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British Transport Docks Bill (By Order)

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1982

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Order for Second Reading read.

11 pm

:I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have no wish to detain the House for long tonight. I am sure that we have all had a long day. Therefore, I shall speak briefly, but factually, to the Bill. I believe that it deserves to be committed.

The preamble to the Bill explains the main reason for the existence of the British Transport Docks Board:
"to provide … port facilities at the harbours …owned or managed by the Board and to have due regard to efficiency, economy and safety of operation".
The duty to provide port facilities is laid down in the Transport Act 1962, which established the British Transport Docks Board. It is in keeping with Parliament's wishes, as enacted in the 1962 Act, that the board has deposited a Private Bill in the present Session. The Bill is concerned with seeking Parliament's approval for the construction of certain marine works.

Part I is formal and in well-precedented terms, dealing with definitions, and incorporating and applying, with modifications to suit local conditions, provisions found in public Acts which are commonly applied by private Acts.

Part II seeks to empower the board, for the purpose of constructing the proposed works, to acquire compulsorily land or rights in land. Clause 5(2), however, provides that such powers shall cease after five years.

Part III seeks the authority of Parliament for the construction of marine works and this is the very heart of the Bill.

Before considering the proposed works in detail, it is appropriate to recall that the port industry in the United Kingdom is fiercely competitive. Although the British Transport Docks Board is a State-owned enterprise, owning 19 ports in England, Wales and Scotland and is the major port operator in the United Kingdom, BTDB has throughout its existence had to compete with other ports.

Each of the development schemes represented by the works proposed in this Bill has been evolved in response to inquiries from potential customers and is intended to meet their anticipated needs.

At this moment, of course, no firm commercial agreement has been finalised in respect of any of the proposed developments, but it will be readily appreciated that in the present hard bargaining arena of the ports industry a customer cannot be expected to commit himself to any large contract unless he has the assurance that the port authority concerned will be able to provide the required facilities, and provide them reasonably quickly, once the commercial agreement has been finalised.

It is for this reason that the board finds itself compelled to come to Parliament to ask for power to carry out marine development to meet the likely needs of its customers.

Clause 8 describes the proposed developments that are referred to as works nos. 1, 2 and 3. Work no. 1 consists of the filling-in of part of Hamilton dock at Lowestoft. A petition against the proposal has been deposited jointly by the Lowestoft In-shore Fishing Vessel Owners Association and the Lowestoft Fishing Vessel Owners Association Ltd.

A petition against the proposal has also been deposited jointly by East Coast Oil Wharves Ltd., LBS Engineering Ltd. and Colne Fishing Company Ltd.

The board's intention in putting forward the proposed power is to enable it to provide additional facilities for the offshore oil construction industry, which already has a major presence in the port and is a major source of employment in the town. The development would complement the existing facilities and would enable Sea and Land Pipelines Ltd., which is already located in the port, or any other company, to build rig modules on a larger scale than can presently be accommodated in the port of Lowestoft.

There is the probability of a considerable increase in employment, amounting to possibly 1,000 new jobs if the development takes place. The board does not intend filling in Hamilton dock on a speculative basis. The development will not be carried out unless and until a firm commercial agreement has been entered into.

Hamilton dock is at present used by the inshore fishing industry. The first petitioners do not believe that the board's proposal to locate inshore vessels in the remainder of Hamilton dock and in the Waveney dock will be satisfactory. They say that the space will be insufficient, and they doubt whether the problem of wave action, which they believe makes Waveney dock unsuitable for them, can be overcome.

The board recognises the force of the case which has been put forward but remains of the view that suitable facilities can be provided for the inshore fishermen if works are carried out to reduce wave action in the Waveney dock. The board will be prepared to give an undertaking to the first petitioners to the effect that they will not be displaced from the Hamilton dock unless suitable alternative facilities have been provided. In the event of any dispute between the board and the inshore fishermen as to the adequacy of alternative facilities, the board would be prepared to submit the dispute for determination to an independent body acceptable to both sides—for example, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Sea Industry Fishing Association or some other impartial and reputable body.

