HC Deb 27 January 1960 vol 616 cc154-6
29. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the recommendations of the London Travel Committee for the construction of a new tube from Victoria to north-east London, he will not approve this project and announce a date for the work to be commenced.

41. Mr. Redhead

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the Report of the London Travel Committee, he will now give approval for the construction of the Victoria Line and take all necessary steps to expedite the work.

42. Mr. J. Harvey

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has noted the Report of the London Travel Committee recommending the construction of the Victoria Line; what action he proposes to take; and whether he will make a statement.

46. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now authorise the building of the new tube from Victoria, in view of the Report of the London Travel Committee.

47. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the Report by the London Travel Committee on the Victoria Line.

Mr. Marples

I hope to be able to make a statement soon.

Mr. Fletcher

I am sure everybody in the House hopes that the Minister will be able very soon to announce that he is to authorise the commencement of this new tube. He and his predecessor hitherto have delayed the answer and have said, "We are awaiting the recommendation of this Committee", which has now authoritatively pronounced in favour of it. Will he bear in mind that this is the only solution of the appalling congestion on the roads in north-east London?

Mr. Marples

The Report was published just before Christmas. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is being studied very earnestly.

Mr. Redhead

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in his further consideration of this matter, to take due account of the urgency which has been stressed about it not only by the British Transport Commission but by all the local authorities which are concerned in the area which will be served and now by his own independent Committee, the London Travel Committee? Will he be good enough to give an assurance of the utmost expedititon in making an early statement?

Mr. Marples

I shall really try to come to a decision as quickly as possible. All the considerations which have been put forward by all the local authorities and the various bodies mentioned will be taken into account.

Mr. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that hundreds of thousands of people in north-east London are waiting for this decision and are hoping that it will be a favourable one, and also will he bear in mind that the construction of this line will not only add enormously to the travel facilities in the areas it is intended to serve but should help to make traffic much easier on certain other lines, such as the Central Line, which is already grossly overcrowded?

Mr. Marples

Yes, I will certainly bear that in mind. I agree that the Central Line is now greatly overcrowded. All these questions will be taken into consideration. I am bound to say that unless this country has an efficient public transport system it is clear that it will be overwhelmed by the number of cars.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he keeps on telling us that something must be done and that an announcement will be made soon, but that in the meantime nothing is done and that we still do not know what is to happen about the future of London traffic, to the easement of which this tube may make a very necessary and desirable contribution? Will he really concentrate on the matter of this tube mentioned in the Question, and give us an undertaking that at least we shall know something about it before his effigy appears at Madame Tussaud's?

Mr. Marples

All I can say is that the Report was published less than a month ago, and I think that the hon. Gentleman is being unreasonable if he expects a decision in less time than that.

Mr. Albu

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is the third Report to come to exactly the same conclusion? Is he now saying that in his Department they have no plans for dealing with a situation which has been foreseen for so long?

Mr. Marples

Consideration is taking place of the Report which has recently been published.

Mr. Mellish

On the assumption that when this tube is approved it will be built and operated by the British Transport Commission, may we have an assurance that when the right hon. Gentleman makes his statement he will make it quite clear that the financial burden of this necessary tube will not be of such a character as to make the Commission's finances even worse than they are at the moment?

Mr. Marples

One of the difficulties about the tube, which will be a great boon, is that it is expected to make a heavy annual loss. This is something which has to be taken into account.