HC Deb 18 February 1963 vol 672 cc15-6
24. Mr. W. T. Rodgers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what steps are being taken to assess the relative advantages of providing improved rail services in the North-East area and of providing advance factories for permanent employment in isolated communities.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

My noble Friend attaches great importance to the provision of good communications of all types within the North-Eastern area, and accepts the value of the provision of advance factories in suitable places, but he regards these policies as complementary and not as alternatives and cannot therefore assess their relative advantages.

Mr. Rodgers

It is good to hear they are regarded as complementary; it is very much the case. But surely the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that it is very foolish at a time when we want to improve communications in the area and when the arrival of new industries in the area is dependent upon these there should be proposals to close down railway lines, when the main purpose of the present time should be to improve rail communications, especially in the growth areas? Will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that a proper survey will be carried out to show the future needs for railways and that decisions about closing them down will not be simply based upon present traffic which is available for them?

Mr. Freeth

Of course, British Railways' comprehensive proposals for reshaping the railway system will not be available for some time yet and, therefore, the Government do not know what further closures may be proposed. I can, however, tell the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has set up an inter-Departmental Working Party to study the impact of these proposals when it receives them.