HC Deb 14 November 1966 vol 736 cc12-3
18. Mr. Carol Johnson

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources what action he has taken in connection with the preparation of comprehensive plans for the future of rivers and canals envisaged in paragraphs 32 to 38 of the White Paper Leisure in the Countryside, Command Paper No. 2928;and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Skeffington

The full implementation of these proposals must largely await legislation. Meanwhile my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is carrying out consultations with the British Waterways Board, the regional economic planning councils, local authorities and other appropriate national and regional bodies to establish the facts on which comprehensive plans for the future of the nationalised inland waterways must be based. My right hon. Friend is kept fully informed of the progress of these consultations.

Mr. Johnson

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is great disappointment in many quarters at the slow progress which is being made in working out a long-term and comprehensive policy for our inland waterways? To what extent was his right hon. Friend consulted about the paragraphs in the White Paper with their quite inadequate proposals for the future of the inland waterways?

Mr. Skeffington

I assure my hon. Friend that there were adequate consultations and, indeed, that very considerable progress has been made. The fact is that there are always one or two elements which are rather late in coming in and that the picture cannot be completed until their replies have been included. More progress is being made than perhaps appears.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will my hon. Friend keep in mind also the recommendations of the Countryside in 1970 Conference, which paid great attention to the importance of canals and riverways for recreation purposes?

Mr. Skeffington

Yes, indeed. My right hon. Friend has reported the very successful experiments which are being conducted on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. This is something which is very much engaging his attention in working out future legislation and plans.