First Schedule. — (Milford Haven Conservancy Board.)

Orders of the Day — Milford Haven Conservancy Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon 12:00 am, 11th December 1957

I beg to move, in page 24, line 8, to leave out "sixteen" and to insert "seventeen".

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I think that it would be convenient if this Amendment and the following six were considered together.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

It would be quite convenient, Sir Charles.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

Most of these Amendments are consequential on the Amendment, in page 24, line 21, leave out paragraph (f) and insert: (f) one by the National Parks Commission;(g) one by the Minister after consultation with such persons or bodies appearing to him to be representative of organised labour in Wales as he may consider appropriate;(h) three by the county council of Pembroke. The purpose of the Amendment is to alter the constitution of the Board, first, by adding a representative of the National Parks Commission; secondly, by providing that the representative of organised labour will be appointed by the Minister and not by the Pembroke County Council; and, thirdly, by paragraph (h), reducing the number of members appointed by the county council by providing that the representative of organised labour should be appointed by the Minister and not by the county council.

The position, therefore, is that we should have a representative of the National Parks Commission on the Board and one trade unionist appointed by the Minister. As I understand it, the effect of the Amendment put down by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, is that there should be two representatives of organised labour, and the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) also wishes to add a member of the "South Wales River Board." I am afraid that she has not got the name quite right. It is the South West Wales River Board—

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

Perhaps another misprint.

Perhaps I may be allowed to deal with other points before hon. Members opposite put their case for their Amendments. Paragraph (f) of my right hon. Friend's Amendment in page 24, line 21, deals with the representation of the National Parks Commission, and it is designed to meet the point made by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the safeguarding of amenities under the Bill. The National Parks Commission has, in fact, asked to have a representative on the Board. That is why I am moving this Amendment, although I think that it will be agreed that there are already strong safeguards in the Bill for amenities as a whole, and that this will make them even stronger. There is certainly no great practical difficulty about doing that.

I deal next with paragraph (g)—the appointment of a member …by the Minister after consultation with such persons or bodies appearing to him to be representative of organised labour in Wales as he may consider appropriate;". I do not think that there will now be any difficulty in the minds of the Committee about the method of making that appointment, in view of the consideration that we have given to what was suggested to us in the Second Reading debate. The requirement that the Minister should consult "persons or bodies" representative of labour in Wales should allay any fears that the consideration of who is to be appointed would be confined to London. The effect of that, of course, as hon. Members will understand, will be to reduce the representation of the county council on the Board from four members to three, but I do not think that that really makes any difference, because the original fourth member was to have been a trade unionist in any case.

There are one or two points that I should like to make on the suggestion that there should be not one but two representatives of organised labour. Perhaps I might deal with that, and reply later to any observations that are made about it. I think that this is asking rather too much because it would be a misconception of the rôle and functions of the Conservancy Board to suggest that it is to do anything more than look after the navigation of the Haven.

It will not provide docks or quays, or deal with the handling of ships or the loading or unloading of cargoes. It will not employ any dock labour or, indeed, very much labour of any kind. Its staff will be mainly administrative, and the only industrial employees will be a number of maintenance men and staff to do repair work to moorings and small craft. I am afraid that I have to reject that suggestion. I thought that the Committee would be satisfied that the changed method of appointing a representative of organised labour would be sufficient.

These Amendments are, perhaps, rather complicated, but I come now to that standing in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen, relating to the South West Wales River Board. I hope that she will be satisfied now—in view of my acceptance of her first Amendment dealing with salmon, which, I think, was one of the anxieties of the River Board itself—that it will not be really necessary to have on the Conservancy Board a member of the River Board in addition to the representation we already have from the National Parks Commission and other persons concerned with amenities. Salmon are very important, I have no doubt, but we have also got two fishery representatives on the Board as it is, as the hon. Lady will see if she looks at the Schedule—

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

Yes, deep sea, as the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) says, but we have got two fishery members and I should have thought that that was sufficient.

There may be other points which hon. Members will wish to raise when dealing with their Amendments, so perhaps I can leave it until they do so.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

It would be ungenerous of me if I did not pay tribute to the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for the way in which they have attempted to meet us in these Amendments. They have gone a long way to meet us and I am sure that my hon. Friends and I are grateful for this approach.

As the Committee will remember, the original proposition was that the Bill would provide for a chairman and 16 others. What the Minister now proposes is that there shall be a chairman and 17 members of the Board. He has met us handsomely with regard to the amenities in the special appointment of a member of the National Parks Commission; be has met us completely on the method of appointing the trade union representative, but he has reduced the county council representation to three. It was originally four, one of whom was to be the trade union representative.

