our environment, and that it will result in additional work for our factories and employment for our people.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask whether he is aware, and agrees, that although they brought employment, the Rio Tinto Works caused more unemployment? People came in and jobs were taken and economists are puzzled by what happened. But is not there a danger that the same thing may happen at Amlwch? People will come in and settle there. But can all the jobs, technical as they are, be taken by local people?


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for raising this point and I hasten to admit that I am not qualified to answer him. Undoubtedly, a number of technical jobs will have to be handled by specialists who will have to be brought into the area. When he addressed us earlier this afternoon the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, made the point that there would be some 60 local people needed to work on a permanent basis. Also, my Lords, there is the other point, that where you have a project involving £55 million a very large element of the bill must relate to capital goods. I assume that these goods—pipes, drums, pumps and all the other machinery which is necessary—will have to be produced in our factories. This means a very substantial increase of orders for all the companies involved in that sort of work, and I hope it would result in more employment for the work force in those industries.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I am neither the right person nor qualified to comment on the exact location of the terminal; instead, I should like to take a step back and take a broader view of the whole question of bulk shipment which has led to this Bill which we are considering to-day. We are in the midst of a very far-reaching revolution in the national and international shipment of manufactured goods and raw materials. This revolution, which has been kindled and fanned by the demand for increased speed of shipment, lower prices, and so on, has led, among other things, to this very widespread development of containerisation and shipment in bulk. These moves stretch across all industry sectors and, as we know, have in the past decade dramatically influenced the methods of shipment by road, rail, air and sea. It is one of these developments that affects us to-day.

In the few moments before me I should like to look at the existence and the desirable or undesirable future of the giant oil tanker and its methods of unloading at its United Kingdom port of call. There is here an underlying trend which we must accept and recognise, and this is the trend towards larger and larger tankers. We must recognise, too, that there are now—and there will be more in the future—major changes in methods of loading and unloading and in final distribution. What we are worried about is ensuring that any economic benefits which this trend will bring are not offset by the increased risks and potential dangers in the pollution area at whatever points in the chain they may be caught. As one might expect, we have a conflict of interest. I cannot, as I say, comment on the exact location of the terminal, but I tend to accord very much with the views of my noble friend Lord Hood.

We have at the moment in the world some 350 tankers of over 100,000 tons; 240 of these, classified as V.L.C.s are of over 166,000 tons; several are of a quarter of a million tons or more; and the one million tons tanker is perhaps more than just a gleam in the designer's eye. These ships are no longer, I believe, ordinary cargo ships: some people might call them artificial islands on the high seas. They need special consideration and special facilities for loading and unloading. I think, from the little that I know of the subject, that of these the single buoy mooring system is perhaps the simplest, most effective and safest that has been designed to-day. There may be better designs in the future, but for the moment I think that is the best. Those who doubt its viability and its safety should bear in mind that all the oil companies have a very heavy investment, a heavy stake, in this—one they have not made, and will not make, lightly. The other point is that they have an equally heavy investment in the tankers themselves. I gather that a giant tanker to-day can cost as much as £18 million, and that its cargo can have an insured value of £2 million to £3 million, which gives it a value of over £20 million and places it in terms of market capitalisation comfortably among the top 200 companies in this country. I do not believe this is the sort of investment that people play around with lightly.

Another point arises when one talks of these large sums of money. The large tankers carry insurance for pollution risk of around £15 million; but I think it would be totally wrong to assume that damage to the environment by oil pollution can always be compensated for by hard cash. The insurance should be at the other end, by making sure that any risks, however small, are guarded against in advance.

This leads me to a point which worries me in particular, and that is whether the current safeguards for tankers on passage, particularly when they approach the coast, are sufficient, and whether the time may not have come to place them in a special category. We have three elements involved here: the competence of the captain and the crew; the equipment and the performance of the ship itself; and the safety of the route which she takes as she approaches the coast. I cannot comment upon the competence of the crew, except to say that no responsible oil company is likely to entrust £20 million to anyone without the highest standards and qualification. There is of course the nagging doubt that some companies are not as responsible as others, and I cannot help querying whether ships that sail under a flag of convenience are likely to show the same responsibility as those which do not.

People have raised the question of the design of tankers and their safety in rough seas. I feel that there need be no cause for concern here. Under normal conditions—non-emergency conditions—these ships perform remarkably well. They are extremely manæuvrable. I must say that I myself doubted this and wondered how quickly they could alter course in a given situation, and I gather that such a thing as a 5-degree alteration in course can be achieved in as little as 8 seconds. These tankers, from what I have been told, appear to become almost more manæuvrable as their size increases.

