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Oil Tankers (Ports)

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1962

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asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that ships with a registered tonnage of 130,000 tons are now being constructed for oil carrying purposes; and what ports there are in this country capable of accommodating vessels of this tonnage.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the tankers of some 130,000 deadweight, not registered, tons now being built in Japan. Under favourable conditions these could be received at Milford Haven and Finnart.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we do not have one port in the country that can receive these ships, except at two jetties? Is he aware that if any under-water repairs are required these ships cannot dock in this country and they have to go abroad? Is this the way to maintain our maritime supremacy?

These ships can be received in Milford Haven under reasonable conditions. I said that quite clearly, but the point that the hon. Member is making is that there is not a dry dock to accommodate a ship of this size. I am not aware that there is a demand for a large dry dock at Milford Haven. One is being built at Greenock, one for Vickers on the North-East Coast as being built, and one at Cammell Lairds is to be opened shortly. Therefore, the dry dock facilities in this country have greatly improved in the last few years.

Is not the tendency now to build larger and larger tankers and does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that we are not adequately equipped to deal with them? As the shipbuilding industry is not in a very bright position, would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to have a look at this matter and to consider what forward planning we should have?

On the question of providing dry dock facilities to help the shipping industry, the 850 ft. Vickers dry dock is a good example. Then there is the dock at Cammell Lairds. There is the Grayson Rollo dock in Birkenhead, and in Greenock there is another dry dock on the stocks. I am glad to say that we are doing pretty well in this respect.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even Milford Haven cannot receive these ships? They can come up to the jetty in Milford Haven but they cannot get into Milford Haven dock.

The point is that they can be received in that deep harbour and can discharge their cargo. The fact that they cannot get alongside certain docks in Milford Haven has nothing to do with it.