Ports

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1972.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent) 12:00 am, 27th November 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the British Transport Docks Board about the future prospects of the South Wales ports.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

My officials are in close touch with the port director and his staff, and I am kept fully informed of all developments.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that the election gimmick of the Conservative Party in authorising the port of Bristol's expansion scheme is already doing serious harm to South Wales ports because despite the promises given in the course of the passage of the legislation, Bristol has been continuously poaching South Wales trade? What is the Secretary of State doing about this? Is not the time opportune for a major port development in South Wales? The obvious project seems to be a new iron ore terminal to serve the Spencer works.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

The reasons for approving the Bristol West project were fully explained in the House at the time, and the British Transport Docks Board saw no reason to object. The South Wales ports are continuing to operate profitably and I have every confidence that they will continue to do so. I am aware of competition from Bristol, but I have no cause to fear that it will be harmful to the future prospects of the South Wales ports.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Will my right hon. and learned Friend explain why the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) is always bothering about this matter although very few hon. Members opposite bothered to attend the House to oppose the Bristol Corporation Bill—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. This Question deals with the future.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Very few hon. Members on the Opposition side bothered to vote against the Bill, although I was here and voted against it.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

My hon. Friend takes a very keen interest in matters relating to South Wales ports, in particular to his own port of Barry. For instance, I know he was closely in touch with the progress of the recent negotiations with Geest-Industries in respect of the banana trade at Barry. I am pleased that this trade seems likely to continue there. My hon. Friend should properly direct his question about the attitude of hon. Members opposite to hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

As the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) spoke strongly in favour of the South Wales scheme—

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I voted against it.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

—spoke in favour of it in Welsh Grand Committee, and as the Secretary of State carries a very great responsibility for the South Wales ports, may I ask whether the Secretary of State is aware that the Bristol Private Bill, which was given Government support, and therefore his support, is threatening the trade of South Wales? It already threatens Newport. It threatened Barry. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that it was only a very clever piece of commercial enterprise by the South Wales Docks Board that saved the trade at Barry and had nothing to do with the hon. Member for Barry?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

It should be remembered that the British Transport Docks Board saw no reason to object to the Private Bill for the Bristol West dock project. I am satisfied that Newport will prosper, and that is the reason for the dock access road which will be in the course of being built next year.