This brings me to the one major area which does give me concern, and that is the safety of these tankers on passage as they go up and down the coast. Unfortunately, there is always the third party. There is the merchant ship under way on automatic pilot with the crew below making tea—and I know that this has happened. Then there is the single-handed yachtsman, exhausted and asleep; or the ship steaming too fast in thick fog; or—a general fear of some mariners—the submarine which surfaces and cannot hear the propellers of these vast ships because they have no warning noise and their noise is protected from above. These are worries, and trouble from any one of them, however small, could cause a major pollution disaster.

I think it is important to encourage these large tankers to keep out of the congested shipping lanes where they could be prey to the folly of others. They need special treatment, and perhaps even special rules of right of way. Maybe as they get bigger their movements should be reported and recorded; and perhaps when they reach one million tons they may need to have an outrider escort. Let us do one thing: let us try to keep them out of the English Channel. I certainly welcome any move that will take big ships out of the Channel. I think that somewhere between 300 and 400 ships move up or down the Channel every day, and not all of them behave responsibly. I think this is my main reason for wanting to support this Bill to-day.

A secondary one is the standard one that people comment on, that there is perhaps too much weight in the South-East of England at the moment—it is dipping into the sea—and anything that can be done to direct industry to the West and the North is a good idea. As I have said, my Lords, I am not qualified to talk about the individual aspects of this Bill, but in principle I think it is a right one. I am a little surprised that it should have taken such a long time to reach this stage. I hope that it will not be delayed any further, and I support the Third Reading.


My Lords, my noble friend said that these tankers are very manæuvrable. Has he any knowledge, for instance, of how long a 200,000-ton tanker going at 18 knots would take to come to a dead stop?


Yes, I think it is something like 15 times the waterline length, which would be about three miles under normal steam at sea, and assuming that no emergency operations are taken into account. If full emergency is taken into account, I am not sure what the distance is; but it dramatically narrows down. These vessels draw 65 feet, fully laden, and this gives them much greater manæuvrability. I am often amazed that these larger ships should have this manæuvrability. I doubted it, and I actually raised it with some of the people concerned: with the Department of United Kingdom General Shipping, with Shell and with a large shipping broker. Frankly, as I say, I did not really believe it; but it is a fact.


My Lords, we all seem reluctant to let the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, sit down. Does he agree with the views of the sea captains I quoted: that two miles out is very close to the sea lanes?


As I say, I do not know the environment, and I should hesitate to answer my noble friend on that point. Obviously, the further you are away from the shore and the sea lanes, the better. There is an ideal, and there is the right answer; but unfortunately they are not always the same.

6.38 p.m.


My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, because he is invariably well-informed and cogent, and I entirely agree with his arguments. The basic fact that we have to face to-day seems to me to be that Lancashire and all the area that it serves needs more energy, and it really is time that we began to think how this is going to be obtained. They need more oil, and they need it cheaply. I agree with those who say that this type of development in Lancashire is likely to be very important, because the extra refining capacity and the extra throughput of oil is likely to provide more raw materials for other industries, and this is all likely to provide not only the energy, but extra em- ployment in the area. I believe that these considerations are very important when we have such great unemployment in this country, particularly in the North and particularly in an area where some old industries have declined. I would not want it to be thought that for that reason I was against proper account being taken of environmental considerations. Nothing has been more disastrous in my lifetime than the disregard paid to the preservation of the amenities of our shores and rivers, and I certainly think that when we undertake a new development such as this we ought to ensure that the best possible scientific and industrial advice is obtained and the matter fully gone into.

I am very impressed with the way in which this inquiry was conducted by the Select Committee under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Royle. They seem to have gone into the matter carefully, to have been prepared to reconsider further evidence when it was produced, to have further meetings, and to produce a second report. I really think that the Select Committee deserve the thanks of your Lordships' House. I was also very impressed by the arguments used by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury.

