When the debate was adjourned a week ago I had just arrived at
the question of cleanliness and spillages which had been discussed a good deal concerning the Bill. The debate was adjourned at the point where I had information upon which the Special Committee of another place recommended the Bill to go forward, namely, when it said that
evidence was given by the promoters that in 1970 the Shell Company handled 65 million tons of oil, involving 1,000 ships, through 16 single buoy moorings around the world with two recorded incidents of spillage.
The Further Special Report which the House of Lords had to issue when it found that Shell had not been telling the truth, with regard to Durban alone, said:
The worst offender has been the s.b.m. at Durban which, since it began operations in September, 1970, has had 26 spillages totalling 57 tons.
Therefore, having said there were only two incidents around the world, Shell had to admit there were 26 at Durban alone. This was later increased, as we shall see.
To my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), who will be adducing evidence regarding Durban, I should say that Durban is not the only single buoy mooring upon which unsatisfactory evidence is available. Another is the Kawasaki terminal in Japan. Looking at the evidence of Captain Overschie, to whom we referred a week ago, regarding the Kawasaki terminal, one sees that he was asked:
Q. If you then go to the Kawasaki table on the next page and on the following page, that terminal has been in operation for three years, has it not? … A. Yes, 1969.
Q. And there have been, I make it, some 30 spillages during that time? A. Yes.
Q. Of those six were due to human error and 24 to mechanical failure of some kind or another, both of which events happened in spite of Shell taking all care that their employees did not allow the spillage to occur, in spite of the fact that they took all care to see that plant or machinery was properly maintained, and in spite of the fact that they used all care to see that it was properly designed. Is that right? A. Yes, indeed.
So it was admitted that at Kawasaki alone there were 30 spillages.
Let us look at Durban of which so much has been made. I adduce only the facts. I do not adduce any comment on those facts from anybody else. Captain Overschie was questioned again on day three.
Then if you go on until you come to the Durban figures there have been recorded there 27 incidents of spillage. Is that right? That terminal has been in operation for just over a year. Is that right? A. That is correct—a year and a half now.
Let us look again at another question:
I am putting to you that whereas Captain Macdonald said that these faults"—
the faults in the Durban mooring—
had been eliminated, in fact at Durban they have not been eliminated, have they? Can you find the Durban chart? The last entry is: '9th April, 1972, No. 2 hose section of south underwater hose string.' Is that not right? A. Yes.
Captain Overschie admitted spillages at Durban. So we have more information about Durban, but let us have still more information about Durban. Captain Overschie was asked:
"Q. Do you know that on 8th March of this year at Durban there was another incident of spillage? A. If it is not recorded here then I am not aware of it.
Q. No, it is not recorded there. Once again I ask permission to put in a Press report of a statement made by Mr. Wilson, manager of the SBM at Durban.
There is then an extremely circumstantial account extending over half a page with which I shall not weary the House about yet another spillage at Durban which was not recorded in Shell's official records.
Captain Overschie was asked:
"Q. That incident is not mentioned in these records? A. I do not know.
Q. That stimulates one to ask how many more spillages there have been which have not found their way into the records. Is it not a fair question? A. I can only say that the records as they have been tabulated or presented have been taken from the official records of the operating companies.
Q. One wonders how carefully the records have been kept and whether Shell has ever kept any proper records of oil spillages? A. I can only speak for my company. I keep very careful records in respect of every incident and a complete account is given of what has happened.
Despite these records and this complete account, the fact is that incidents or spillage not recorded by Shell kept on coming to light.
What is more, another was admitted by counsel for the Bill on day four when he said:
The Shell Company in London telexed South Africa for a further return of incidents involving any spillage in 1972, and the telex in reply brought to light another incident of spillage, of which I make a free gift to my friend on 6th March of a similar kind involving less than 24 gallons, and that too will be added by Amendment to the schedule.
That was another one not admitted by Shell.
There is yet another. Right at the end of the proceedings on day six, there was an admission by Shell of a yet further spillage. Throughout we see that Shell, having said first of all that there were only two spillages around the world, was forced to admit others which had not been brought to light due to its total lack of frankness—if one can say that that is all it is.
The argument has been well put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) in a letter which he has sent hon. Members. I
do not blame him for not wanting to waste a stamp on sending one to me but nevertheless, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. In this letter, my right hon. Friend says that, despite all these spillages,
the proposed single buoy mooring would greatly reduce the risk of pollution to the coastline of North Wales and Liverpool Bay.
The argument is based on the fact that the ships at present taking the oil to Tranmere, being super-tankers, are too large to go up the Mersey, so they have to unload part of the oil on to other tankers in a lightening operation. It is alleged that these lightening operations are a far greater danger than the spillages which might come from a single buoy mooring and that on these grounds alone it is worth having the latter.
But let us consider the evidence on this. The bare fact is that in 296 lightening operations there have been only two spillages In that same period, there were 150 spillages at single buoy moorings and at Durban, in one year to October, 1971, when 91 ships unloaded, there were 22 spillages.
Mr. Thomas, the Anglesey pollution officer, admitted that there was only one spillage during lightening operations off Anglesey and no pollution. So he has admitted that the operations which worry the advocates of the Bill so much have caused hardly any spillages and no pollution.
Mr. Thomas was asked:
So, in the lightening operations which are occurring today off your shores, there has been only one incident of spillage and no incident of pollution?
There has been no instance of pollution so far.
Will my hon. Friend take the point that Shell Oil was sufficiently frank to volunteer information to the Select Committtee in another place which resulted in that Committee being reconvened? Will he also deal with the point that it has never been disputed that there were spillages? What has been stated clearly is that none of the oil from the single busy mooring at Durban reached the beaches there.
As to the first point, Shell had to spill the beans because it was rumbled. I shall be coming to the second point later. Although I do not intend to prolong my remarks I will deal with this matter, perhaps not to my right hon. Friend's satisfaction but, I hope, to that of other hon. Gentlemen.
My right hon. Friend talks about pollution at Durban and we also hear about the danger of pollution at Amlwch and the danger not only of spillages but of other things. We shall come to the danger of spillages, because here we should consider what was said on Third Reading in another place on 1st February by Lord Moyne. He said:
no witness was able to satisfy me that at this place, where townsmen come on holiday in search of peace and quiet, there would not be a noise from pumping all night long, which it was admitted would be necessary, or that there would not be some aroma of oil."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 1st February, 1972; Vol. 327, c. 738.]
