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Port And Railway Charges, Cardiff

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 27 October 1954

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asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to what extent the trade of the port of Cardiff has been adversely affected by the present port charges and railway rates; and if he will consult with the British Transport Commission with a view to removing these handicaps.

Questions of such charges are for the British Transport Commission, and I understand that the hon. Member has already written to the Chairman of the Commission on this subject.

It is quite true. I hope to get the Minister interested, too. Is the Minister aware that Cardiff dockers are working a smaller number of turns per week than the national average, and that unemployment is resulting there? As the Minister is partly responsible for port charges, if not for railway charges, will he at least look into this aspect of the matter?

It is difficult to say what proportion of the difficulty in Cardiff, which I admit, is caused by these charges. One major fact is that coal exports are much less than they were before the war, but the trade in non-coal imports and exports through Cardiff was bigger last year than it was in 1938.

Is it not a fact that the port charges relate not merely to coal but to the general cargo, and that that is the trouble at the present time? Will the right hon. Genlteman reconsider whether Cardiff's port charges are not above those of other ports?

The hon. Gentleman has put that point to the Chairman of the Commission. The point is that although non-coal exports through the port could be better, they are higher than they were before the war.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this matter is causing far more anxiety in Cardiff and throughout Wales than almost any other industrial problem, and that it has been hanging on for years? Will he try to get the British Transport Commission to get a move on?

The British Transport Commission is looking into the matter. I would not like to agree that this is a very significant factor in the general problem.