HC Deb 09 February 1966 vol 724 cc375-7
32. Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Transport if she will now state the Government's policy for the coordination of transport services in the national interest, and give details of the future rôle envisaged for the railways.

41. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Minister of Transport if she will make a statement on the Government's policy on the coordination of transport services.

67. Mr. Ioan L. Evans

asked the Minister of Transport what action she will take to ensure the greater use of the railway system as a part of a general policy to co-ordinate the nation's transport services.

109. Mr. Ron Lewis

asked the Minister of Transport what progress she has made regarding an integrated transport policy; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Castle

I will publish my proposals for integrating the transport services of the country as soon as I have completed my review of the whole field of transport policy.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the satisfaction among her hon. Friends which greeted her arrival at the Ministry of Transport and that we wish her every possible success? We perfectly appreciate that this is a long and complicated business, but we have waited some time since the election. Can she give an indication of when her studies will be completed?

Mrs. Castle

I thank my hon. Friend for his good wishes. I appreciate the desire to see the White Paper that I have promised to the House. I am pressing ahead with it as a matter of the utmost urgency. I can only say that I shall produce it as soon as I can.

Mr. Campbell

Before the right hon. Lady completes her studies, will she bear in mind the serious deterioration in transport in the last four months in a substantial area of Scotland as a result of a policy which can best be described as disintegration?

Mrs. Castle

I do not know to what detailed situation the hon. Gentleman is referring, but I rather suspect that he is talking about some of the "Marples martyrs".

Mr. Evans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the nation's transport difficulties go back largely to the doctrinaire action of the party opposite in denationalising road transport in 1953?

Mrs. Castle

I agree with my hon. Friend that the principles on which public transport was supposed to operate under the 1962 Act do not make any kind of economic or social sense. This is why I want time to look at the question.

Sir M. Redmayne

Would the right hon. Lady accept that, in so far as this is a study of the practicability of Labour dogma, we do not mind how long she takes?

Mrs. Castle

I am sure that, when the White Paper is produced, even the right hon. Gentleman will have to agree with its irrefutable logic.

Mr. Manuel

Will my right hon. Friend recognise that, although the House fully understands that she is labouring under the difficulties laid down by the Transport Act, 1962, we have special difficulties in Scotland where major rail closures—I emphasise the words "major rail closures"—are listed to take place in the near future? Will she, therefore, publish her plan for integration at a very early date?

Mrs. Castle

I have said that I shall do so as soon as humanly possible. In the meantime, I shall continue the policy of my right hon. Friend, my predecessor in this job, of not authorising any major rail closures which, after consideration by the Regional Economic Councils, conflict with economic plans. I must be guided by their advice, and I shall be.