HC Deb 24 July 1963 vol 681 cc1439-40
15. Mr. P. Browne

asked the Minister of Transport what special steps he is taking to improve road communications to development districts; and, in particular, what additional expenditure he has authorised as the result of the scheduling of the Bideford-Torrington area under the Local Employment Act, 1960.

Mr. Marples

Apart from authorising special programmes which benefit a whole area, as I have done in the North-East, I can make grants or loans under the Local Employment Act, 1960, for roadworks which help stimulate employment and industry in development districts. I have not authorised such expenditure in the Bideford-Torrington area. But I am willing to consider any application that I consider eligible under the Act.

Mr. Browne

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for saying that he will consider applications under the Act. May I inform him that I wish to make some applications? Would not he agree that in principle it is ridiculous for one Ministry to schedule an area as a development district and for his Ministry then to say that the railway line is to be closed? Is not he aware that the criterion on which an industrialist decides whether to go to a particular district is nearly always the adequacy of the communications?

Mr. Marples

That may be so. It is one of the points which will be taken into account before permission is given for a railway line to be closed. That has been said over and over again and I can only repeat it now.

Mr. Wainwright

Does not the Minister realise that there is adanger that while the possibility of a rail closure is in the offing industrialists will not go to a district because they are afraid that the railway line will be closed?

Mr. Marples

In which case it is up to individual Members of Parliament to say that industrialists will not go to a particular district, and give the reason, and we will look at it before the line is closed.