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Docks And Harbours (Report)

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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22.

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the report of the Rochdale Committee inquiring into the adequacy of docks and harbours; and if he will make a statement.

23.

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the report of the Rochdale Committee into major docks and harbours; and if he will make a statement.

The Committee is fully aware of the importance and urgency of its task and is making good progress, but it will be some time before its Report can be expected.

Will my right hon. Friend agree that nothing would help the export trade more than an improvement in the efficiency of our docks? Would he keep a watch on this and expedite the report as quickly as possible?

I can assure this House that Lord Rochdale is extremely anxious to complete this as soon as possible because of the very urgency of the need for it, but I am bound to point out to the House that it is a big subject which requires a great deal of study.

Bearing in mind that 99 per cent. of the country's exports still go through the docks of this country, is my right hon. Friend aware that the decision of the Port of London Authority to increase the Tilbury Dock Scheme by £20 million is to be welcomed, and is he also aware that it is necessary to improve both management and labour techniques in the docks of this country?

I realise the importance of that. That is why the terms of reference were drawn so wide, so that Lord Rochdale could include that in his inquiry.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will give satisfaction to the workers and employers because it is necessary that the terms of reference should be wide, because this is a vast industry and we do not want a botched-up report but a report which will really be helpful to both sides?

I agree. From the time of the appointment of the Committee I made it clear that it was not for witch-hunting and trying to apportion blame in any way, but for an inquiry into Management, mechanical handling, construction of docks, labour—every single thing possibly connected with docks.