HC Deb 27 April 1955 vol 540 cc939-41
67. Mr. H. Fraser

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the total canal mileage in Staffordshire; and how much of this the British Transport Commission has recommended to him should be closed down.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

About 260 miles, of which some 26 miles are closed to navigation. The British Transport Commission Bill now before Parliament proposes to close a further eight miles. It has made no recommendation to me for any further closures.

68. Mr. H. Fraser

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will give an assurance that he will refrain from making any order closing a canal as a result of the recommendations of the British Transport Commission, until these recommendations have been debated by Parliament.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir. Parliament has itself laid down a statutory procedure for the protection of all interests concerned in such a case, and I do not think it is for me to alter them.

69. Air Commodore Harvey

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will reconsider his decision to close the Macclesfield Canal, in view of the amenities it offers to anglers and boating societies.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I have made no such decision as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend impress upon the British Transport Commission that it should look at this matter from an entirely different angle, because thousands of people derive pleasure from these canals, and can he say whether the Commission ever thought of selling licences on a national basis in a way similar to that operated in New Zealand? Will my right hon. Friend look into the matter to see if something can be done to enable these places to remain open on a commercial basis?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

All these points can be considered. All that has happened so far is that a board of survey has reported to the Transport Commission about the value of its canals for transport purposes.

Mr. Jack Jones

Does the Minister appreciate that there are documents in this House bearing 45,000 signatures of people from this area protesting against the intentions of this body, and will he do something to see that the canals are kept open? This Government, like any other Government, want contented workpeople, and angling creates content.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The only question that has arisen so far is that the Commission has been advised by the board of survey as to the value of its canals for transport purposes. No decision beyond that has been taken.