§ 2.35 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what decision they have reached about further studies of the MIDAS proposal put forward by the National Ports Council in autumn, 1966.]
My Lords, it has been decided not to proceed with the cost/benefit study of MIDAS which was to have been carried out by a team at Queen Mary College, London. Instead we will conduct a more limited investigation of the likely long-term needs of 1254 bulk-processing industries for coastal sites adjacent to deep water. This study will be carried out by officials who will be consulting the industries concerned and such outside professional advice as may be necessary. The National Ports Council have agreed to assist.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for that reply, which repeats a Press statement that was issued the other day. May I ask him, first, how long this study is to take, having regard to the fact that the matter has been under discussion now for more than four years; and secondly, what are the terms of reference? I should like to know also whether specific sites will be considered and examined, and what industries will be consulted.
My Lords, my noble friend has asked how long the study will take. It is difficult to say, but work upon it is to start immediately and the preliminary results, at least, should be available by the end of the year. This is an inter-departmental inquiry which will be supported by the National Ports Council, and they will take into account the views of many organisations. It is not specifically designed for any one specific area.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, does the noble Earl's first Answer indicate that Her Majesty's Government do not regard a cost/benefit analysis as utterly reliable?
§ THE EARL, OF LAUDERDALE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether the time has now come to publish the Halcrow Report, or at least to make it available to merchant banks and industrial and trade associations that may be interested, from the private enterprise point of view, in developing maritime industrial development areas?
My Lords, the Halcrow Report was produced as a result of action by the National Ports Council and the Ministry of Transport. It has not been the practice to publish such reports, but I will certainly draw the attention of my right honourable friend to the noble Earl's suggestion.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
My Lords, when the Government give the go-ahead for Foulness airport, will they bear in mind that the local planning authority is in favour of a minor seaport adjoining Foulness, but not in favour of a major seaport of the kind known as MIDAS?
My Lords, the noble Lord's question is bound to be hypothetical, but should it be found to be practical, I am sure that the appropriate authorities will take account of the noble Lord's views.