HC Deb 28 November 1928 vol 223 cc418-9

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in 1918 the Ministry of Reconstruction, with other Departments of State, examined various proposals and schemes for the construction of a ship canal between the Forth and the Clyde, and came to the conclusion that the estimates of the cost of constructing such a canal could not be tested until a detailed geological survey of the route had been carried out; and whether he proposes, in view of the importance of a thorough examination of these projects in the national interest, to take steps to secure such a geological survey?

The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)

I have been asked to reply. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on the 26th November in connection with the same matter, in which I indicated that it is for the advocates of the canal to make any necessary survey of the nature referred to if they consider that any useful purpose would be served thereby. In view, however, of the circumstances explained in the answer given on the 12th November by the Prime Minister to a question on the subject asked by the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Couper), I could not recommend that any assistance should be given out of public funds towards the cost of any such survey.


Is it the considered opinion of the Government that it is in the national interest that individuals who favour this scheme should make the geological survey at their own charge? Is that the answer?

Colonel ASHLEY

No, because I am not satisfied that the enormous sum, which may be £40,000,000 or £50,000,000, and which has been estimated by several firms and by several individuals, would be justified by the very small return.


May I ask whether the cost of the survey in order to find out the cost of the scheme ought not to be undertaken by the Government?

Colonel ASHLEY

Even if the survey was made, you could not do the job under £40,000,000 or £50,000,000.


In view of the fact that there are 57,000 registered unemployed in Glasgow, does my right hon. and gallant Friend not think that it calls for more immediate and more sympathetic consideration?

Colonel ASHLEY

I think that there are probably many better ways of giving relief to the unemployed than this.


What are they?


Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say that he cannot tell what the cost is without a geological survey, but that it is from £40,000,000 to £50,000,000, and that consequently the scheme cannot be undertaken? Does he say both things?

Colonel ASHLEY

Anyhow, the cost as Tar as it can be estimated will be £40,000,000 or £50,000,000, but no doubt a geological survey would enable a more accurate estimate to be made.