Some points have been raised about the siting of the buoys. If you take a map of Anglesey and look at it carefully you will see that if you were to place a buoy 10 miles off Amlwch, as has been suggested, it would really not get shelter from the South-West wind—and the waves that come up the Irish Channel with a good South-West gale blowing are pretty formidable. I think there is no doubt therefore that a site further inshore offers more security for the safety of the shins, for the oil and for the amenities of the shore. In support of this view I mention that the Mersey pilots were very fully consulted in the course of the inquiry and they were at first not much in favour of this scheme because they did not think that the buoy was going to be correctly sited. It was on their advice that it has been placed two miles from the shore, where the shelter is better. Therefore I think the site now chosen is probably the best one. In any case, there is another consideration: that the further out from the shore you place the buoy the more likely you are to have collisions. I thought that the objections raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, were inconsistent with each other in this respect—the further out you place the buoy the more likely you are to have collisions.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way for a moment, regarding the two points, the nearer in the more danger there is of pollution inshore, and the further out the greater the risk of collision. The two things are consistent, from two different aspects.


My Lords, I fully take the noble Lord's point, but the further the ships are from the shore the more they are in the sea lanes, and I think that was the view of the Mersey pilots.

I personally hope that we shall not delay this Bill. I thought that the argument used by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in moving his Amendment really cut both ways. It is true that it would be interesting for this House to wait and see if the ministerial decision comes down in favour of the pipeline and the associated installations. But, on the other hand, it could be argued that it would be of great help to the Minister, when deciding whether or not to grant the pipelines, to know whether this House approves the Bill.- If the House were to reject the Bill there would be no question of the Minister having to take a decision, and he might very well he thankful for this excuse to avoid taking one. Therefore I think that we have to "get cracking" on this. The time for decision has come. We need the oil and we need a decision. If we delay now I am not at all sure that the Bill will get through in this Session. There may be delay in the autumn, and at this time next year we may be considering the matter again.

We certainly need more industrial development, and we certainly need to delay less on these inquiries. While I am entirely in favour of the greatest care being taken of environmental considerations, I do hope, having regard to unemployment and to the needs of our economy and the great care that has been given to environmental considerations, that a decision will be taken to-night and that we shall give the Bill a Third Reading.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he expand on his reasons for saying that he considers the site chosen to be the best one? No one will dispute that the employment arguments are important, particularly in the North-West of England, but surely there is plenty of coastline which is already developed industrially and where a site like this could be put and where it would be welcomed?


My Lords. I cannot say that I know everything about the charts for this area but when a company the size of Shell, with the support of the local authorities and the Mersey pilots, says that this is the best position where you can get great ships reasonably close to the shore with safety, and unload them with reasonable security for environmental considerations, then it would not occur to me really to go round the charts searching for a better site. I would say that the experts had made their decision and that it was really better for us, all things considered, to accept that decision.

6.48 p.m.


My Lords, I will be very brief. I am by no means an expert on the matter under discussion, but it is a matter of principle at least a matter of my principle in that in March 1970 I returned to this country from a sojourn in the North-West of Australia, where they have mountains of iron ore. I discussed with the people there their projects for exploiting this bonanza—it seems that they mine 60 per cent. or 70 per cent. of this commodity as against as little as 30 percent. by America, and so it is obviously something of vital importance as a raw material. I asked the noble Lord. Lord Shepherd, at the time what facilities this country was going to make available to enable us to take ships of this size, because I gathered from the people in Australia that they were planning to send their iron ore in palleted form. The answer was most unsatisfactory, and the only reason why I intervene this evening is to emphasise that these bulk carriers are obviously going to be the things of the future. I am supporting this Bill purely because this is the first step in the preparations that I have been urging should be made for these bulk carriers of the future. If we do not get cheap iron ore in palleted form and if we do not get comparatively cheap hulk oil, then it seems to me that some other country is going to get them. That is the only reason why I support the Bill.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a very interesting debate. I made my speech on Second Reading. I made it not because I have any interest in oil or in Amlwch but simply because last year I spent a holiday in North Wales. I do not know when the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was last there, but I must say that the picture he painted or Amlwch did not represent itself to me when I looked at it. I went there and enjoyed it immensely; and I went because, as many people know, I was Parliamentary Secretary for a number of years to my good friend Mr. Cledwyn Hughes, when he was Minister of Agriculture, and of course Anglesey is his constituency.

I suggest, very respectfully, that we should remind ourselves what this proposal is. At the present time the Stan-low refinery currently uses about 10 million tons of crude oil per annum which is supplied from the Tranmere terminal in the Mersey. Expansion is now in hand and is due to come on stream towards the end of 1973, which will raise this to 18 million tons. It will then increase over the next decade, in progressive stages, to 25 and 30 million tons per annum.

