HC Deb 24 July 1963 vol 681 cc185-7W
97. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty why Portsmouth Harbour was closed to shipping on the morning of Monday, 8th July.

Mr. Hay

Portsmouth Harbour was closed to shipping under powers conferred on the Queen's Harbour Master by the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order, 1960, from 7.34 to 8.30 a.m. in the morning of Monday, 8th July, to allow the exit from harbour (at 8.0 a.m.) of the Dutch cruiser "De Ruyter". The order,inter alia, permits the temporary closure of the navigation channel to allow the safe entrance or exits of large units.

98. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that the closing of Portsmouth Harbour on the morning of Monday 8th July resulted in the Isle of Wight Ferry missing the fast train to London thereby causing considerable inconvenience to many of the travelling public; and if he will instruct the Naval Authorities at Portsmouth to have regard to scheduled ferry services in the future, and whenever possible to give notice of their intentions to close the harbour to British Railways Maritime Section.

Mr. Hay

British Railways are informed daily at 4 p.m. of the next day's naval movements, including whether the harbour channel will be closed at any time. When a closure is indicated British Railways get in touch with the Dockyard and, provided the presence of the ferry and of a large warship do not coincide at the harbour entrance, the ferry is none-the-less allowed to proceed.

On the morning in question the ferry arrived at the harbour entrance at the same time as the Dutch cruiser "De Ruyter", and, as a result, had to wait for the warship to get clear of the harbour channel.

I regret any inconvenience suffered by ferry passengers. The channel is about two miles long and so governed by the tides that the entrances or exits of ships of cruiser size and above are limited to two periods of half an hour each day.