HC Deb 08 May 1940 vol 360 cc1209-10
23 Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Transport whether he can make a statement on what action is being taken to prepare a comprehensive scheme of national and local transport to meet the needs that may arise at any time;

(2) whether he can now make a statement on the steps that have been taken, or are proposed, in order to increase the use made of the canals and waterways of the country;

(3) whether he has considered the relief that could be made on the volume of traffic carried by the railways by the organisation of more water-borne traffic from Manchester, Whitehaven and other places to the South by the Irish Sea, and, if so, with what result?

Captain Wallace

As part of the war organisation of the Ministry of Transport, arrangements have been made for the rapid transfer of road vehicles, no less than railway rolling stock, to any part of the country where special emergency needs may arise. Discussions have recently taken place with the Road Transport (Defence) Advisory Committee in order to see whether the arrangements for the operation of road vehicles in an emergency can be improved. With a view to ensuring to the fullest extent the efficient organisation of all transport facilities in time of war (including coastwise shipping), I have asked the Transport Advisory Council to make a further examination of the arrangements already made. I am hoping to receive their report at an early date.

Sir Joseph Nall

In regard to Question 23, may I ask whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will avoid making any unnecessary and expensive arrangements in view of the mobility of road transport?

Captain Wallace

Mobility is one of the great advantages of road transport and I shall certainly do nothing to impair it.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Is it not of great importance to complete the orbital road which was devised many years ago in order to short-circuit the traffic coming through London from the Midlands to the East side and to the Thames side?

Captain Wallace

We have a definite policy as regards continuing with road schemes. They are being continued where military needs require it; in other cases we are bound to think of the cost.

Sir F. Fremantle

In this case is it not of vital importance, for military and other purposes, to get this road finished?

Captain Wallace

No, Sir, our inquiries do not show that at present.