HC Deb 19 July 1944 vol 402 cc178-9
33. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport if he will have a national survey made of all inland waterways, with a view to steps being taken to bring them to the highest state of efficiency, and the abandonment of canals where the cost of restoration or the economic conditions do not warrant their continued use.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

As my answer is rather long I will, with your consent, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, make it at the end of Questions.


Mr. Noel-Baker

The Government are closely examining the future organisation and development of the canals and other inland waterways of the country. The Government desire that means shall be found for making the maximum economic use of inland waterways, and that they shall have their proper place in the general system of inland transport. To this end, they have taken the opportunity afforded by their war-time control to draw upon the knowledge and experience available in the industry, and have consulted representatives of the canal undertakings and of canal carriers about the technical and other problems which must be considered in shaping future policy. Where necessary, they have also consulted, and will continue to consult, the planning authorities who are concerned.

The Government are at present giving special attention to certain engineering projects for the improvement of waterways from the seaports to the Midlands. My Noble Friend is confident that everyone concerned will recognise the, importance of co-operating in these inquiries, and will give him the fullest help. He would be very happy to receive any views on the future of inland water transport which traders and manufacturers may care to lay before him. I must, however, make it clear that the inquiries to which I have referred do not prejudge the Government's decisions on transport policy in general, and that they do not imply any commitment of the Government's financial expenditure.