As regards the other petition against work No. 1, there are three companies which have jointly opposed the development. East Coast Oil Wharves Limited operates premises on the dock estate which supplies fuel oil to fishing vessels. LBS Engineering carries on business as ship repairers and undertakes work on the fishing fleet. Colne Fishing Company Limited owns and operates a fleet of fishing vessels.

It will be appreciated that the companies have a close identity of interests with the fishing associations referred to earlier and the docks board has not, to date, entered into negotiations with the group of companies as it seemed appropriate to attempt first to reach an accommodation with the associations.

The board is, of course, willing to offer to the Colne Fishing Company a similar undertaking to that offered to the associations. The board will shortly be making offers to the shiprepairing and fuelling companies, which it is hoped will enable them to continue their business undiminished in any way as the result of the construction of work No. 1.

Port operators are inevitably faced with difficult choices between the interests of their different customers. We all recognise the importance of the fishing industry and the very great difficulties the industry has faced in recent years. None of us will want to add to those difficulties. Equally, however, the nation has a strong interest in the development of our offshore oil facilities, ensuring that the United Kingdom retains its fair share of rig construction. We need to export rigs, not jobs. The board has acted in a responsible manner in putting forward this proposal, and the correct course would be for the complex issues raised by the proposal, and by the petitions, to be considered in Committee.

Work no. 2 consists of a proposed jetty with ancillary works, running out into the river Humber from the south bank at Killingholme, which is not far from Immingham dock. The board has been approached by oil and gas interests who have combined to promote a project for the storage of propane and butane gas in underground caverns at Killingholme. Planning permission has been granted for the storage project and the board has been asked if it could provide a new jetty for both import and export of the gases concerned.

There are existing jetties in the area, some owned by the board and some by other bodies. The initiators of the storage project, however, believe that there is insufficient capacity available at existing jetties for the project to develop its full potential. In their view, the tonnages expected to be handled require an additional jetty and they have therefore asked whether the board would be prepared to construct such a jetty.

Clause 8 describes the proposed location of work no. 2 by reference to an existing jetty referred to as the British National Oil Corporation jetty. In fact this existing jetty is leased to the Crown, the rights and obligations arising under the lease having since 1974 been exercised and performed on behalf of Her Majesty by the Secretary of State for Energy. A company called Humber Oil Terminals Trustee Limited acts as the Secretary of State's operating agents for the jetty. This company has petitioned the House against the clauses of the Bill relating to work no. 2, and the Secretary of State for Energy has issued a report critical of the same provisions.

The board has been in touch with the petitioners and is hopeful that a meeting will be held in the near future when the points of difference, which concern matters such as the protection of navigation and the reconciling of areas of jurisdiction, may be resolved.

In so far as any question between the parties may remain unresolved when the Bill goes into Committee, it will lie with a Committee of the House to decide the question. Therefore, it is not necessary or appropriate to trouble the House tonight with points of detail as to the questions outstanding between the docks board and the petitioner against work no.2.

Work no. 3 is intended to be essentially a duplication of the neighbouring, highly successful, roll-on/roll-off facility constructed by the board at Fleetwood in pursuance of powers that Parliament granted in 1973 with, in addition, a new conventional quay to replace the existing facility that occupies part of the site.

The Wyre borough council supports the proposed works but has asked that the docks board complies with certain requests aimed at safeguarding environmental conditions both during and after construction of the works. The board has agreed to do all within reason to achieve this result. A petition has, however, been deposited against work no. 3 by certain residents of Fleetwood. These petitioners are also concerned with environmental questions and the board is arranging a meeting to explain the proposals to them fully.

Again, if no agreement can be reached whereby the petition is withdrawn, the matter should be decided by the Select Committee after full discussion of all the facts.

Clause 9 seeks authority for the diversion and partial stopping up of a public footpath which runs along the bank of the river Wyre at the site of the proposed work no. 3 at Fleetwood. The docks board will be asking leave at the appropriate time to amend this clause to make it absolutely clear that any diversion or stopping up of this footpath will take place only if and when work no. 3 is constructed.

A petition against this clause has been deposited by the Ramblers Association which has subsequently met the board's officers at Fleetwood and inspected the site. The Board has explained that in its view it is imperative to alter the footpath for the safety of the public. To date this petition has not been withdrawn, but, again, a Select Committee will, if necessary, decide this issue.