Your Lordships might do well to consider the economic contribution that makes to the country when one remembers that this refinery supplies industrial products to the whole of the Lancashire hinterland, as far North as the Scottish Border, and as far South as Sheffield. So it is of considerable economic value to a substantial part of the country. It seems to me that if there is any justification for the scheme, there are two advantages: it will ensure an economic supply of oil to this area; and secondly, as has been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, it is going to minimise to a considerable extent the danger of oil tankers being interfered with. So it has those twin purposes, both important to us.

It was suggested, I think by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that the opponents of the scheme were given little time to prepare their case. I thought it was very well pointed out by the noble Lord, Lora Avebury, that this was the second Bill. The only correction I would make is this: when the Mersey Docks and Harbours Bill was withdrawn and the present Bill was introduced, I was not altogether carried away by Lord Goodman's picture of this great oil "mogul" swallowing up a few poor petitioners. This Bill has been promoted by the Anglesey County Council. Of course there is a considerable Shell interest in it, but the promoters are the Anglesey County Council. And do not let us pretend that there was any fear; the only fear they had was that the Merseyside Docks and Harbour Board might get permission to promote this Bill and the consequent income would be denied to Anglesey County Council. This would be an important part of their income.

I think the other argument has been disposed of: I do not claim to be an expert, but I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, say that single buoy moorings are as safe as any to-day; that we do not know a safer one. So from that point of view I should have thought that everything that was asked of them technically has been met. The question was asked why there should be hurry. "Hurry" is a comparative word. When one thinks how long this Bill has been going through your Lordships' House, I can assure you that those outside who want it passed do not think that we have been dealing with it hurriedly. They think we have been taking too long about it. I thought the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, was quite right to point out that one of the problems that the big firms have to contend with is that the longer the delay, obviously the greater the expenditure which has to be made to provide the machinery required. Because no company is going to spend sums such as are involved in this particular proposal without having a cast iron assurance that they are going to be used.

As I say, I have no personal interest in the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, confessed that he has some interest through some little trust with which he is connected. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said that he thinks he has some shares in the company and that he may well be delaying increased dividends, an action for which he will not be thanked by his fellow shareholders. But I beg him to consider the other people who are involved. It could provide work for 60 men, and it may well be 100, in direct employment. They have no alternative to play off against it; they either get employment through this proposal or they face the possibility of getting no employment at all. I do not think that we should seek to minimise this point by saying that there may only be 100 jobs involved. A hundred jobs in the context of this Bill, and of Amlwch, means that it is 100 employed out of 300 unemployed. I suggest that if anybody could give the Government a proposal which would reduce unemployment to-night from one million to 700,000, they would get an O.B.E. immediately. I do not think that we ought to underestimate what this proposal may mean economically to this community. Neither can I agree that we ought to delay the Bill and not make a decision. If there was any strength in the noble Lord's argument, he should have intervened earlier on, because there is no good reason that I can see for your Lordships taking the trouble to appoint a Committee to examine the Bill, to ask them to sit for eight days doing so, and then to say, "Make no decision to-night; we had better wait until we hear what somebody else is going to do". If that is the view that we are going to take we shall have to consider whether we ought to have appointed the Committee at all.

The last argument of the noble Lord, in moving his Amendment, did not impress me very much, either. I admit that he said that my noble friend Lord Kennet ought to have been here to move the Amendment. I can only suggest that he did not get a very good brief from my noble friend when he undertook the job. The noble Lord said that there was one other opinion that ought to be considered —one foreign expert. I do not think I am misquoting the noble Lord, but he said that he did not understand a word of what the expert had written, yet he highly recommended him. I thought that was rather a doubtful witness to quote in support. The expert turned out to be Professor Odell.


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but I only want to say this: he has totally misquoted me.


My Lords, I thought the noble Lord said that he did not understand a word of what had been submitted, and I thought that the submission was so technical that the noble Lord was making a confession. I am sorry if I misquoted him in this respect.

I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, did very well to explain the procedure to us. May I pick up, with his speech, the point made by my noble friend Lady White? First of all, may I say to my noble friend how grateful I was to her for the tribute that she paid to Mr. Cledwyn Hughes for the work that he had carried out. Indeed, she might have claimed some of the credit, for she was Minister of State at the Welsh Office. It will not be forgotten by my noble friend or by any Member of your Lordships' House that it was Mr. Cledwyn Hughes who designated the coast of Wales a place of scenic beauty, except for this bit of the coast which he felt he could not include. There can be no doubt about how he felt in the matter.

