HC Deb 17 July 1957 vol 573 cc1141-2
45. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is yet able to say when the Bowes Committee on canals and inland waterways will report.

Mr. Nugent

I cannot yet add to my right hon. Friend's answer of 5th June to the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams).

Mr. MacPherson

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that where canals run through built-up areas the risk of drowning accidents continues to be high? Will he have in mind the desirability of trying to have this matter dealt with as quickly as possible?

Mr. Grant-Ferris

Is it not a fact that the work of this Committee has proved much more difficult and long drawn out than first expected? As everybody hopes that something lasting will come from it, would it not be much better that the Committee should not spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar?

Mr. Nugent

The Committee is very well aware of the points raised by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson). The Committee has visited most of the canals and will give its report as soon as it can.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Is this situation not becoming really farcical? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this Committee was set up a year ago to consider a matter where all the facts were known and it was generally agreed that urgent action was necessary? We do not know when the Committee will report, and it probably will take a year before action is taken, during which time there will be most serious consequences. Do not the Government realise their responsibility in this matter? Ought they not to do something quickly?

Mr. Nugent

We feel that we should give the Committee a chance to make its report. It has received evidence from a hundred bodies and has visited most of the canals in the country. It is a big undertaking. The Committee is now preparing its report, which will be presented to us as soon as. possible.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Would it not be possible for the Committee to be asked to publish an interim report dealing specifically with the unused canals which are retarding the development of so many industrial areas in the North of England?

Mr. Nugent

That suggestion has been considered, but they must be asked to make one complete report.