Clauses 10 to 16 contain matters ancillary to the main works. Clause 10 deals with dredging. Clauses 11 to 12 relate to areas of marine and other jurisdiction and concern themselves with application of byelaws and the incorporation of parts of the board's previous Acts.

Part IV contains standard protective provisions for the Crown and the Duchy of Lancaster.

Finally, part V contains one or two miscellaneous matters. Clause 18 is merely correcting a clerical error; clause 19 is a standard provision limiting to 10 years the period during which the board shall be deemed to have planning permission for the works described in the Bill; Clauses 20 and 21 are standard clauses.

Hon. Members may feel that the Bill, with its potential benefits to both trade and employment, is worthy of proper consideration by a Committee that will be in a position to determine the full facts as presented by counsel and agents for the promoters and the petitioners. I hope that we can allow the Bill to go forward to its next stage.

11.16 pm

:I wish to speak on the Bill for two reasons. First, one of the projects in the Bill concerns the port of Fleetwood in my constituency, and secondly, one of the other projects concerns the fishing port of Lowestoft. As a member of the all-party Fisheries Committee, I have an interest in developments that affect the fishing industry.

In part III, clause 8, the docks board seeks power to construct an extra quay on the west bank of the river Wyre to create a further berth for the roll-on/roll-off service that at present operates from the port. The present service provides roll-on facilities for vessels sailing between Fleetwood and the north and south of Ireland. That has brought welcome trade to the port, which is especially important in view of the rundown of the deep sea fleet. Many jobs have already been provided in an area of high unemployment. The completion of a new berth would provide up to 200 new extra jobs, which are badly needed.

If there were no other factors, I would give an unrestrained welcome to the Bill because jobs and an extension of trade in the port are badly needed. However, the development poses problems for my constituents who live in the neighbourhood of the present berth and the proposed extra berth. There are two petitions against the Bill. One is from local residents and the other is from the Ramblers Association.

The local residents who have petitioned against the Bill live in Queen's Terrace, which overlooks the site of the development. That block of large houses is a magnificent terrace built by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood, who originally developed the port and town of Fleetwood in the last century. It was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Decimus Burton. The terrace is listed as being of architectural and historical importance. About 10 years ago, the building was converted into luxury flats.

The residents are not unnaturally worried about the impact of the new development on their environment both during the construction of the berth and its subsequent operation. In particular, they are concerned about the noise and activity, day and night, of the new terminal, that will result from the movement of vehicles on and off vessels and the operation of the ferries. They fear, too, that during the construction period there will be noise, dirt and vibration from extensive and necessarily deep pile driving. They are concerned that, apart from the general disturbance, there could be the possibility of structural damage to the terrace as a consequence of deep pile driving and associated vibrations and the severe vibrations caused by vessels manoeuvring. They already have some experience of that in the present operation.

The petitioners are also anxious, as is the Ramblers Association, about the stopping-up of footpaths which have long been used in this section of the River Wyre estuary. I am glad that further talks are to take place. The residents are especially concerned that, in the event of the proposed work being carried out, the services to the terrace concerned should not be damaged. They are also anxious about container lorries being parked outside their homes. I know from my experience as a Member of parliament that that has been a considerable worry for some time to those people living in Dock Street in Fleetwood, who must put up with it.

The petitioners are also concerned about the nuisance caused by the construction work and the normal operation. They are worried that they might be put to some expense should structural damage arise during construction or maintenance of the operation of the terminal.

I am glad to hear from my hon. Friend for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Thornton) that the Wyre borough council has been in touch with the docks board and that there are to be further talks. The borough council has the interests of the people at heart and I hope that the discussions will be fruitful.

I know that the Committee to which the Bill will be referred will give great attention to the views of the petitioners. I sincerely hope that a solution can be found that will enable the development to take place with the proper safeguards for those who will be directly affected by it. I hope that the Select Committee will give a good hearing to the petitioners, because they have real problems. At the same time, however, the port badly needs the development.

