HC Deb 06 March 1963 vol 673 cc367-8
23. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Transport what instructions he has given to the teams at present analysing the problems of rural transport; and whether they are taking evidence from local authorities and county organisations interested in these problems.

Mr. Hay

The surveys we have set on foot are detailed factual studies. Information will come mainly from house-to-house canvassing. There is no question of taking evidence in a general sense, but local authorities and other organisations are giving valuable help in providing some of the facts we want.

Sir J. Maitland

Can my hon. Friend ensure that this fact is known to the local authorities concerned, because I am informed that certain rural district councils and so on have not had an opportunity to get into official touch with the people who are carrying out such an important job?

Mr. Hay

I am sure that the exchange of Questions and Answers this afternoon will be reported in the local authority journals and the Press. Any local authority which has any question or point to raise about this should be advised to get in touch with my right hon. Friend's Ministry.

Mr. Watkins

What new evidence can the hon. Gentleman hope to obtain from mid-Wales about rural transport when the Jack Committee itself visited the area and there has been a special report by a panel of the Council for Wales on rural transport in Wales—in the very place where the survey in now taking place?

Mr. Hay

The point is that the surveys are intended to collect information about actual journeys carried out by individuals, the way in which they travel and the purpose for which they travel. Generally speaking, the terms of reference were set out in the reply that my right hon. Friend gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) on 27th November last, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman would have a look at that.

Mr. Webster

Would not the quickest way of assisting rural transport be to reduce the fuel oil tax?

Mr. Hay

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Popplewell

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary realise that both the House and the country as a whole will look upon his reply as merely another delaying tactic? He has had the Jack Report and another recent report on the transport needs of Great Britain in the next 20 years. The facts are pretty well known. Is not this just another excuse for taking absolutely no action? Will he not vitalise his Department and realise the pressing needs of rural transport?

Mr. Hay

No, Sir; it is not just an excuse for failing to take action. The purpose is to give us some detailed information of a kind that we must have before we can decide what is the right policy to adopt in respect of rural transport as a whole.