So noise and smell are as much pollution as spillage.
Lord Moyne made that statement in February. In all my research on this—I have done a great deal—I have so far found no denial of what he said about noise and smell.
But another was made on Second Reading in this House by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane), who is now Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. I have advised him that I would mention him. He said that the tank farm which will include up to 15 tanks each twice the size of Conway Castle,
will be very carefully landscaped."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 154.]
Let us consider this claim. Our consideration brings us to evidence quoted on day six from the Countryside Commission.
Incidentally, as reported at col. 200 of my speech last week, I attributed something to the Countryside Commission which should have been attributed to the inspector from the Department of the Environment. I apologise for misleading the House, but I would still regard the evidence on that as valid.
Talking about the tank farm which the hon. Member for Cambridge said could be concealed by landscaping, the Countryside Commission said:
The tank farm could be acceptable in the landscape if it were screened at vital points by sufficiently high banks planted with shrubs such as willow.
But one cannot conceal with shrubs and willows tanks twice the size of Conway Castle.
One finds the true situation on page 58, among the evidence on day six, when counsel against the Bill said:
But you know, that was all gone into at the inquiry and the expert opinion of Mr. Graham, the architect, was that you could not deal with installations of this character like that. You would have to screen the view-points … and not the tanks.
So Anglesey's amenities are saved not by screening the enormous tanks but by destroying the view by planting trees, after which it can be said that the tank farm is no longer an eyesore. Therefore, as it was put to the Committee, it is clear that what the Countryside Commission was thinking about in regard to artificial tanks and the planting of willows was completely up the creek.
So much for landscaping and preventing these installations from becoming an eyesore. My right hon. Friend said earlier—I do not quarrel with him because I do not wish to make points which are not absolutely proven—that there was no proof of pollution at Durban from the undoubted spillages which took place. But what will happen at Anglesey? On this I should like to adduce two pieces of evidence.
The first is from day five, when Dr. E. Jones, a lecturer in marine biology at the University College of North Wales and a doctor of philosophy was asked:
Is your concern with large-scale pollution or small spills?
We are concerned with all pollution. Naturally, the bigger the spillage the worse it is. There is one thing to be said: a large spillage is something immediately seen and dealt with. Small spillages may possibly escape attention, as has happened before now, and this will have a possibly longer and more serious effect. Certainly a series of small spillages at intervals, and the chemical provision of dispersants will effect a gradual change in the flora and fauna—for instance, the animals and plants you find will not be the ones you found before. There may be tremendous changes.
That is what an expert on marine biology said about the effect of small spillages on the ecology of Amlwch.
However, my right hon. Friend will say, and I do not quarrel with him, that there has been no pollution at Durban
and, therefore, why should there be any pollution at Anglesey? I therefore quote the evidence of Dr. J. H. Simpson, who is a lecturer in physical oceanography at the University College of North Wales. Dr. Simpson, speaking about Amlwch and Anglesey, said:
The hydrographic data available suggests that an oil leakage from Amlwch will spread rapidly along the coast where only a small component of onshore current will be required for it to come ashore on the beaches of Anglesey's north coast. Since such a complicated pattern of water movements is involved, accurate predictions of oil movement will prove difficult. Treatment of the spillage could also be difficult, if not impossible at times, because of its rapid spreading and the hostile wind and wave conditions in the region.
It is perhaps worth noting that conditions at Amlwch are generally less favourable, for both offloading manoeuvres and cleaning up operations, than at the other SBMs which we have. For example, Durban, which I understand has a less than acceptable spillage record, is not exposed to the same extremes of wind, waves and tide which afflict Amlwch.
That was the evidence of Dr. J. H. Simpson, who was saying, in effect, that the danger of spillage is greater at Amlwch than Durban. Of course, we have already had evidence from an expert in marine biology to say what the effect on Anglesey's ecology would be if such spillages occurred.
Dr. Jones was a distinguished witness, but his evidence was controverted by other experts in the course of Select Committee hearings in both Houses. I referred to the Durban SBM because my hon. Friend was making much of it. However, I should prefer him to deal with an SBM much nearer home, the one in the Humber estuary which has been working successfully for 18 months and where no damage to flora or fauna has been discovered.
I accept that entirely about the Humber SBM. I am not attempting to adduce any greater evidence than the facts will bear. On the other hand, when my right hon. Friend says that the evidence of the expert whom I have quoted was controverted, that is putting it a little high. His evidence was contradicted but not controverted. There were two examples of evidence put forward. I put forward the evidence of an acknowledged expert whom my right hon. Friend has said is a distinguished expert. I ask the House to take that evidence into account in coming to its decision. I do not ask the House to let it bear any greater weight than it will accept.
Why do I oppose the single buoy mooring so greatly? Contrary to what has been bizarrely alleged, it is not because the oil comes from an Arab country, and that because of some personal obsession I do not wish oil from Arab countries to come to this country. It would be a little strange if I took that view because the state of Israel's economy depends a great deal on oil which comes from the Gulf States. That allegation, which has been put about by hon. Members irresponsibly, is beneath contempt. I oppose the Bill because it is part of an intention by Shell for a progressive invasion of Anglesey.
It is my view that if we have this SBM, with whatever pollution it will bring about, when we have the hideous eyesore of the tank farm, which will not be concealed, the day will come when someone will say "Anglesey is such a mess, let us have a refinery there."
Counsel for the Bill on day one rather grandiloquently said:
I should also add that the Council have obtained from Shell an undertaking they will not seek to set up a refinery or petro-chemical complex on the island of Anglesey. Of course, there are other oil companies and Shell cannot speak for them, but it cannot be envisaged for the moment why any other oil company should be interested in it.
I shall refer hon. Members to another exchange, this time involving Mr. G. A. Williams, the Chairman of the Anglesey Parliamentary Committee, the value of whose evidence I will deal with in a little while. Mr. Williams was asked:
It is right, is it not, that the county council will never be able by itself to prevent similar developments on Anglesey?"—
namely a refinery on Anglesey.