I turn now to the proposed filling-in of a large part of the Hamilton dock at Lowestoft. I have spoken to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior). I would not dream of interfering in a constituency matter such as this without his consent. I have discussed the matter with him and I am certain that the views that I am about to express are shared by my right hon. Friend. He regrets that he cannot be here, but his duties are keeping him in Northern Ireland. My right hon. Friend and I have been associated with the fishing industry for many years through all its many and severe problems.

As I understand it, and as has been outlined by my hon. Friend, the Bill provides for the filling in of a large part of the Hamilton dock with a view to the infilled land being made available for the construction of modules for use in the North Sea oil fields. That activity seems to have a somewhat limited life, whereas fishing, given proper protection, will last for ever. I have said that many times before. That proposal has caused consternation in the fishing industry in the port, and petitions have been lodged against the Bill by every section of the industry. It is quite something to unite the fishing industry, but on this matter it is united.

Lowestoft, like every other fishing port, has undergone continuous change to survive. As has happened in other ports, such as in my constituency of Fleetwood, there has been a rundown of the middle water fleet.

In Lowestoft, the middle water fleet has declined from 140 vessels to about 30 during the past few years, although several of the trawlers now act as oil rig safety vessels and still use the port. Along with the rundown in the middle water fleet—this is typical of many other ports—there has been a rise in the number of inshore vessels. That process began with extremely low numbers in Lowestoft in the 1970s and grew to 47 vessels by the end of 1981. Those vessels range from 33 to 90 ft in length.

The rise in the inshore fleet has been due to fishermen who used to man the medium water trawlers having to turn to smaller vessels to earn a living because they know no other trade or business. I make the point here that all fishing communities are closely knit, and it is as much a way of life as anything else that is at stake in Lowestoft.

Why are the fishermen of Lowestoft worried about the filling in of the Hamilton dock? In 1980, the inshore fleet landed fish to the value of £1·6 million. In 1981—a period of very low prices, as anyone concerned with the industry knows—the figure was increased to £2 million. The number of inshore fishing boats is expected to increase shortly, and two 60ft. trawlers, which are new to the port, are expected very soon to join the inshore fleet.

The fishing industry fears that if the Hamilton dock is filled in not only will the remaining facilities be inadequate but expansion will be impossible. Indeed, the docks board has already referred to providing facilities under the new programme only for boats that have fished for 12 months from Lowestoft. That proves my point about expansion. If such a limit is imposed, there will be no obligation to provide facilities for new boats coming in.

With regard to employment, the inshore fleet alone employs 150 fishermen, who this year expect to land fish worth about £2·5 million. Total employment, direct and indirect, amounted to 300 in 1981. The figure this year will be 375, and at the current rate of expansion there may be 468 people dependent on the inshore fishing fleet by next year. Most vessels are now primarily owned by families who have mortgaged themselves to the hilt to make a living in one of the most arduous, dangerous and exacting industries in the country.

On the technical aspects, I am told that 43 inshore vessels moor in the Hamilton dock and that there are no other suitably protected moorings in the harbour complex. The swell from the North Sea that enters the adjoining Waveney dock makes it dangerous and damaging for most of the fleet to remain alongside in any part of that dock when a south or south-easterly wind above moderate strength is blowing. I understand that the amount of swell entering the Waveney dock has increased by 25 per cent. in recent years.

Other technical problems concerning support services for the fishing fleet are set out in detail in the petition that has been presented to the House against the Bill. Those matters will fall to be dealt with in Committee, and they will be closely argued. Today, I am speaking of the real fears of the fishing industry in Lowestoft that the proposed development will bring its long history as a fishing port to an end, when we are in sight of the reopening of herring fishing in the North Sea, which has always been an important part of the Lowestoft fishing set-up. This is most definitely not the time to put that industry at risk.

I think that I speak for all Members of Parliament who represent fishing ports when I say that the time for running down our fishing fleets has ended and it is time for the re-equipment of our fleets to begin. We need British fish landed by British fishermen. We need the food, and we need to rely more on our own and less on foreign-caught fish for our people.

I believe that the Bill should have a Second Reading, but I hope that the objections that have been made will be carefully considered by the Committee and that in both cases to which I have referred some common ground will be found that is agreeable to both parties. There are very strong and necessary objections. Nevertheless, I believe that the Bill should have a Second Reading.

