HC Deb 15 June 1955 vol 542 cc577-8
23. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission that canal traffic shall be encouraged especially for carrying petrol oil and explosives.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir.

Mr. Davies

Is the Minister aware that the brevity of that answer almost overwhelms me? Realising that Britain has more cars to the mile than any other country in the world, may I ask the Minister when he and his Department are going to work out an intelligent policy which will mean we can use all the assets of these canals rather than leave them as the ugly duckling of transport?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is quite a different Question from the one put on the Order Paper by the hon. Gentleman. What he asked me to do was to give a general direction to the Transport Commission on a matter which is essentially for its commercial judgment and good sense, and it would be a direction that would be particularly unfortunate to give in view of the fact that both commodities he mentioned are not, in fact, carried in the Commission's own fleet.

Mr. Leather

If private interests wish to take these canals over to prevent them from being closed down will they be allowed the opportunity?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am not going to accept an offer of that sort without knowing the exact terms.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister represent to the Transport Commission that the proper economic development of our inland waterways is a most important national economic interest?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is quite unnecessary to represent that to the Commission because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, it has been giving very close study to that subject during the last few months.