§ Mr. Peter Fraser
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the National Ports Council.
§ Mr. Fowler
I have examined the activities and functions of the National Ports Council. Is has brought about considerable improvements over the years, but much remains to be done. I have concluded that the council, whose annual cost to the ports exceeds £1 million, will not be able to achieve the further improvements in the efficiency of the ports which the country needs. I have therefore concluded that the council should be654W wound up, and that responsibility for the efficiency of the ports industry must now be put firmly on the ports themselves.
I am consulting the British Ports Association, the port users and others concerned about the means of discharging those functions of the council which still need to be carried out.
The legislation, which I shall introduce as soon as I am satisfied with the industry's arrangements for improving its efficiency and productivity, will include any necessary provision for NPC staff whose functions will be discontinued. I would like to pay tribute to all those who have served as members and staff of the council.