HC Deb 12 February 1964 vol 689 cc373-5
38. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Transport in what form, printed or otherwise, he receives reports from transport users' consultative committees on hardship.

Mr. Marples

The reports are in typescript.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that members of the public, including passengers on the railways, know how to submit evidence of hardship to the T.U.C.C.s for onward transmission to him? Can he delicately point out to the committees and to British Railways that it is not very tactful, when intimating that the closure of a station is intended, to send this in an envelope franked, "Be sure to go by train"?

Mr. Marples

I do not suppose they franked the envelopes. I do not know of anyone wishing to give evidence before a T.U.C.C. who was, as it were, backward in coming forward to give evidence or was incapable of giving such evidence. People have always been eloquent and comprehensive in giving evidence before a T.U.C.C. and this evidence is taken into full account.

Sir J. Duncan

Will my right hon. Friend publish those reports when he receives them, so that they will be available to any objectors?

Mr. Marples

No. The T.U.C.C.s have their own procedure and prefer that their reports should remain confidential, but some committees indicate in broad terms in statements to the Press the extent to which they have found hardship.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Can anything be done to speed up the hearings, as delay is causing great hardship and inconvenience and the property is depreciating in value? Can my right hon. Friend also do something to reduce the expense caused to local authorities, which amounts to considerable sums?

Mr. Marples

As the committees are independent statutory bodies not subject to interference by the Minister, it is extremely difficult to do anything about that, but I shall call the attention of the committees to the remarks made by my hon. Friend.

Sir J. Duncan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I put a supplementary question and the Minister did not answer it.

Mr. Speaker

No. Sometimes they do not. Mr. Mellish.

Mr. Mellish

May I ask a question following the point made by the Minister about these reports not being made public? Why should we not be allowed to know why a line is closed and why a committee came to its conclusions?

Mr. Marples

The whole idea of the T.U.C.C. consideration is that users of transport can express their difficulties fully, frankly and informally. The T.U.C.C.s have decided for themselves that they would prefer this sort of procedure.