11.30 pm

:I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Thornton) on the way in which he introduced the Bill, although I cannot altogether agree with him that the British Transport Docks Board has been reasonable or even sensible in all the actions proposed in the Bill.

The House will know that the hon. Members for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson) and Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) have been blocking the Bill. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West is in hospital, and the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed has had to go back to his constituency. Therefore, it falls to me as chairman of the all-party Fisheries Committee to take up some of the points that have already been made.

I do so with a certain amount of wry pleasure in opposing the British Transport Docks Board. I believe that I would carry the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) with me when I say that hon. Members from North Humberside have been waging a running war with the British Transport Docks Board and, in particular, with its previous chairman. The board has been instrumental in running down Hull as the major fisheries port in the country. That is not the main reason for the rundown. The main reasons are the 200-mile limit, Iceland and so on. The insistence of the board on maintaining high charges for landing fish in Hull has almost made it impossible for foreign vessels to land in that port. Therefore, they go elsewhere.

I hope that the new chairman, who is about to take over, will co-operate more than his predecessor with local Members of Parliament.

I turn to clause 6, which refers to the effect of the proposal to fill in a large part of the Hamilton dock in Lowestoft. The Hamilton dock is used by the inshore fleet. The distant water fleet in Hull is rapidly declining, but the middle distance and the inshore fleets in Lowestoft are increasing. There are 40 middle water vessels and 50 inshore vessels in operation at the moment. I have with me a picture of the Hamilton dock, with inshore vessels and two middle distance vessels tied up in it—a total of 39 ships. Those vessels will be displaced by the filling-in of this section of the dock.

The stewardship of the British Transport Docks Board in Lowestoft has not been good. I understand that the flood damage caused to the walls of Waveney dock in 1953 has not yet been repaired. We suffered the same type of problem at St Andrew's dock in Hull some years ago. The board wants the area of the Hamilton dock for use as an oil engineering site. That means using very large barges to carry these structures from the filled-in area out to sea. For this reason, the harbour entrance has apparently been altered, with no consultation with the fishing industry. The protecting pier has been halved in length, and the spending bank has been piled in. That means that the waves cannot dissipate their energies against the spending banks, but come right up against the pylon, and therefore the coil, and increase the surge in the harbour.

I understand that a surge as large as 8ft has been measured in the Waveney and Hamilton docks since the pier was reduced in length. Only half that surge—4ft—will be damaging to inshore vessels tied up in Waveney dock, where they are supposed to go when they lose their present berthing sites in Hamilton dock.

The alternative proposals, which have been referred to by the British Transport Docks Board, are that the inshore and middle distance vessels will moor alongside the north side of the Waveney dock, and on the new quay, which will be provided by the filling-in of Hamilton dock. That is totally unsatisfactory. Most of this area will be adjacent to the oil engineering company and, therefore, large oil barges will be operated from this area. I have already referred to the surge. In addition, with an expanding fleet, there will not be sufficient berths left in the port of Lowestoft to berth the present fleet, let alone the expanding fleet. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) has already said, the herring industry is now recovering, and it looks as though the inshore fleet at Lowestoft and most of our ports will expand as the distant water fleet contracts.

I understand that if Hamilton dock is filled in as proposed, the whole of the bunkering system for the fishing fleet will have to be moved. Apparently, there will be no compensation for that and, above all, no consultation. That is my criticism of the docks board. It does not appear to have had much consultation with the people who are vitally involved in the port. From my experience in Hull, it seems to me that the British Transport Docks Board thinks far more of its account books than of local industries or local people. That is wholly wrong. Therefore, it is with some pleasure that I oppose clause 6.

I very much hope that the Committee will take careful note of the objections made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde and myself on behalf of the industry. From many years' experience of the fishing industry, I know that these objections are valid, and I hope they will be met by the Committee.

11.36 pm

:It may assist the House if I intervene at this stage to say something about the Government's attitude towards the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Thornton) has ably explained the provisions in some detail. He referred in particular to the proposal to take powers to fill in the Hamilton dock at Lowestoft and to use the reclaimed land for industrial development. My hon. Friend referred to the benefits this will bring by way of job opportunities, but he also drew attention to some worries about the proposal.