Mr. Williams replied:
We cannot guarantee that will not happen, but there will be a very stout campaign mounted if ever that comes about.
I am sure that there would be such a campaign, but let us see what value such a campaign might have. Let us look at what might occur regarding such a refinery.
I now turn to day six and the evidence adduced about a refinery. I turn to the evidence of Professor Odell, an oil consultant, who was in Shell's employment. Professor Odell left Shell and attempts were made by Shell to discredit him. Nevertheless, he is an oil consultant, whose word should be given some weight, if not given over-weight. Professor Odell was asked:
You mentioned that the establishment of industrial complex systems had, what you called, a demonstration effect and attracted other companies and interests. I would like to refer you to a question and answer given by Mr. Williams, the Anglesey County Council's financial adviser, at the Public Inquiry. He was asked by Mr. Mills, 'In your opinion would you think that the financial attractiveness of this scheme could in fact attract other oil companies? You say that it will stimulate competition that you think'—there is something then—'got to do a similar thing, take their oil in a cheaper way—in other words bringing it in larger tankers. In your opinion, do you think that the Shell setting up here, do you think that other companies will be attracted by the financial advantages?'".
Mr. Hill replied:
'I don't know enough really to give an informed opinion on that though I must say that there is an almost inherent magnetism in things if a particular facility does become available under certain conditions in a certain place quite obviously others will also want to look at that possibility. I mean whether they'll ever achieve anything or whether they would come but I am obliged to agree with you that I think it does give a stimulus in that direction'.
Professor Odell was then asked:
Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Hill's suggestion that there is almost an inherent magnetism?
Professor Odell replied:
Certainly, on the basis of European-wide experience this is so. Every such terminal has been accompanied by refinery development or the proposal for a refinery, with the single exception of the one in North Germany.
That question was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Bridgeton (Mr. James Bennett), who was a member of the Select Committee. My hon. Friend questioned Professor Odell as follows:
You have heard it stated that there is a question of a refinery on Anglesey, but the County Council itself bitterly opposed any suggestion of it. Do you yourself think in the light of what has been said that it would be bad business not to have a refinery on Anglesey if this SBM project goes through?
Professor Odell replied:
Well, for one of many companies it could be a good location for a refinery if a refinery were possible. As I said in previous evidence, there is no company other than Shell, apart from Burmah with its small refinery, which has refining facilities in that part of the United Kingdom, and at some stage in the future some other company in the United Kingdom will want one.
I conclude my quotations from evidence about the possibility of a refinery by turning to the end of day six where we find counsel against the Bill saying:
My conclusion that approval to the tank farm would not in itself create a serious precedent is however tempered by 2 reservations, the first of which is that it must be recognised that the change of character due to building on nearly 200 acres of agricultural land would inevitably make further development less easy to resist. Secondly, without knowledge of the requirements of other oil companies the likely pressure for development to take advantage of the surplus capacity on the terminals is also unknown. Increased revenue from the terminals would be a factor in favour of such development.
I said that I was quoting counsel against the Bill and so I was, but counsel against the Bill was quoting the inspector of the Department of the Environment who was warning him about the inherent magnetism that might attract a refinery.
Therefore, I say that once we have the ravaging of Anglesey which I greatly fear is taking place, it will be very difficult for a tiny county council to resist. It is very interesting to note that the functions under the Local Government Bill are being transferred to the Anglesey district council to make sure that the same tiny area which has been overshadowed by Shell will still be a tiny area and not a county area, and will have to cope with this matter.
What are the bona fides of Shell? The House of Lords had to issue a further Special Report because of the way in which Shell withheld evidence about spillages in Durban. The Special Report stated:
The Committee feel bound to put on record their surprise that an organisation of the international standing of the Royal Dutch Shell Group should have found such difficulty in supplying statistics of spillage and pollution which had occurred in single buoy Terminals under their control.
Before the Committee Shell had stated that various organisations all over the
world were in a sense autonomous so it could not insist on getting information from them.
But it was not just the House of Lords that reproved Shell for the way in which they withheld evidence or gave false evidence. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), speaking in the Second Reading debate in this Chamber said about Shell:
The Shell representatives were not prepared to tell us the cost of the scheme or how it would work.
My hon. Friend—and I use that phrase in its parliamentary sense—should make it quite clear that that Bill referred to proposals by the Shell Company for a single buoy mooring for Anglesey when we had co-sponsorship in partnership with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board; not this Bill, this scheme, but the scheme that was proposed at the start but never got further than the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board's offices.
I am well aware of that. My hon. Friend, and I do not use that expression only in the parliamentary sense—I shall not allow a little difference to prevent my seeking to pour oil on troubled waters—knows that I am perfectly well aware that he was then referring to the project when it was to be under the control of Merseyside, but he also knows perfectly well that it was the identical project that is now being proposed but which was simply going to be run by the Mersey Port rather than by the Anglesey County Council. That is literally the only change that has been made. In any case, whatever the project was, and it was a project for a single buoy mooring for Anglesey, and my hon. Friend cannot deny that—
Certainly, but he is on record as reproving Shell by saying:
The Shell representatives were not prepared to tell us the cost of the scheme or how it would work."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 142.]
But my hon. Friend need not take only his own word. Another supporter of the Bill is the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) whom I have also advised
I would mention in this debate. He, on Second Reading said:
I have not always found it easy to extract from Shell what exactly it is trying to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 152.]
If my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby will not believe himself, I refer him to what was said by the hon. Member for Flint, West.
So it is established by the way in which the House of Lords was misled, by what my hon. Friend said and by what the hon. Member for Flint, West said that Shell are not exactly witnesses of probity when this single buoy mooring is involved.
Nevertheless, we come to the astonishing fact that Anglesey County Council in deciding to go ahead with this scheme accepted the word of Shell and of Shell only.
Let us turn to an exchange of questions and answers with Councillor Williams, chairman of the Anglesey Parliamentary Committee:
Q. Well let us just deal with one or two questions. For example, there is the question of the demand at Stanlow for oil. Who gave you that information?
A. Certain information was given to a meeting which was held in January, 1971, by Shell representatives.
You did not make any inquiries from an independent expert, for example an economist, as to whether or not what you were told was true?
