HL Deb 27 July 1979 vol 401 cc2161-3

11.35 a.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That this Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Aberdare.)


My Lords, I do not want to detain your Lordships for any length of time, but your Lordships may recollect that about three or four years ago we had before us a Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill. It was a Private Bill brought by the British Docks Board in order to take over the Felixstowe Docks. The Bill received a Second Reading and went through a Committee stage in this House, but your Lordships may recollect that it was rejected on Third Reading. Therefore the Bill lapsed and the purchase of the Felixstowe Dock by European Ferries then took place.

I do not want to go back over that issue: it is finished and I fully accept it. After the failure of the Bill to pass I met Mr. Wickenden, who is the chairman of European Ferries, and pointed out to him at the time that I would keep a very close eye on the functioning of the Felixstowe Dock, because European Ferries made very definite promises to the committee of your Lordships' House which investigated the Bill and assured us that there would be proper development of the Felixstowe Dock.

So far as I can find out, they have kept their promise and I do not in the least wish to say that there has been any respect, to my knowledge, in which they have failed. I think that the Felixstowe Dock has progressed satisfactorily. I can fully understand the need for this Bill, which would give the Felixstowe Dock the right to further development which, as is perfectly evident to anyone who has visited the dock, is badly needed. Excellent work was done by the person who took it over, Mr. Parker, but he ran short of capital and that was precisely why the dock was sold.

However, I think it is important that when we consider a Bill like this we should be quite clear what is happening. Consequently, there are a few matters about which I should like to ask the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. One is the question of the extent of the works which are proposed. There is at the end of the Bill a schedule which states it; but of course it is not easy, simply by reading the words of a schedule, to see exactly what the plans are for the works. I would hope that the plans will be available to your Lordships' House so that they can be looked at carefully and so that we can be quite clear as to what is being done. I am not saying anything is wrong: I am merely saying that when we pass a Bill we ought to know what we are passing.

The other point about which I should like to ask the noble Lord concerns the powers of a planning authority after this Bill has been passed, because it would appear that the Bill gives full authority to the docks to carry out any feature that they require—anything they want—if they have deposited a plan. I should like to know whether this means that the power of the planning authority is overridden if this Bill becomes an Act.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for making a few remarks on the Second Reading of this Bill. Of course, in passing a Private Bill at a Second Reading your Lordships are not endorsing what is in the Bill; you are merely agreeing that it should go to the Unopposed Bill Committee. I am in no sense promoting the Bill, and therefore I am unable to answer the detailed questions that the noble Lord has put. I can assure him that these matters will be looked at by the Unopposed Bill Committee, and I will see that his remarks are drawn to the attention of that committee. I will personally satisfy him that we have taken into account all that he has mentioned. I do not think that this Bill is likely to cause any of the controversy that the last Bill, to which he drew attention, did, because it has already passed through another place and is unopposed in this House.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to an Unopposed Bill Committee.

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