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Dock Work Regulation Act

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received in relation to bringing into force the Dock Work Regulation Act.

None, Sir. But in response to inquiries I have explained that the Act will be brought into force after consultations about the membership of the new board have been completed.

Is the Minister really saying that Members of the Liberal Party, who said that there would be no Socialism in our time and who opposed the Act, have not made representations that it should not be brought into force? What, then, was the point of the Lib-Lab pact for the Liberals?

Does my hon. Friend realise that there is a great deal of concern in the industry, particularly on the trade union side, about the establishment of the new board and the removal of many of the anomalies in the docks industry which can be dealt with through the Dock Work Regulation Act? May I impress upon him the need to go ahead and implement the Act as soon as possible?

The fact that we have received no representations is an indication of the important and constructive effect that the Act will have on this difficult industry. We are seeking to complete consultations as soon as possible.

Is the Minister aware that many small ports, such as Mostyn in my constituency, much as they welcome the respite that the consultations have provided, are living in an atmosphere of great uncertainty? Does he recognise that that atmosphere is worsened in my area because it is precluded from development area status? Can the Minister give an assurance that nothing in the Act will have the effect of putting small ports such as that at Mostyn out of business?

The hon. Member raises a particular problem. The situation was fully explained to him when the Act was going through the House. He knows that the classification of dock work will depend upon the recommendations of the board when it is established.