A. No, but we have not found anyone to tell us that it is not true.
It really comes to this, that apart from Mr. Hill and such planning advice as you had, you relied on Shell and such other odd sources of information that you could find or were available to you?
A. I cannot accept that because my view is that the County Council deliberated collectively and individually about the matter and gave its opinion. It did so after much thought by lay people who are the elected representatives of the County of Anglesey. We did that in March of 1971, and I do not think that we have been proved to be very wrong since then.
A further question:
Just coming to the whole question of pollution, would I be right in saying that your conclusions in relation to the SBMs and the risk of spillage there are based largely on what you have been told by Shell?
A. They were based to a substantial extent, yes, but if I can say there are seafaring men in the County Council. They know people who are closely connected with the sea and they know, this part of their daily allocation, what it is all about, and that is how one came to this conclusion.
When you were told by Shell about single buoy moorings, you did not, for example, ask them about the figures at single buoy mooring in other parts of the world?
A. Not to the extent of the table that has been put in.
Q. Did you ask them at all?
A. We were told there were no instances of sea pollution at that time.
That was all the care he took, an elected representative, to check on what Shell had said.
Both last week and today my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) has attacked the members and officials of the Anglesey County Council. I must deplore this. It is grossly unfair under the cloak of privilege of the House to say what my hon. Friend has said about these distinguished people who have served Anglesey well over a long period of time, and about men who are reckoned to be among the most prudent local government officers in Wales. This is a point that should be made. The officials, of course, are non-political, but the members of the county council represent all political parties. I therefore hope that what my hon. Friend says will not be considered an adequate reason for opposing the Bill. I hope that my hon. Friend will consider the Measure on its merits.
Last week he said that the Anglesey County Council had been taken for a ride and would have the burden of meeting any servicing of the loan of £1·5 million in respect of capital works. He quoted the Commons Select Committee evidence in support of what he said, but he did not quote the evidence in full and it is important that he should be corrected in this respect. In page 36 of day one, 6th June, we read that Councillor Alan Williams, whom my hon. Friend has sought most unfairly to denigrate, said that the service estimated cost of the works was £¾ million and the company had agreed with the county council to meet the interest and loan charges. In other words, the county council was not so gullible as my hon. Friend thinks, and he should really take pains to check before making statements of that kind, which mislead the House.
I have been to enormous pains on this matter. I can understand my right hon. Friend wishing to defend the Anglesey County Council, and I admire him for it. If I were in his position I would do the same. When he says that I have attacked the county councillors under the cloak of privilege, I reply that I have used parliamentary privilege for what it is required for and what it is available for—saying things which require to be said without fear or favour. I do not know Councillor Williams or which party he belongs to or whether he is a nice man or a nasty man. All I know is that what he said before the Committee was disgraceful and in my view a betrayal of the people he is alleged to represent. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is offended.
My right hon. Friend has referred to the £750,000. I mentioned it. I dealt with it at some length last week. I deliberately mentioned it and compared it with the £1·5 million. If my right hon. Friend is saying that I did not give every piece of evidence available, maybe that was so, but he moved the Closure on me because I was speaking too long.
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not wish to be unfair. The point he was making last week was that the service charges on this sum of money, whether £1·5 million or £750,000, would have to be met by revenue which Anglesey would receive from the project. If he had read a sentence or two further on, he would have found that agreement had been reached between Shell and the county council to meet these charges.
If my right hon. Friend says that I have been misrepresenting in any way, then I am happy that he has intervened and put right what he believes I put wrong. In no way do I seek to misrepresent. I have exceedingly strong opinions on this matter, which are totally disinterested, as my right hon. Friend will accept, but I do not seek to misrepresent and I am putting all the evidence I can before the House.
The lack of frankness by Shell was acknowledged even by Captain Overschie. On the question of Shell honouring its
undertaking to provide information, he was asked:
I can take it now, can I, that they still do not propose to give us the records?
He, representing Shell, said:
I do not think they will.
He did not think that Shell would provide the Committee with the information and in fact Shell did not provide it—and that was the information required in order to get an accurate impression of exactly what the pollution dangers were.
In drawing my remarks to a close, I should like to use not my own words but the words of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill in another place on 9th June last year. I think that he stated the position as well as it can possibly be stated. He pointed out that this was a case of an enormous multi-million pound company with immense power persuading a tiny county council to do what it wanted done, and commented:
… when a small local authority is teamed with a large public company, no matter how high the reputation of that company may stand, we should look closely at what is proposed in order to check that, as time goes by, the public authority will remain the master in its own house and will not become the weaker partner. In such cases our local authorities are notoriously bad judges in their own cause, and they are often at a disadvantage. Councillors become excited at the idea of developments on a large scale. They think in terms of greatly increased rateable value and feel that something is at last going to happen in their distant neighbourhood; while their officials tend to become even more excited. But most of them have had little experience of industrial development. It can well be that they have in the short term the prospect of some advantages which, as the years go by, will be outweighed by the far larger advantages accruing to their partner from the industrial venture. I am not accusing anybody of doing anything underhand or dishonourable: this is just part of the facts of life. Hence, I think we should look most carefully at these proposals, because in the end a public company of the size, nature and scope of that which we are considering here has resources which are far greater, and an influence which is far stronger and wider, than that of the council of any small county."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 9th June, 1972; Vol. 320, c. 269.]
That was a warning on behalf of the little man against a vast capitalist company by a Conservative ex-Member of this House. If a Conservative can see the dangers to this tiny council from this leviathan which has come along and
bamboozled it into believing that this project will be helpful, I cannot see that my Socialist friends on this side of the House will be bamboozled in that way. I have very deep respect for my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey, and I know that many hon. Members vote with him, as I would in any other circumstances, because of personal regard for him. But despite the fact that he is the sponsor of the Bill, something which in any other circumstances would lead me to support it, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends as Socialists to vote against a Measure which is profoundly antisocial.
I support the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) in his opposition to the Bill. I do not do so as a Socialist but as a Conservative and perhaps for very different reasons from those he has advanced. This is a very important Bill and if it were to be decided on the evidence which has been put before us I believe that the House would vote it out. If Shell has got a good case, I regret to say that in my opinion it has failed to present it to the House and I congratulate most sincerely the hon. Gentleman on the very excellent case he has put to the House.
