§ Mr. Peter Rees
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made over BFS access to Belgian ports; and what are his conclusions about his possible use of section 14 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1974.
§ Mr. Ridley
I met the Belgian Minister of Communications together with representatives of the other 117W Belgian parties concerned in Brussels immediately before Easter to seek to resolve this question. This proved to be a constructive meeting at which a number of possibilities for an early BFS service to Belgium were discussed. BFS is free to start a service to the inner port of Zeebrugge immediately, and can start a service to the outer port as soon as new facilities have been completed. It was agreed that technical discussions between the commercial parties concerned were urgently required; and the Belgian Minister undertook to see how quickly BFS's requirements can be met. Both the Belgian Minister and I are confident that an acceptable solution can be found.
In these circumstances, I have concluded that it would not be appropriate to propose action under Section 14 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1974.