I will not argue with any noble Lord in the House about the procedure; the procedure may be a little distorted, and certainly it is costly. But when my noble friend makes a complaint about the procedure, she is complaining not about Anglesey County Council but about some defect in both Houses of Parliament. If the procedure is wrong it is because the procedure has been laid down by this House and another place. If that is so, then there is nothing that the Anglesey County Council can do about it. They have to operate under the Act of Parliament laid down by us. If your Lordships want to make an issue of this matter it ought not to be made with Anglesey County Council. I am a little surprised that my noble friend should choose to do that on this occasion. I should have thought—and there seems to be great unanimity of opinion—that the procedure ought to be revised; it ought to become less costly and give greater opportunity to people who find a difficulty in raising money to put their case. I would agree with all that; I should not dissent for one second. But I think that to use that as an excuse for delaying this Bill is not a very good argument and I do not see the logic of it.


My Lords, would my noble friend allow me to intervene for one moment? Surely he will appreciate—he has been in Government himself—that unless one takes particular instances and makes some protest on them, Governments pay no attention to general comments on procedure.


My Lords, there are various ways of making protests. When we take a county such as Anglesey, with an unemployed population of 121½ per cent.—among the highest rates in the country—and choose that as an excuse for doing it, then I do not accept that argument. I am agreeing with the principle of the argument, but what I am saying is that this is a bad occasion to choose to bring it to the attention of Government. It may be that the Government will note it as a result of all that has been said in your Lordships' House to-day, but in my view it is not persuasive enough to send me, and I hope most noble Lords, into the Lobby against the Third Reading of this Bill which has been recommended to us on two occasions by a Select Committee appointed by your Lordships.

7.1 p.m.


My Lords, a few technical points have been raised which 1 must answer now since I speak, I hope, by leave of the House. It would have been wrong for me to continue to intervene in other noble Lords' speeches. On the question of the best site—the last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey—if he will look at the National Ports Council's progress Report published in 1969, and available since that time in the Printed Paper Office, he will see, on page 139, a chart. He has only to look at that chart to see where he can find 20 fathoms of water sheltered inshore and close to the Midlands. The question of distance from the shore is something about which the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, was very fair. The problem is to strike a balance between nearness for scrutiny and distance for maximum early warning if one is thinking of pollution. Of course, there is also the need to be as near shore as possible for operational reasons such as shelter and the power of the pumps concerned. But what matters is that the Mersey pilots, having been fully consulted and having originally protested, are now in accord with the site chosen. The noble Lord, Lord Moyne, referred to wave heights of 30 feet. We are well aware that this spectre was raised by two ferry captains at the inquiry. But according to the National Institute of Oceanology, who have perhaps a wider experience, such waves are very unlikely to occur except at rare intervals, and it is certainly the case that if anything serious of that kind arose then a tanker at the mooring would be sailed away to somewhere else.

The noble Baroness, Lady White, spoke about Milford. Without reopening what she said then, I should like to tell her that the director of the Field Studies Council of the Oil Pollution Research Unit in Pembroke has stated that their surveys show that no long-term changes in flora or fauna can be attributed to the oil terminals there and the refineries. My noble friend Lord Moyne also said by implication—and he also mentioned it in the Select Committee, so I take it up again—that possibly construction jobs that may be expected have the effect of increasing unemployment in the end, because people come in to take these jobs, they like Anglesey and then they stay. This story about the "negative multiplier"—and I think it was my noble friend who used that phrase before the Select Committee—is something I have looked into, and so have others; and so far as Anglesey is concerned experience seems to talk in the opposite direction. Between 1961 and 1971 when the Wylfa power station and the R.T.Z. smelter were built, population went up 16 per cent., from 53,000 to 60,000, but jobs went up 25 per cent. The noble Lord, Lord Moyne, also spoke a good deal about Shell's long purse, and I do not think it is necessary for me to spend a great deal of time on that. He referred to Bangor University. I do not know whether he was referring to Professor Crisp, head of the Marine Biology Department at the University College, North Wales. I understand Professor Crisp was speaking, when he did, purely in a personal capacity, and the Faculty have said nothing of that general sort.

