HC Deb 20 December 1961 vol 651 cc1358-9
37. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to obtain from local authorities in the areas served by uneconomic branch lines estimates of future building developments in those areas before proposals to close those lines are made.

Mr. Marples

No, Sir. I understand that, before submitting closure proposals, the Commission takes full account of any known prospective developments in the area. All proposals to close railway branch lines are referred to the appropriate 'Transport Users' Consultative Committee, and local authorities thus have opportunities to draw attention to future developments when closures are being considered.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not enough to give the Transport Users' Consultative Committee this information or the chance to present its point of view? Is it not an integral part of planning that the transport system should be further developed in areas where building development is taking place, as is happening, for instance, on the Blackburn-Hellifield line, which the Transport Commission is proposing to close, although it affects an area of future development? Will the right hon. Gentleman give a general direction that future development must be borne in mind by the Commission before it makes closure proposals?

Mr. Marples

I thought that the hon. Lady would have that line in mind and I asked the Commission for information, knowing how keen she is about it. I understand that the Commission considers future developments before submitting proposals for the withdrawal of its services, and that such development was taken into account in this case.

Mr. J. Hynd

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied about the power and the part which consultative committees can play in matters of this kind? Whilst the interests of the travelling public they are intended to represent are concerned, wider interests are also involved in the closing of these services. Is not too much being made of these committees in regard to that aspect?

Mr. Marples

That may be so. We have proposals before the House in Committee upstairs about this matter, but so far we have reached, after five meetings of the Standing Committee, only Clause 1. When we do come to the Clause dealing with these Committees, no doubt we will examine the matter carefully.

Forward to