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asked the Minister of Technology (1) what representations he has received about the effects on the boat-building industry in Scotland of the present proposals in the Transport Bill;
(2) what action he will take to mitigate the effects of the Transport Bill, in particular the abnormal loads charge, on the shipbuilding industry.
asked the Minister of Technology (1) what representations he has received about the effects on the English and Welsh boat-building industry of the present proposals in the Transport Bill in relation to the industry's export efforts;
(2) what representations he has received about the effects on the boat show of the present proposals in the Transport Bill.
Representations have been received from the Ship and Boat Builders National Federation, National Boat Shows Limited, the National Association of Marine Enginebuilders and three firms of boat builders in England. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, is aware of these representations. The effect of the provisions of the Transport Bill relating to the carriage by road of abnormal loads will no doubt be discussed when they are considered in Committee.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the abnormal loads tax will in some cases increase the cost of journeys by 100 per cent. or more on items such as propellers and marine engines? What is the Minister doing to protect the shipbuilding industry from the doctrinaire follies of the Minister of Transport?
We have acted, as our duty prescribes, as the sponsoring Ministry for this industry and have relayed its complaints to the Ministry of Transport. It is for the Ministry of Transport to decide upon transport policy. However, I think the hon. Gentleman will find that many of the estimates of increased costs have been grossly exaggerated largely because of a misunderstanding of the provisions of a Schedule to the Bill.
Will the hon. Gentleman look again particularly at the export question, because an increasing number of boat-building firms using modern methods of construction are remote from sea and water? Firms using fibre-glass methods will have to send their large vehicles to the export ports by land. Can this be looked into again?
It is perfectly true that many boat builders are in this position, but many boats transported by road would attract no charges at all and most others would attract charges only in respect of their width.
With regard to the abnormal loads charged, is my hon. Friend aware that the Minister of Transport made abundantly clear on Second Reading and during the Committee stage of the Bill that this matter is again being examined? Is he further aware that many misleading and untrue statements are being propagated by hon. Members opposite throughout the country quite without foundation?