A good deal has been said, directly or by implication, about the resistance and opposition to this proposal throughout Anglesey. I am rather surprised that the noble Baroness, Lady White, did not herself refer, as I propose now to do, to the Anglesey Defence Action Group. This is a most resourceful organisation which claims the support of many others. Indeed, it rallied—and I give this to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, because he confessed lie had difficulty in getting on top of his brief beforehand—some 7,000 signatures to a petition against the Bill. These 7,000 signatures included a number of people from as far afield as Mexico, many people outside Anglesey, a large number of school children, and one or two surprising signatures such as those of the Chairman of Esso, Mr. H. Wilson, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Heath.

One does not want to take up the time of your Lordships unduly, but I come now to the nub of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I cannot help feeling that his renowned and respected capacity for disguise has extended both to his visit to Amlwch and to his erudition. He has confused the function of this House with the inquiry procedures. As the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, has just said, Parliament is responsible for these procedures and Parliament can change them. But to pick on a particular case like this, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, said, by way of a protest—in other words, to offer Amlwch as a burnt sacrifice purely to draw the Government's attention to shortcomings in procedure, about which we are all in agreement—surely is not necessary.

The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, also made some play of an unnamed expert, whom it was not difficult between us to identify as Professor Peter Odell. The arguments of the Professor I had already anticipated in my opening speech (they referred to North Sea oil), and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, gave us a useful picture of the geography involved. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, also said, going back to the procedure point, that it may well be that, even when the report from the inspector is received and the Minister has given his decision, it will give us no guidance on the technical aspects of the marine terminal, which is what we are discussing. He admitted that it might give some guidance on economic points. But whether that is so or not, the fact is that these procedures, objectionable and unsatisfactory as they may be, are those made by Parliament; and, as I say, to use this occasion, and include it in the unemployed of Amlwch as the opportunity for a protest, seems to me to be gravely irresponsible, to put it no worse.

My Lords, the Anglesey County Council, the elected authority, want this Bill; the Amlwch U.D.C.—albeit, according to my noble friend Lord Moyne, as a result of the long purse of the Shell Company, for better, for worse—have said they want the Bill now; the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board who sponsored it in the first place want it still; the pilots want it; the unemployed want it. I appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to recognise that he has made, in his own incomparably charming and effective way, a most useful and helpful protest, but I beg him not to press his Amendment to a Division.

7.9 p.m.


My Lords, I gather that I have a right of reply, but I shall be merciful by restricting it to the briefest possible length. First I must say, almost sobbing with emotion, that I must resist that last appeal. There would be absolutely no logic in this debate if my Amendment were not pressed to a Division. Hence, I am afraid, however late the hour, it must be pressed to a Division.

The second thing I want to say is that with great reluctance I am anxious to reject some of the arguments advanced in my favour. I particularly want to reject the suggestion that this occasion is being used to demonstrate the inadequacy of Parliamentary and other procedure, and the unfortunate Shell company are being used as a butt for that purpose. That is not in the remotest fashion the way in which I advanced this case. What I was saying was that the inadequacies of Parliamentary procedure in this instance have left a situation in which a full and thorough investigation has not been undertaken.

It is possible to deal with this matter very briefly indeed. There are two considerations. First, has all the evidence been heard, weighed and considered, so that we may arrive at a conclusion? If it has not, nevertheless should we proceed to a Division and to support this Bill on the basis that the consequences that would ensue if we were to adopt an alternative course are so severe and so grave that we should take the risk of making the decision without knowing any further facts? May I deal with the first point first? The suggestion is that there will be an intolerable delay. The fact of the matter is that we are told that the inspector's report is ready and either has reached the Minister or has not yet quite reached him. It seems to me to be an absurdity that the Minister has colleagues within earshot of my observations, and he will know that it is being urged upon him by this House that serious considerations of unemployment (about which I shall have a word to say in a moment) rest on this decision. Is it not therefore the fact that a responsible Minister will immediately call for the papers, urge the inspector to make greater expedition, and reach a decision on this matter within seven days? This is not a matter where, if the Minister takes the papers home and works day and night, there are such crucial and economic issues that have to be borne in mind that there will be any difficulty at all in his assessing the situation in the relevant time. That is not an argument that to me is very impressive.

Nor—and I venture to say this with the utmost respect—should the issue of unemployment have been raised in the fashion in which it has been raised in this debate. I venture to think that there is no Member of this House who cares more about unemployment than any other Member; we are all desperately concerned about it. But if we are to accept the logic of this argument, why have planning considerations at all? If it is a question purely of unemployment and purely of economic considerations, and they are so compulsive, then it is a great nonsense that we should have gone through this procedure for two years to consider all the complicated issues that are part of the safeguards that exist in this country to ensure that we preserve amenities.

