HC Deb 04 May 1955 vol 540 cc1683-5
44. Major Wall

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what recommendations calling for Government action have been made to him by the British Transport Commission as a result of the recent Report by the Board of Survey on Canals and Inland Waterways; which of these recommendations have been accepted; what reply he has made to the Commission; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

None, Sir. The remaining parts of the Question do not, therefore, arise.

Major Wall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this report has been received by a very large number of people with alarm and despondency? Will he give an undertaking that the matter will be debated in the House before any action is taken?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

However true the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's supplementary question may be, no recommendations have as yet been made to me. It is, therefore, too early to say anything more.

Mr. Warbey

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear, in mind that the report is very inadequate, owing to the fact that the Board was unable to take into account the possibility either of a large capital scheme of modernisation or of a compulsory diversion of traffic from congested roads to waterways? Will the Government—if they ever get the opportunity—institute a survey covering these two possibilities?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I should not like it to be thought that I accept the hon. Gentleman's criticisms of the Board of Survey, which conscientiously did the job it was set to do. So far as the further points he raises are concerned, the matter has not yet been put by the Commission to me, and I must leave it there.

Mr. Brockway

When these recommendations do reach the Minister will he consider them not only from the point of view of commercial navigation but of the amenities to anglers, hikers and those who use the canals for pleasure?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Any question of abandonment involves Parliamentary procedure in one way or another. Therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman can be quite sure that the admirable interests of the people to whom he refers will be adequately protected.

Mr. Popplewell

Can the Minister assure the House that if these canals are kept open for anglers, hikers, and others who use the canals for pleasure, they will not be a charge upon the British Transport Commission?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not think that angling is a transport activity.