For many years business and profits have taken precedence over social and environmental matters. Technological progress and blind determination to achieve a higher standard of living in money terms have ridden roughshod over many other considerations. As a result, large areas of our country have been laid waste and despoiled without thought to the loss of amenity, without thought for the social consequences and without adequate thought of the risks involved.
Areas of great beauty in our country-side and on our coasts have been desecrated by monstrous monuments to modern living. We are not so well blessed in the United Kingdom that we can allow the demands of so-called progress to invade our remaining areas of outstanding beauty. Anglesey is a place where I have spent many wonderful holidays. It is a magnificent island. The whole coast of North Wales is magnificent. Both Anglesey and North Wales are great holiday and tourist attractions. One could describe them as national assets.
The proposal to construct an off-shore oil terminal for giant tankers could put the future of the whole area in jeopardy. Oil pollution if it occurs would destroy to a large degree the holiday and tourist trade, to the economic disadvantage of many thousands of people who are employed in the hotel, catering and entertainment industries in North Wales and Anglesey.
In considering the Bill, what would be the advantages of the new Shell terminal? Would they outweigh the disadvantages of pollution which I believe would result if the terminal were established on the coast of Anglesey? I believe that the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages. There would no doubt be substantial rateable value due to the county council. However, we are informed—and it has not been contradicted—that the number of jobs resulting from the terminal would be a maximum of 35 to 40. That is the information which has come to be available to us.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the doubling of the capacity of Stanlow must have considerably important industrial repercussions in that area and throughout the whole of Lancashire industry?
I intend to come to that briefly, but I will say now that the establishment of a terminal there could well result in a reduction of the work force in the Mersey docks. We know the situation of the British docks today—it is very serious. Offset against the 35 to 40 jobs which would result from the terminal would be the loss to the island in the tourist trade. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will see the serious nature of this proposal if it were successful and oil spillage occurred.
In examining this Bill to establish a single buoy mooring type terminal on the coast of Anglesey, any interested person immediately looks to the experience gained elsewhere in the world as to the reliability of this kind of installation. As we have heard, Shell has such a terminal at Durban, in South Africa. As we have been advised, certain spillages have taken place there. Here I want to quote from
a report in the Observer of 25th June last in which a Durban Member of Parliament was quoted as saying:
There is continual spillage taking place. Provision is made there for a surplus boat with certain detergents which are used to spray the surplus slicks when they occur, but … there is still oil coming ashore.
The report went on to say that the MP had added
… that the effect of the detergents was that the oil came ashore 'not as a liquid but in great semi-liquid, semi-solid blobs that disperse through the sand and can go down as far as 18 in. to 2 ft.
'Therefore, to talk about sweeping it up … is a lot of nonsense. You cannot sweep it up because it goes down so deep. This is spreading further and further down the coast.'
That is ample evidence that there is pollution from this type of installation and I hope that the House will bear it in mind.
I obviously do not wish to intervene in this debate because my function is to remain neutral on a private Bill, but I wonder whether my hon. Friend has read the report of the inspector who heard evidence at an inquiry a year ago? The findings of the inspector were that the risk of pollution from the development proposed in Anglesey would be likely to be less than the risk of pollution from the present arrangement.
I cannot comment on that. I would perhaps expect the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick, if he can intervene again, to comment on it. There is a mass of evidence in this debate and I regret that perhaps I have not read every word on the subject. But it is worth repeating that the information on the reliability of the Durban installation directly contradicts Shell's case that no single buoy mooring terminal has been the continuing agent of beach pollution.
The Anglesey County Council's position on the Bill has been based on a total acceptance of the assertion by Shell of no beach pollution.
My purpose is to highlight the environmental aspects of the matter. Furthermore, it is now clear from Shell's own figures that the risks of oil spillage from the present lightening operations in Liverpool Bay are very much smaller than those from discharging at single buoy mooring terminals.
Two other matters are worthy of mention. We are all very much aware of the position of our docks—and this is a reply to some extent to the intervention made by the right hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes). It is estimated that if a single buoy mooring terminal is established off Anglesey, the Mersey will suffer financial losses of about £1·3 million per annum, leading, no doubt, to further redundancies in the docks in the area and also to redundancies in the dock installations. Surely we must look at this proposal from an overall national standpoint. We must not look at it in isolation, ignoring future developments in oil supply and availability. These points have been touched upon at length by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick.
In putting forward a proposal such as this, to establish an oil terminal off a coastline of outstanding natural beauty, off a shore line internationally famous for its wild life, with part of the installation a 200-acre tank farm in deep countryside with cross-country pipelines and all the destruction which goes with the construction of such pipelines, I believe that Shell should have been prepared to make out a case that the terminal was in the national interest. In my opinion, and it may be an opinion shared by others, Shell has utterly failed to do so.
A marginal increase in Mersey tanker traffic could cope with the crude oil needs of Stanlow, and there is no doubt that if a terminal were established, it would be difficult—and my experience of local government supports this view—to refuse future allied developments in Anglesey, an area which I regard as being of outstanding beauty.
For those and other reasons, I hope that the House will refuse to sanction the Bill.
I have followed the progress of the Bill with great attention, because in some way it forms a precedent as to how we are to deal with oil developments. I represent two sets of islands on which the impact of oil will be greater than that upon Anglesey.
This very day in Orkney the local planning committee is considering an application which, if accepted, might involve the damming up of a whole bay of Orkney and the flattening of a whole hill, with dramatic effect on the landscape, and the construction of a concrete oil rig of which the base will be measured in acres of concrete. It will have a dramatic effect not only on the landscape but on the social life of Orkney.
During the debate there has been some criticism of the handling of the Bill by the Anglesey County Council. I know nothing about that and I do not want in any way to be associated with attacks on Anglesey County Council. But it makes me wonder whether the small county councils, such as that which I represent and such as that represented by the right hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes), are being supplied with the means to get the level of advice that they now require. These matters are far beyond the normal scope of a county council. The whole scale of planning has been altered. I do not know whether the Government are prepared either to provide the councils with advice, or to give them the means of getting it.
There has been criticism of the lack of information from the Shell oil company. I have had several conversations with Shell and I must confess that I consider that I have been well treated by the company. It has given me a good deal of information as far as it can go, but this is a difficult subject with unknown possibilities and, as has been stressed, we are still only exploring the dangers of pollution.
