HC Deb 20 December 1961 vol 651 cc1353-4
42. Mr. Lindsay

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to be in a position to make a further statement about the proposed Channel Tunnel or Bridge.

47. Mr. Teeling

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will give details of the machinery which has been set up for the examination of the Channel Tunnel project and whether he will give an assurance that basic principles will be dealt with in the first place, so that an early decision thereon can be given.

Mr. Marples

As I explained on 22nd November, a joint official study of both the proposals now before the British and French Governments is being undertaken. All relevant aspects of those proposals will need to be examined and I cannot say when this work will be completed. I am confident, however, that, under the arrangements which have been agreed, early attention will be given to the basic questions on which the Governments' eventual decision must depend.

Mr. Lindsay

Will my right hon. Friend hear in mind the great importance of getting an early decision in view of the material difference a bridge or tunnel will make to our competitive power when we get into the Common Market?

Mr. Marples

Yes, Sir. But the proposal for a Channel bridge was received only in October, 1961, so there is a great deal of work to be done on it.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that many of us, and large numbers of people outside, believe that large-scale capital expenditure of this kind should not be undertaken until the urgent needs of our own people have been dealt with?

Mr. Marples

We propose to study the problem. It raises technical, financial and economic questions, as well as international considerations. The hon. Gentleman's point will certainly be borne in mind.

Mr. Costain

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that development at Folkestone is being held up pending decision on a tunnel?

Mr. Marples

That is why we will try to get on as quickly as we can, but we must examine the problem thoroughly.

Dr. King

Will the Minister arrange for an exhibition in the House of Commons in the New Year of the excellent models prepared by the B.T.C. for a two-way tunnel on the principle of a moving stream of traffic?

Mr. Marples

I should like to consider that, but it would be very difficult if as Minister I had an exhibition of a tunnel and not of a bridge. Otherwise I should be in great difficulty and I know that the hon. Member would not like that.

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