asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the latest position in relation to dock labour in the Port of Belfast.
I am pleased to say that following negotiations involving the Department of Manpower Services, the employers of labour at the Deep Sea Docks, the Belfast Harbour Commission and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, an agreement has been concluded for the severance of 212 dock workers from the dockers register and the reintroduction of a scheme of decasualised labour with effect from 29 March 1982. The agreement also provides for improvements in working practices and for the establishment of a severance fund to meet any future severances.The cost of the severance scheme is £925,000. This will be funded by a loan of £395,000 from the Belfast Harbour Commission to be repaid by a levy on total payroll payable by the docks employers and by a grant of £530,000 payable by the Department of Manpower Services.In my reply to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Ferguson) on 21 December 1981—[Vol. 15, c. 265]—I referred to the retention of dockers in the pool at the cross channel docks pending developments in a replacement of the Belfast-Liverpool ferry. It is hoped that a new ferry will commence operations shortly. Manning levels have been agreed and 11 further dockers formerly employed in the cross channel docks on the P&O service will be severed. This brings the total severance payments in respect of dock workers at the cross channel docks to £332,060, of which £188,030 came from public funds.