It is not only oil technology; it is the whole of big business and how to handle companies that are associated with oil companies. I wonder whether the Government have faced that problem and whether they should provide county councils and other authorities with the means to deal with this new situation.
Under the Bill, the oil company has agreed to make considerable contributions and other payments to Anglesey County Council. I attach great importance to that. I understand that those contributions are over and above what the company will pay in rates, and I believe that to be right. I hope that this will set a precedent for other companies, as well as oil companies, which may be making great demands on the landscape, often very beautiful landscapes, and landscapes on a scale which simply cannot be flattened out in any sort of nineteenth-century way as though we were back in the worst days of the Industrial Revolution.
I understand that under the Bill the county council is to become a harbour authority, and this, too, is welcome. It is vital for the Government to encourage public authorities to take control of those parts of the coast likely to be affected by the development of oil companies or by the development of companies associated with oil. I understand that the Bill will allow the county council to accumulate any profits accruing from the harbour venture and to put them to the general good of the county, and I attach great importance to that. Local authorities should be empowered to offer a package deal to developing companies so as to maintain control over the land in question while keeping a finger on such things as education and housing and the impact of any commercial venture on the community.
Pollution is a profoundly disturbing problem, not only in Durban but, for instance, off the coast of America where it has been vast. We know very little about its dangers. That being so, would it not make sense for the Government to set up some fund which might at least compensate, so far as that is possible, some of the areas that might be affected by pollution? It is no good telling Anglesey or Shetland or Orkney County Council, "You just have to meet the cost". The national interest is involved and pollution does not come ashore exactly on county boundaries. It is a national matter, and a national fund is greatly needed.
When the oil age is over, and that may not be so very long—it is said that the North Sea fields may last for 25 years and I do not know how long Shell will take oil even to this mooring off Anglesey—we are promised that everything will be put back, that restitution will be made, that willows will be planted around the oil installations, that a forest will be planted on Orkney—and that will be an uphill job, for no one has succeeded in doing that since about 3000 BC.
What stands behind the promise? How does a local authority ensure that such a promise is made good? This, too, is a matter for the Government. We know how quarry companies form subsidiaries so that when they have finished exploiting a quarry they may go out of business. I am not suggesting that reputable companies would do that, but I am suggesting that we must not repeat the mistakes of the nineteenth century. Generations to come will not forgive us if we leave places like Anglesey in ruin for the sake of 25 years of prosperity.
I believe that the two can be reconciled, but that is something that needs the support of the Government. It is their responsibility to see that development is carried out in such a way that the local community gains now, but that when the oil boom is over, the local community is not left to clear up the mess.
I support the Bill and I do so because I have satisfied myself, having attended all the debates on the Bill in this place as well as having studied evidence elsewhere, that there is a genuine likelihood of distinctly less pollution if the Bill is carried through.
We have heard that super-tankers coming into Liverpool Bay have to go through the process known as lightening, whereby the bulk of the oil is siphoned off into smaller tankers which then discharge either at Tranmere oil terminal or into the Queen Elizabeth II Dock at Eastham. Each time one of the smaller tankers is connected to the super-tanker and the oil commences to be pumped, there is a risk of leakage. Similarly, each time pumping ceases and the disconnection process occurs, there is a similar chance of leakage. When the small tankers come up the Mersey to Tranmere or Eastham, likewise they have to go to the oil terminal and commence pumping, with similar risks and equally, on disconnection, when they have emptied their tanks.
The hon. Gentleman has occupied more than two hours of the debate. Time is limited, as he knows, and he must now allow the other side of the case to be put.
Each time the process occurs, there is a risk of spillage. It has been known to happen, and let us make no bones about it. But if a super-tanker is connected to a single buoy mooring, there is only one connection at the commencement of the process and only one disconnection at the end. I am satisfied that that process is distinctly less likely to result in spillage than is the present system.
Do not let us pretend that Liverpool Bay is a vast Mediterranean seaside resort. There is already ample oil on the shores of Liverpool Bay, stretching out into North Wales. I do not blame Shell or any one company for it, but there is plenty of oil on the beaches now and plenty of oil is being spilled in Liverpool Bay under the present system. Because I believe that this project will decrease spillage, I support the Bill.
That is not the only reason. Oil comes into Tranmere oil terminal in my constituency, the jetty sticking out into the Mersey. The tankers are getting larger and in consequence finding it more difficult to manoeuvre in confined waters. There have already been a number of accidents, one in particular when one of the tankers smashed a large part of the jetty which cost more than £250,000 to repair, and the crash put that portion of the jetty out of action for about 12 months. Constituents of mine sleep in their beds at night within 100 yards of where those tankers are discharging oil. This risk of fire and explosion virtually in the heart of an area where people are living is a risk the continuation of which I am not prepared to countenance. Fortunately we have not had a fire or explosion on a tanker so far, but no one can say that it cannot happen.
There is another form of pollution. The smaller tankers that come into Queen Elizabeth II dock at Eastham discharge some of their oil into storage tanks on the quayside and much of that oil is carried by road through the small village of Eastham. I do not suppose that many hon. Members know that village, but it is very attractive and many hundreds of years old, and it has narrow winding streets.
About 350 road tankers per day pound through the village streets of Eastham. They have knocked down the garden walls of my constituents and have even bumped into the walls of houses, not only garden walls. There are people in Eastham who have had to board up their front doors because they dare not go out of their front doors on to the pavement because of the wide tankers passing by and so they use their back doors. That is a form of pollution that would be much better ended.
If instead of that we had a single buoy mooring in Liverpool Bay to which there was one connection only at the commencement of the pumping process and one disconnection at the end, and if all that oil could be carried by pipeline to Stanlow, the environment of that part of the North-West would be much improved.
Another aspect of the matter is the provision of jobs. It has been said that this project will cost approximately £55 million. Here is a company prepared to invest that sum in the North-West, and it is not investing taxpayers' money. It is not getting any assistance from the Government's recent Industry Act, which has assisted many companies and which has been of great help to us in the North-West but which is not applicable in this instance.
