Municipal Docks

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1966.

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3.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Cooke Mr Robert Cooke , Bristol West

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prevent the nationalisation of municipal dock undertakings. Bristol, part of which I have the honour to represent, has been a thriving port since the days of the Romans and the city and county——

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would wait a moment, until hon. Members have left the Chamber quietly.

Photo of Mr Robert Cooke Mr Robert Cooke , Bristol West

As I was saying, Bristol gained its first charter from Edward III. The city docks and their extensions are the result of civic enterprise over the centuries. Bristol Docks belong to the citizens of Bristol, and the Bill which I ask leave to introduce would ensure that this public ownership remains undisturbed. It would protect all municipal dock undertakings from Government intervention and enable municipal docks to develop along the lines suggested by the National Ports Council.

The House will recall that it reported in favour of a third major port at Port-bury, near Bristol, a 1,000 acre site with unrivalled communications to all parts of the United Kingdom. My Bill would enable public enterprise to proceed with this adventurous scheme. Statistics are now produced as a major obstacle to the success of Portbury. I would remind the House that statistics were against John and Sebastian Cabot when they sailed from Bristol in a small ship with 18 men in the year 1497 to discover the New World. Statistics proved that Drake could not possibly defeat the Armada and in his day Lord Nelson had, on occasion, to disregard statistics. Dunkirk was statistically impossible.

My Bill would enable the citizens of Bristol, and other municipalities with the same guts and determination, to make their contribution to our much-needed industrial revival. Municipal docks are a proved success; even Antwerp and Rotterdam are so owned.

In this time of depression we must enable those on whom our future depends to prepare for the expansion of trade that Britain must have if she is to survive. The Government have long favoured the public ownership of all that is important in modern life. My Bill will ensure that nothing disturbs the fine record of public ownership of the Port of Bristol. It would enable it and others like it to bring immeasurable benefits to Britain's economy.

3.43 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Ogden Mr Eric Ogden , Liverpool, West Derby

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) has chosen a simple and straightforward way to make his point. He has brought to his aid Lord Nelson and the Armada, but I do not think that this is a reason why his Motion should go through quite so simply as he was hoping that it would. It is not within the terms of the normal Ten-Minute Rule; it is limiting legislation and it is a direct attack on many of the things that we on this side of the House believe in.

The hon. Gentleman has not argued in detail the case for his Motion and I believe that he would agree that this is too large a subject to be argued in the space of 10 minutes. For these and other reasons, upon which we on this side of the House agree, I would suggest that we oppose the Motion.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nominations of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business), and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Robert Cooke, Mr. Dean, and Mr. Webster.