Orders of the Day — Ports (Financial Assistance) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:56 pm on 25th March 1981.

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Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness 7:56 pm, 25th March 1981

I do not accept that, and on looking around these Benches I see ports' representatives who could speak on the matter with greater knowledge than I can. However, I can give the Secretary of State examples of the financial crisis that is facing other ports and the extent of the increasing burden of funding financial severance and meeting the loans as they become due. It does not happen only in London and Liverpool. As the employers take on higher contributions under the present arrangements for severance payments, so their ability to charge at rates that will enable them to recover or even sustain trade is diminishing in a number of ports, including London and Liverpool.

The most terrifying characteristic of the docks crisis is the lack of any strategic Government policy to enable British ports to take advantage of the technological revolution that has taken place in the industry and to deal with the challenge of some of the major changes that have taken place in the trade.