What we have contended in our Amendments—and as we are discussing them all together it would be as well to have the general discussion now—is that the Pembroke County Council, which is the authority most involved, should still retain four members on the Board, and we have further suggested that the trade union representation should be increased to two. My hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) was very anxious about the River Board representation, and I think that by and large she is very pleased with the compromise that has been put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary in accepting her first Amendment.

We are, therefore, now in this position, that we have a Conservancy Board which has nine representatives representing private interests. We have only one, under the Minister's proposition, representing the trade unions. We have only three representing the public interest. We think that that proportion is not correct, and that the public interest at least ought to have four representatives. If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to say that he will give the public representation an increased proportion on the Board, one can see that there will not be much case for suggesting that the trade union representation should be increased.

What we want on this Board is a much better balance between the private and public interests, but as the hon. Gentleman has come so far to meet us on the points which we made on Second Reading, we would ask him to consider these representations now and we suggest that between now and a further stage of the Bill, perhaps in another place, he should meet some of the points that we are putting particularly with regard to this balance of private interest as against public interest, and give either to the public interest or to the trade union interest a slightly improved representation to make up for the unbalance that exists between the private and public interests.

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I will certainly consider it again, but I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. We have tried very hard to meet the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends and we have had further consultations. I think this seems to be about the right balance, bearing in mind, as I think the right hon. Gentleman concedes, that it is the private interest that is putting up all the money. I will certainly look at it again without giving any undertaking.

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

This is an occasion when, in the view of the shipping industry, first thoughts are best. I am sorry that it looks as if the Schedule as it stands will be amended. It should not be amended in any respect. The right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) spoke about proportional representation. I would have thought that the most satisfactory arrangement for the composition of the Board would be one which would ensure that trading interests and non-trading interests would be equally represented. As the Schedule stands, that equality is achieved if it is agreed, as I think it must be, that the trading interest consists of those providing the facilities at the Haven and of those making use of the facilities.

The Schedule in its present form bestows direct representation on the Board to trading interests in this way: to trawlers, one; to waterside frontagers, four; to dues payers, three. That is a total of eight, and is precisely half the number which would make up the Board under a chairman. The effect of these proposed Amendments—and I do not think that there are any exceptions—would be to upset the balance of the interest on the Board by increasing the preponderance of the non-trading interests. I think that that is a pity, and so far during the debate on this Schedule I have found no justification for making this change.

Dealing briefly with one or two of the Amendments on the Notice Paper, I cannot see the need for a representative on the Board of the National Parks Commission. Clause 1 of the Bill defines the functions of the Board, which are to maintain, improve, portect and regularise the navigation of Milford Haven. In other words, the responsibility of the Board is limited entirely to the waters and it will have no control whatsoever over industrial development on land. I cannot see why, in spite of the remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary or other hon. Members of the Committee, the National Parks Commission should be represented on a Board which is concerned only with navigational facilities.

Turning to another Amendment, I hope I understood the Minister correctly when he said that he was not prepared to accept the Amendment which stands in the name of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). This Amendment seeks to give representation on the Conservancy Board to the South West Wales River Board. The function of the South West Wales River Board, as with others, is land drainage. So far as I know, it has nothing to do with navigational facilities. I think, therefore, that the intention of that Amendment is entirely misguided.

Regarding the proposal to increase trade union representation from one to two, it is obviously correct that organised labour should be represented on the Board. However, other interests, such as frontagers and various classes of shipping, are each given one representative. To my mind, trade union representation should be limited in the same way.

For these reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendments and that he will also resist other Amendments to the Schedule, which, I trust, he will ask the Committee to approve as it stands.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Barkston Ash (Sir L. Ropner), speaking for the shipping interests, should have disturbed the tranquillity of the waters of Milford Haven, but his points are easily met.

First, on the question of the National Parks Commission, what happens on the water governs to a great extent what happens on the land. If the harbour authorities say to the planning authority, "This, we think, is a suitable water frontage for this user", then the planning authority obviously has to take cognisance of them in saying what can be done to provide facilities on the land.

It is better to get this dispute resolved, as the Parliamentary Secretary said so rightly in answering the point I raised earlier in the debate, by having an amicable understanding with the National Parks Commission about what is going on. The sole purpose of the suggestion that we should have the National Parks Commission represented on the Conservancy Board is to facilitate the general working of the area. If the hon. and gallant Baronet reflects, I am sure he will realise that it is only helping the shipping interests in their best utilisation of the Haven.

