HC Deb 04 December 1963 vol 685 cc1143-4
28. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Transport what machinery exists for coordination between the Secretary of State for Scotland and himself on railway closure policy.

Mr. Marples

The machinery is the normal one of direct consultation between Departments. I also consult my right hon. Friend on every proposed rail passenger closure in Scotland individually.

Mr. Lawson

Does the Minister realise that some of us examining what is happening in Scotland in this connection find it difficult to believe that there is any machinery at all? For example, three new towns are being completely deprived of any kind of rail transport. Does it not make nonsense of the kind of policy which the Secretary of State for Scotland is supposed to be pursuing if the Minister's Department appears to be cutting his right hon. Friend's feet from under him?

Mr. Marples

The hon. Gentleman is making a lot of assumptions which cannot be justified. The Question asks what machinery exists for co-ordination between the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself. I can give the hon. Gentleman my personal assurance that I see my right hon. Friend on every single individual closure and consult with him.

Mr. Manuel

But does not the Minister understand that we find it very difficult to think that any real co-ordination exists when the Secretary of State has promised to set up a Scottish Transport Board to advise him about contemplated closures and, before the membership of that Board is even selected, closures are going on without its recommendations being submitted to the Secretary of State? This is really quite wrong, since the Secretary of State has committed himself to having such reports before he takes action.

Mr. Marples

The closures are only proposed. I repeat that there is this consultation, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who is generous in all matters, will accept my word in this respect.