The construction of this single-buoy mooring and the attendant pipelines running right through North Wales and buried and the land then landscaped on completion will be a job taking two to three years and employing many people. Much of the work of burying pipelines will mean the employment of unskilled labour, and that will be useful with the present state of unemployment in the North-West. That is a further reason why I support the Bill.
While my hon. Friend is talking about jobs, no doubt having checked he is able to tell the House how many people will be without jobs because they will no longer be driving 350 lorries a day carrying oil through his village.
I cannot quote the exact figure, but my constituents in Eastham will be greatly relieved if even 25 per cent. of the lorries can be taken off the streets of Eastham. I certainly speak for my constituents in that respect.
In addition to the extra work coming to the North-West from the construction process, on completion we will also bene- fit from having an efficient oil undertaking in our area with a consequential benefit of lower fuel costs in the North-West. That will bring further benefit in that the oil companies, including Shell, will continue to use Stanlow and other installations in Ellesmere Port.
I do not have any information that is not available to the rest of the House, and as the House will know there has been a trend over the last few years to use ever larger tankers with consequent economies of scale. It stands to reason that to pump the oil by pipeline is much more economical than using fleets of lorries. I must admit that I cannot support that by statistics.
It seems common sense and for that reason I support this proposal, because I believe that the North-West will benefit, not only in the construction stage but because it will ensure that Shell and other oil companies continue to invest heavily in the North-West. Their doing so will be to our benefit.
The debate on Third Reading has shown again that whilst the Bill is of primary importance and concern to the people of Anglesey and the North-West, it is also of major importance and concern to people much further afield, to the people of Merseyside and the North-West, the Midlands and Orkney and Shetland.
I put on record my tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) and his Welsh colleagues who have always recognised this wider interest. This is no mere constituency matter and perhaps it was in recognition of this that last week my right hon. Friend, in suggesting possible ways that this debate might have gone—I emphasise the "might"—said that I might usefully take part in it.
There is a certain piquancy in that because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) knows and as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) certainly knows, this might have been a Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Bill because the first proposal for the establishment of a single buoy mooring for Anglesey was made by the Shell Company to and through the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.
That proposal did not last very long. Quickly and rightly in my view, it became an Anglesey County Council and Shell Oil Company partnership. The people of Anglesey immediately took a keen, critical and constructive interest in this proposal. Whether they gave full support or qualified support or qualified opposition or wholehearted opposition, they have a common interest and concern for the welfare and well-being of Anglesey second to none in any part of the United Kingdom.
I have met many who support the Bill and many who oppose it. Before Third Reading I met no one who doubted the ability, courage or honesty of those with whom they might disagree. Their concern was the same. Their views, evidence and information might be different, but the recognition of that integrity was admirable.
In opening the debate last week my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey said that the Bill had been discussed and debated in detail inside and outside the House over the past two years—in Anglesey, throughout Wales in the North-West and in Parliament. Among the mass of evidence and opinions put forward, either in support of the Bill or in opposition to the Bill, the experience of the operation of the single buoy mooring system off the port of Durban in South Africa has been cited.
I was able to see that SBM system during the last Summer Recess. I was able to visit the refinery which it served. I should explain that the visit was a late inclusion in a three-week visit to South Africa which had been prepared for myself and two Labour colleagues over a period of many months. The itinerary that had been carefully arranged allowed for five days based in Durban.
In July, I asked the Shell Company whether it could make arrangements for my hon. Friends and me to visit the refinery and the SBM. It immediately agreed to do so and I want to put on record my appreciation of the help that I have had as a Member from Merseyside from the Shell Oil Company with information and statistics. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) or to anyone else that I speak as a Member from Merseyside but everyone knows that I am a sponsored Member of the National Union of Mineworkers. I am not ashamed of my union knowing this, knowing that I talked to the Shell Oil Company. If the coal miners of this country are to learn more about fuel policy, we have to know what our competitors are doing.
If my hon. Friend will allow me to make my own speech in my own way, I will come to that.
I was putting on record my appreciation of the information I had had from the Shell Oil Company. It might be sufficient in this debate simply to say that my three-week visit was made separately and independently of the Shell Oil Company, separately and independently of the Anglesey County Council and separately and independently of the Government of South Africa. I have no financial interest in this Bill and I have no financial interest in any person or organisation whom I know to be interested in the Bill. That, at this stage, will have to be enough.
On 25th August I was able to visit the Sapref refinery and its operations, and from the seashore to see the SBM. We discussed the SBM and its operation in detail with the general manager of the refinery, Mr. Wilson—[Interruption.]— Mr. J. R. Wilson, no relation to my right hon. Friend. We discussed the SBM and its operation and we asked for and he later gave a detailed written report of the experience and operation of the SBM.
It is relevant to this debate, because it has been raised by many people, that I put on record the report that was given to us. This is the report of Mr. J. R. Wilson, the general manager of the Shell and B.P. South African Petroleum
Refineries, dated 29th August, 1972, four days after we had visited him. It says:
When you visited Sapref last Friday for an on-the-spot discussion on the single buoy mooring system I undertook to put down a few facts and figures on paper for you. I have summarised the operational incidents at our SBM in Table I and the results of our aerial patrol for oil slick spotting off the Natal Coast are reviewed in Table II.
It is a pity that we cannot put these tables on the record.
The Durban single buoy mooring operated by Sapref on behalf of the owners, Shell, BP, Mobil and Sasol, was commissioned on the 19th September 1970 and since then we have had 141 tankers on the buoy. The quantity of crude oil discharged in this period (September 1970 to August 1972) is 12,182,000 metric tons. Although there are 33 spillages recorded as having taken place at the S.B.M., I would emphasise that many of these are extremely small ones but they have been noted for the record because, as responsible citizens, we are concerned about the conservation of our environment. In fact, 23 of the 33 spillages have been anything from a few pints of crude up to 1 ton and we have not had a single spillage which exceeds 20 tons of oil. We estimate the total quantity of oil spilt at the S.B.M. in all incidents to be no more than 80 tons which is a fraction of a percent of the total oil discharged at the S.B.M.
