§ 25 Mr. David Mitchell
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will make a statement on the latest position regarding containerisation in the London Docks, Thames Estuary and the associated area.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
The removal of the T. & G.W.U. ban on the operation of new specialised terminals in London, including No. 39 container terminal at Tilbury, continues to be linked, in the union's view, with progress on the second stage of the Devlin modernisation programme in the port. The outcome of the key negotiations for the Enclosed Docks depends upon a ballot of its members now being arranged by the union on the employers' offer.
§ Mr. Mitchell
Is the Minister aware that this dispute has been going on since March of this year, that over £3 million of investment is lying idle, and that about £2 million of foreign exchange has been lost by it? Does he not think that his Ministry has been somewhat dilatory in dealing with the dispute?
§ Mr. Walker
I can tell the hon. Gentleman, who has taken a very keen interest in the case, that what he says is contrary to the truth. We have been continuously involved but, as we have reached a crucial stage when preparations for a ballot are in hand, I hope that hon. Gentlemen will not press me or put me in a position where I might say something that might prejudice the outcome of that ballot.