HC Deb 27 February 1963 vol 672 cc1244-5
26. Sir E. Errington

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will exercise his powers under Section 27 (7) of the Transport Act, 1962, to obtain from the British Railway boards the mileage of disused lines in each region at the vesting date; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry, of Transport (Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett)

No, Sir. But if the hon. Member writes to the British Railways Board, it will give him such information as is available.

Sir E. Errington

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say "No" because he considers this to be a day-to-day matter with which he will not deal, or because he thinks that it is not important enough for a special request to be made?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

The normal practice in the past has been not to answer a Question seeking to obtain information from a nationalised board on matters of day-to-day administration, except when it raises matters of urgent public importance. I think my hon. Friend will agree that the information for which he has asked in this Question is hardly included in the category of urgency.

Sir F. Markham

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that this is not a question of day-to-day administration? This is a question of specific information. The information ought to be given to the House and not in private correspondence.

Mr. Popplewell

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman look at this again? Surely this is not a question of day-to-day administration. This is a question of national importance. What is required is that the nation should be informed of the extent to which these closures have taken place. They are an accomplished fact, and surely there is nothing to be gained by the Ministry hiding the facts with this secrecy. Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman have another look at this point and publish the information necessary to enable us to reassess the transport situation and its development?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I will bear in mind what hon. Members have said. But I must point out that the question of how much of the railway network is not in regular use is a matter for the railway management.

Sir E. Errington

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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