§ 43. Mr. Currie
asked the Minister of Technology what progress is being made in the development of the Hovercraft train; and what contribution his Department is making towards such development.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Mr. Richard Marsh)
My right hon. Friend has nothing to add to his reply on 7th December to his hon. Friends the Members for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) and Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson).
§ Mr. Currie
Does the hon. Gentleman not think that this most remarkable British invention should be developed in the United Kingdom, rather than allowing by default development to take place by our overseas competitors? Can the hon. Gentleman say how this ties up with his party's promises at the last General Election when we were told so much about the technological development which would take place under a Labour Government?
§ Mr. Marsh
I do not think that it is for either the hon. Gentleman or myself to decide whether we have succeeded in that. I am sure that the electorate will do this very convincingly in the very near future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I bet the cheers will not be on that side of the House then. As for this specific Question, there is an important point here. I think it has to be accepted that Hovercraft trains are not the only method of high-speed transport. At the moment we are looking at the development of Hovercraft trains and Hovercraft Development Ltd., the subsidiary of N.R.D.C., is producing a small scale model of this to see what the advantages are. We are also looking at the possibilities for experimental purposes of a man-carrying vehicle. However, one must bear in mind that this is not the only thing which could provide us with high-speed transport.