HC Deb 15 June 1955 vol 542 cc581-2
37. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what arrangements he is making for a thorough and impartial inquiry, with opportunity for interested parties to give evidence, before Parliament is asked to approve the proposals made to him for abandoning the Kennet and Avon Canal for navigational purposes.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

None, Sir. Such proposals have not in fact been made to me, but may, I understand, be included in the British Transport Commissions next Bill. If this is so, interested parties will have the full opportunity to give evidence and put forward their point of view which is given by the Private Bill procedure both of this House and of another place.

Mr. Hurd

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that time then will be short? Does he not appreciate that the Transport Commission is now deliberately neglecting the responsibilities placed on it by Parliament in that the Kennet and Avon Canal has been allowed to fall into worse disrepair week by week, thereby prejudicing its future use? Will my right hon. Friend, therefore, please take an early opportunity of having a full and thorough inquiry into this matter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I cannot accept my hon. Friend's suggestion that there has been any neglect by the Transport Commission of its duties with regard to this canal. If the procedure which I have indicated may take place is followed, there will be the full investigation which, as my hon. Friend knows, is possible under the procedure very carefully laid down by Parliament for dealing with this class of matter.

Mr. Leather

Is my right hon. Friend aware that recently the Transport Commission quite deliberately had certain important equipment removed from the canal to strengthen the Commission's case that it could not be kept open and to prevent people using it?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I really do not accept my hon. Friend's suggestion that in handling this matter any such subterfuge as he has suggested has been adopted. It is possible to differ as a matter of opinion on the very difficult matter of the use of this or other canals but my hon. Friend must be quite clear that no action of that sort is, or would be, contemplated.