As to the second point about the South West Wales River Board, I do not altogether like his remark about it being responsible only for land drainage. I think we could take it a bit wider, and if we did so, we would find that the shipping interests in the country are much indebted to the wisdom of the land drainage people, if they are so described, by their co-operation in other rivers in the country. Again, all that we are seeking here is an amicable understanding, to make it easier for the flow of water into the Haven and so that the fresh water fisheries—which, after all, are an important industry of the area—should not in any way come into conflict with the shipping interests.

The third point is the question of the numbers of trade unionists. I would have thought that our suggestion was a reasonable one. There are four representatives of the users, of the commercial interests of the different companies. It would have been reasonable for us to have said that, therefore, there should be four trades unionists. They are just as important, and, again, if the hon. and gallant Baronet reflects, he will realise that it is important for the shipping interests to work in harmony with the trades unions. We have been moderate, but it could be looked at again on the Report stage if the hon. and gallant Baronet still feels that the number should be four, because, if he thinks that the users should be so widely represented, then the balance is wrong.

I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. I pay tribute to the conciliatory way in which the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister have met our suggestions in this debate, but I support the suggestions of my right hon. Friend.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 24, line 9, leave out "nine" and insert "ten".

In line 21, leave out paragraph (f) and insert: (f) one by the National Parks Commission;(g) one by the Minister after consultation with such persons or bodies appearing to him to be representative of organised labour in Wales as he may consider appropriate;(h) three by the county council of Pembroke—[Mr. Neave.]

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

I beg to move, in page 24, line 32, to leave out the second "the."

This is a drafting Amendment to correct the name of "Esso Petroleum Company Limited." I understand that it is not prefixed by "the."

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 25, line 12, leave out "seventeen" and insert "eighteen."—[Mr. Neale.]

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

I beg to move, in page 27, line 15, to leave out from "of" to "tonnage" in line 17, and to insert: whose arrival in the haven last before those facilities were so used by them dues have been paid to the Board under subsection (1) of section ten of this Act and the aggregate of the. If it is convenient, Sir Gordon, might we consider at the same time the next four Amendments, for they are consequential?

Photo of Mr Gordon Touche Mr Gordon Touche , Dorking

If it is for the convenience of the Committee, the five Amendments may be considered together.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

The purpose of the Amendments is to remove any doubt as to the method of calculating the number of votes—the relevant passage is paragraph 18 of the Schedule—to which the waterside frontagers—that is, the people providing facilities, such as Esso, B.P., and the Milford Dock Company who have private Acts—are to be entitled for elections to the board. As the paragraph is at present drafted, the votes are to be: …determined by reference to the aggregate tonnage aforesaid… That is, the tonnage on which dues are paid in respect of vessels using the waterside facilities.

Under Clause 10 and the Third Schedule, dues are charged both when a vessel enters the Haven and when she leaves the Haven. For the purpose of assessing the votes of waterside frontagers, however, we wish the tonnage to be reckoned once only in respect of each visit by a vessel to any individual waterside facility.

The proposed Amendment would remove any doubt which might have arisen as a result of the original drafting of paragraph 18 which might be construed as meaning that the tonnage of each vessel calling at any dock within the Haven should be counted twice for voting purposes; that is to say, once on entering the Haven and once on departing, because dues are paid on both occasions. It is the first Amendment which gives effect to the change, and the remaining Amendments are consequential. Hon. Members will find the system set out in paragraph 18, and it is to simplify the meaning of the paragraph that I move the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

How far does the method of electing members to the Board conform with the present practice where other port authorities have been established? What is the position in London? Does this method apply there? Is there anything novel about the method which is proposed? If we could have some indication whether this is the recognised method of appointing representatives of private interests, it would help us with the Amendment.

Mr. Noave:

As I understand, it is quite according to precedent. This practice is followed by a number of other harbour boards and dock authorities. I can give the right hon. Gentleman details, but I do not think that he will want them now I can assure him that we have followed the precedents.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 27, line 18, leave out "was" and insert "is".

In line 20, leave out "tonnage".

In page 28, line 29, leave out from "tonnage" to end of line 34 and insert: attributed to him for the purposes of paragraph 18 of this Schedule.

In line 37, leave out from "amount" to end of line 39 and insert: attributed to him for the purposes of the last foregoing paragraph."—[Mr. Neave.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to. Second Schedule agreed to.