Businesses Liable to Vesting

Part of Clause 34 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Albert Murray Mr Albert Murray , Gravesend 12:00 am, 29th April 1970

I do not disagree with the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) that the Opposition Amendments were well thought out. However, it is their intention that concerns the Government, not just the question whether they were well thought out.

The effect of the Amendment would be that only businesses concerned with the management of a cargo wharf or the loading and unloading of cargo vessels, by persons other than the owners of the vessels and their subsidiaries, would be subject to takeover. Moreover, even such loading and unloading would be excepted if it was concerned only with a single commodity involving some specialised or unusual activity in the unloading process.

The hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry) made special reference to warehousing. All the activities listed in the Clause as it stands are part of the business of running the common main user services. It would be impossible for the authority to become the principal provider of such services in accordance with the policy underlying Part II unless it had the powers of compulsory acquisition provided by the Clause as it stands. The rights of objection in Clause 35 will allow scope for considering particular cases.

It may well be that a warehouse in an N.P.A. harbour would be part of an integrated chain of warehouses, and there would in that case, be rights of objection. In other words, if the warehouse were part of a chain, some of them being inland, there would be the right of objection under Clause 35. There was also mention made of the shipping companies carrying out either themselves or through subsidiaries the loading and unloading of their own ships. Again, if there are objections to the activities of the N.P.A. there are the rights of objection under Clause 35.

A point was made about specialist or unusual commodities, but this is a very wide definition and it certainly would not be acceptable.

For the reasons which I have given, I hope that the House will reject the Amendment.