HC Deb 16 November 1955 vol 546 cc393-4
10. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many miles of canals and inland waterways are still in active use in Great Britain; and what proportion of this mileage is controlled by the Transport Commission.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

About 1,800 miles are still in commercial use, of which 1,420 miles are controlled by the British Transport Commission.

11. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what tonnage was carried on canals and inland waterways in Great Britain in 1938, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, and to the latest convenient date in 1955, respectively.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the Answer includes a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Johnson

Would my right hon. Friend give the figure for 1938 and 1954?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Certainly. The figures, which will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT, are, for 1938, 12,952,000 tons and, for 1954, 13,253,000 tons.

Following is the answer:

Complete information is not available, but the following tonnages relate to the majority of canals and inland waterways (excluding estuarial rivers and the Manchester Ship Canal):

1938 12,952,000
1948 12,218,000
1950 12,817,000
1951 13,341,000
1952 13,432,000
1953 13,714,000
1954 13,253,000
Up to 11th September, 1955 8,950,000 (estimated).

24. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what recommendations he has now received from the British Transport Commission arising from the Board of Survey Report on canals and inland waterways; and what action he is taking thereon.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I have just received from the Commission, and am considering, its proposals for the develop- ment of those waterways which carry substantial traffic and which the Board of Survey recommended should be improved.

The Commission has also recommended that those waterways which in its view have insufficient commercial prospects to justify their retention for navigation should be transferred to other more suitable bodies. I have informed the Commission that this recommendation requires further study.

Mr. Davies

Will the Minister give this matter his most earnest consideration, in view of the difficulties which confront the Commission today because of the necessity to maintain many derelict waterways and because of the compensation which, in some cases, it is having to pay?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is an extremely difficult and very important problem.

Mr. Ede

Without anticipating the result of the inquiry, will the right hon. Gentleman also inquire how much it costs to deal with abandoned canals?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think that that clearly is a relevant matter.

Commander Agnew

So far as the question of the closing of canals and waterways is concerned, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, painstaking as the Board no doubt was in going about its work, it was set up by the very body, namely, the British Transport Commission, which is responsible for their maintenance and which has not been keeping them all in a state of repair? Will my right hon. Friend consider, therefore, having a more independent inquiry before any action is taken?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think that there is a good deal to be said for that suggestion.