I know that there is concern about the provision of facilities for the fishermen at Lowestoft. The local fishermen are understandably concerned about the loss of their berths if the proposed development goes ahead. The two local vessel owners' associations have petitioned against the Bill. The British Transport Docks Board has offered the fishermen possible alternative berths in the harbour in Waveney dock. I understand that the fishermen feel that there are problems with the effects of wave action in this dock, but the board has undertaken to take steps to deal with this.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has expressed his view that it is important that the fishermen at Lowestoft should continue to have adequate facilities for mooring and berthing their boats, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), whose concern for the interests of fishermen was so well described by my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) in his informative speech, has raised this question with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food because of his close constituency interest.

I also noted with interest the points made in support of the fishermen's interests by my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Sir P. Wall).

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has indicated that he welcomes the initiative taken by the promoters in offering the petitioners an undertaking designed to allay the anxieties of the Lowestoft fishermen and he hopes that this will produce a satisfactory outcome.

Discussions are continuing between the board and the fishing interests. I hope that it will be possible to reach agreement before long.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde also raised the question of the Bill's provisions for developments at Fleetwood. My hon. Friend's speech reflected the concern of local people and the Ramblers Association about the proposed closure of a footpath at Fleetwood and the environmental impact—described so well by my hon. Friend—of the construction of a new berth on a nearby residential neighbourhood. I understand that concern. We must ensure that all these anxieties receive the fullest discussion, as my hon. Friend specified in his speech.

The Government have no objection in principle to the Bill. We recognise, however, that it is both right and important that the provisions of the Bill should be given the most careful consideration, and that where there are currently points of disagreement both sides should have an opportunity to explain their doubts and concerns. The most appropriate place where all those matters can be considered fully is, I suggest, in Committee. In those circumstances it seems to me reasonable that the House should allow the Bill to go forward so that that may be done.

11.40 pm

:I welcome the Minister's remarks, and we look forward to a full scrutiny of the Bill in Committee. However, I wish to put some points on the record tonight.

I recognise fully the concern expressed by my hon. Friends the Members for Haltemprice (Sir P. Wall) and North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) about the quay length and the surge factor in the port. The new quay length that will be available to the fishing fleet because of the development will be similar to that lost by the in-filling of Hamilton dock. However, it is undeniably true that, because of the loss of sheltered facility at Hamilton dock, the new quay will be more susceptible to the surge factor. I can assure the House from my maritime experience, that in a similar development on the North Wales coast extensive technological experiments were conducted and it is perfectly possible and feasible to ensure that facilities are provided which will reduce, if not eliminate, the extensive surge factor which would affect the ships berthed there.

:My hon. Friend said that when Hamilton dock is filled in there will be the same number of berths as at present. Will not the large barges used by oil companies for transporting their erections also be using that dock, which will make it almost impossible for the berthing of fishing vessels?

:Of course they must use the facility, but it will be for about six hours once every 18 months on a Sunday. As someone who has had experience of having to move ships around a dock for other ships to take their place and conduct their proper business, I do not believe that it is unreasonable to expect some small displacement. We all accept the need to protect the existing industry. We should not shut our minds to the fact that there is equally a need to promote new industries. The old can survive with the new and in this Bill we are trying to give those who currently earn their living in the fishing industry in Lowestoft sufficient assurances so that they can continue their work. If there is expansion, as we all hope, the British Transport Docks Board will ensure that there are adequate facilities.

If the record is examined, it will be found that wide consultation has taken place. There is some disagreement about that within the fishing industry in Lowestoft. Again from personal experience, because the board has a successful operation in my constituency and has recently expanded facilities—it is one of the most successful ports in Britain—I can point to the fact that that work took place after the fullest consultation and co-operation with existing port users.

I hope that the House will agree that this matter should properly be considered by a Select Committee. I am confident that in Committee we shall be able to meet the objections raised to the Bill by the petitioners. I am confident that we shall be able to satisfy them and therefore ensure that this most important development is allowed to proceed.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.