The design, construction and operation of the S.B.M. embodied every possible precaution to prevent pollution. A suitably equipped launch is on stand-by throughout the discharge of tankers and all spillages that have occurred were quickly and effectively dispersed with a low toxicity dispersant approved by the Department of Sea Fisheries and supplied by BP. The success of the measures adopted to avoid the consequences of oil spillage at the S.B.M. can be judged from the fact that only on one occasion has a small quantity of oil scum/dispersant reached the nearby beaches of Amanzimtoti and this had disappeared completely within 12 hours.
Needless to say, the little round black balls of weathered crude oil which are common on many European bathing beaches are now also present on those of the Natal coastline due to the vastly increased shipping activity around South Africa's shores since the closure of the Suez Canal in 1967. The S.B.M. has frequently been accused of having been responsible for the black oil blobs on Durban's beaches and in an attempt to ascertain the true facts of oil slicks off the Natal coastline in close proximity to Durban, the Company arranged for a daily aerial patrol for oil slick spotting. This survey pays particular attention to an area of 25 miles radius around Durban but also records oil slicks beyond this area. In the period March 1971 to August 1972 there have been 306 daily observations and only on 115 occasions was no oil recorded at all. Some of the facts and figures derived from this survey are summarised in Table II.
I am sure that the House is interested in this question of the oil slicks. Has my hon. Friend looked into the question of whether the figure of £1,300,000 is the loss that Liverpool will suffer? Secondly, how many jobs will we lose on Merseyside and how many will be gained in Anglesey? Will my hon. Friend tell us that, because that will determine very much how I vote?
Perhaps my hon. Friend will be patient. I am trying, within a very short space of time, much less than that taken by my hon. Friend the Memfor Ardwick, to cover the major matters. There has been a great deal of criticism levelled at these proposals and I would like to answer some of the arguments not for my sake but to get the facts on the record. If I can do this in a consecutive order it might save time.
The report from the general manager goes on to say:
The flourishing marine growth on the SBM itself and its anchor chains and hoses, and the abundance of fish-life in the vicinity of the buoy is a living testimony of the effectiveness of any clean-up operations that we have conducted in the area. The independent diving company that undertakes all maintenance work for us at the buoy has in fact made a video tape of the marine life at the SBM which is available to you if you wish a copy, and which confirms this aspect of our operation. And finally, we have had an independent survey carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of the marine flora and fauna around the Reunion Rocks Canal by them before and after the commissioning of the SBM. This also confirms that our operations had no adverse effect on marine life in the area.
Mr. Wilson gives the facts and figures which show that there have been very few spillages at the SBM—a total of six between September-December, 1970, and January-August, 1972, whereas in outside areas, up to 25 or 40 miles away, a total of more than 220 oil spillages has been observed. That is an honest, convincing report. Great care is taken. From what I saw and after talking to the manager I was convinced of the validity of the information he gave me. There might be doubting Thomases who would say that he was an interested person and was trying to give a favourable report. Equally it might be assumed that my hon. Friends and I were, before we became Members of Parliament, as green
as grass and starry-eyed. If we were—and that is a big assumption—Parliament soon changed that. Anyone who goes to South Africa and gets information from any company, person or organisation ought to take care to check and double-check. We did that in this case but not out of disrespect to anyone with the company, to the manager or anybody else. We checked and double checked.
I talked to Indian South African fishermen fishing from the SBM beach. They said that their catches of fish were good. I talked about the SBM with the Mayor of Durban, Durban city councillors, Durban provincial Members of Parliament, and Durban Members of the national Parliament. They had no complaints to make about the SBM. I walked on the Durban beaches—the white, brown, black beaches and I even found multi-racial beaches—and none of the bathers complained about oil from the SBM. My hon. Friends and I were flown to the Transkei by the same company which operates the oil search and the pilot confirmed my information. We toured Durban harbour and the harbour engineer of the South African Railways Board, Mr. A. Edwards, told us that the "operation of the SBM had caused no embarrassment to the port of Durban". We asked whether we could quote him and we were told, "Certainly". Anyone can telephone him for the information.
The traffic off the coast of Durban is much greater than the traffic off the coast of Anglesey. The ocean conditions off Durban, with a 30 ft. rise and fall, are much worse than they are off the coast of Anglesey. The dangers and hazards off Durban are much greater than they are off Anglesey.
My hon. Friend the Member for Walton said that the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board will lose £1,300,000 if the scheme goes through. It is spending £1 million on dredging. The £1,300,000 is a balance. The figures are false. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board does not object to the Bill and I doubt whether it accepts those figures.
Much has been made of the difference in traffic through Merseyside which will result if this proposal is accepted. If the refinery at Stanlow is to expand, as it must if we want expanding employment in the North-West in the 1980s, the total flow of traffic through Merseyside must be greater, because Stanlow will be an oil exporting as well as an oil importing port. If we want to get super-tankers up the Mersey, we shall have to dredge deeper and longer than we do. Tankers and container ships are often thought to be identical. The container ships ride high; there must be deep dredging for tankers. At the moment one super-tanker a week goes up the Mersey. The traffic in the Mersey has to be stopped to enable it to pass. With five a week the ports of Merseyside will almost be closed.
What will happen if this proposal for an SBM, instead of bringing tankers together, with the ever-present and growing risk of contamination, goes through? I was in South Africa when the "Texanita" and the "Oswego Guardian" collided off Cape Province. The "Texanita" sank with terrible loss of life. The hole in the "Oswego Guardian" created an oil slick 40 miles long and 10 miles wide. Think what a similar occurrence would do to Anglesey. Tankers should be kept apart if possible. Assume that in 10 year's time we are, like it or lump it, part of the European Economic Community. Let us hope that we have a Labour Government in power here and there is a socialist majority in the European Parliament. Let us hope that trade is booming. The north-west ports of the Continent will be built up. Liverpool and Birkenhead could be the greatest and most prosperous ports in Western Europe, linked by the Channel Tunnel for goods and passengers by super-trains. Then we would see the progress and prosperity which we all want.
If we want prosperity in the North-West it must be based on fuel and energy. I agree that we need to make much better use of our coal resources and that we should be conserving and not exploiting the resources of the North Sea because world resources will at sometime run out. Until we get nuclear power and antimatter, we should be conserving our resources. This Bill is a matter not only of safety but of employment and investment for Wales, Merseyside and the North-West, and I hope that the House will give it a Third Reading tonight.