This debate has taken a rather lighthearted course. I do not say that I regret it. We have ranged over a number of fields. We were told, for instance, how well Shell supported conservation and wild life. I may say that they have been most ungratefully rewarded by the appearance of the Wildlife Fund among the objectors to the Bill, but I hope that will not in the least affect the extent of their contribution. Perhaps they may even increase their contribution. But none of this has any relevance. The apotheosis of big business was reached in one speech from one Bench—I will not even designate the speaker—who said it was quite wrong for us to have any views about where the installations should be installed. If Shell had once arrived at a conclusion, who were we to say otherwise?—because obviously they know better than any of us.

I may venture to say this: I do not think that I know better than Shell about where installations should be placed. I do not think that Shell are anything but a great and responsible company, and I said that at the outset. However, it is clear that they have a point of view; they have interests to serve that may necessarily be in conflict with other people's interests in relation to conservation, the preservation of beautiful spots and the preservation of amenities, and it is for us to weigh the two cases. There is nothing wrong in their advancing their case with great vehemence and force, but equally there is nothing wrong in our advancing the contrary case with equal vehemence and force.

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether this matter has been the subject of consideration of all the relevant interests? The course of this debate has conclusively established the contrary proposition, because one member of the Committee says, "Yes, we did not in fact hear a certain amount of evidence". That was the speech that came from the Chairman of the Committee, and he obviously discharged his duties most conscientiously, just as the Committee discharged their duties most conscientiously. They bring in a report based on the evidence; but he said to us, rather confidentially, as though giving us, as it were, a metaphorical wink, "There was some other evidence, but frankly I advise you not to worry about it. I do not know what it was. I did not hear it, but I am quite convinced that it could not have much relevance to this issue."

Another member of the Committee said, "Yes, there was other evidence and I think it was very germane to this matter and I do not think you ought to proceed to adjudicate on this matter without hearing it". Now that evidence has been heard by the planning inquiry, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, delivered a long, fascinating, well-informed and technical speech replying to all that evidence, he being the only person in this House who knew what it was. There was not a single Member of the House who had any notion of what it was that he was replying to. He was replying to evidence given to the planning inquiry, and unknown to us.

My Lords, I do not want to keep you any longer at this moment. I would only say that in relation to the considerations of unemployment we earnestly hope that employment will be made available on

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly; Bill read 3ª.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

all fronts and that the Government will exercise themselves as they should to remedy that matter. But unemployment should not be used as a lever in a debate of this kind. In my opinion it is faintly improper that we should be told by speaker after speaker that all the considerations that weigh in planning matters, all the considerations in deciding whether to preserve the coast line, whether to preserve the beauties of the countryside, must be overridden because we shall find 60 jobs. Of course 60 jobs are crucial, but I doubt very much whether, if you took a plebiscite among the unemployed, and asked them whether they wanted these amenities of the countryside to be destroyed so that a consideration of this kind might be introduced, you would have very much in the way of a majority.

7.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 24: Not-Contents, 46.

Anglesey, M. Glasgow, E. Raglan, L.
Boothby, L. Goodman, L. [Teller.] Somers, L.
Burntwood, L. Inglewood, L. Vernon, L.
Chalfont, L. Kinnoull, E. White, Bs.
Colville of Culross, V. Molson, L. Wise, L.
Conesford, L. Monson, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Crawshaw, L. Moyne, L. [Teller.] Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.
Dundee, E. O'Hagan, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Milner of Leeds, L.
Arwyn, L. Garnsworthy, L. Milverton, L.
Avebury, L. Greenway, L. Morrison, L.
Bacon, Bs. Grimston of Westbury, L. Northchurch, Bs.
Balerno, L. Hankey, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Rankeillour, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Headfort, M. Royle, L.
Beswick, L. Hood, V. Selsdon, L.
Blyton, L. Hoy, L. [Teller.] Shackleton, L.
Brockway, L. Janner, L. Strabolgi, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Killearn, L. Strathclyde, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Lauderdale, E. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Carnock, L. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Terrington, L.
Champion, L. Wheatley, L.
Craigmyle, L. Margadale, L. Wolverton, L.
Essex, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Earl of Lauderdale.)

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.