35. Mr. G. Wilson
asked the Minister of Transport what recent general directions he has given to the British Transport Commission as to the closure of the main line railway services and terminals; and if he will make a statement.
§ 50. Mr. Hayman
asked the Minister of Transport what proposals have been submitted to him in connection with the future of the West Region main line railway west of Plymouth.
Is my hon. Friend aware of persistent rumours that there is about to be a closure at Plymouth? Does his Answer include a categorical denial that there is any foundation for that? Can he give an assurance that, should there be any proposals which would affect main lines, the parties interested would have ample opportunties for consultation before any action was taken?
§ Mr. Hay
Yes, Sir. The rumours to which my hon. Friend has referred have been somewhat persistent in the West Country and I am very glad to have the opportunity of denying them. For the future, if in fact any proposals of this kind were made, the Transport Bill at present before Parliament contains a new procedure for dealing with matters of public interest in connection with the withdrawal of services.
§ Mr. Hayman
Will the Parliamentary Secretary go further than that and give an absolute assurance that under no circumstances will his right hon. Friend agree to any proposal to close the line west of Plymouth, in this generation at least?
§ Dame Irene Ward
Is this little mouse the answer which my right hon. Friend, as has been freely stated in the Press, is supposed to be giving? Is he aware that these persistent rumours have a very serious effect on property and that it causes great anxiety to masses of people not to know what their future is to be? When are we to have a proper statement, either from my right hon. Friend or from Dr. Beeching, as to exactly what is to be done about our railway services?
§ Mr. Hay
I am very glad to have had the opportunity today to deny a particular rumour which has been circulating. As to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, we have made it clear on a number of occasions that until the traffic studies which Dr. Beeching is carrying out are completed no final decisions or statements can be expected.
§ Mr. Strauss
Would not the most satisfactory statement which the Minister could make be one which suggested that profitability should not be the main or only consideration in closing branch lines, but that public service should also be a factor taken into account?