HC Deb 06 May 1964 vol 694 cc1258-9
7. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction, in the public interest, to the Railways Board not to lift the rails of any branch or main railway line until a comprehensive report about Great Britain's present and future transport needs has been presented to Parliament.

Mr. Galbraith

No, Sir.

Mr. Spriggs

Would the hon. Gentleman reconsider his reply, as the Conservative Party had no mandate at the last General Election to carry out this policy? As a comprehensive report has been called for, would it not be wiser to wait until it has been submitted to the House before these lines—very important lines in some instances—are lifted?

Mr. Galbraith

It may help the hon. Gentleman when I tell him that in six cases where my right hon. Friend has given consent to close the line he has asked the railways to inform him before the track is lifted. I think that is adequate protection.

Mr. Strauss

Does that mean that the Minister will, if necessary, tell the railways that they must not lift the tracks if they think there is a possibility that in future the line may be needed?

Mr. Galbraith

I think that we should have to wait and see what the case was. What this does is to prevent the railways from doing it without informing my right hon. Friend, and then my right hon. Friend, in the particular circumstances of the case, could consider what, if anything, was the right thing to do.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would my hon. Friend agree that the Government have always had a mandate to try to make the railways and the whole transport system pay, as is laid down in the Transport Acts, and if it is clearly proved beyond doubt that a branch line does not pay and will never pay, is it not sensible to sell the line?

Mr. Galbraith

That is what the Railways Board is trying to do.

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