HC Deb 23 November 1966 vol 736 cc1367-8
3. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Transport how many British Railways workshops are now disused; and whether she will give a general direction, in the public interest, to British Railways to bring them into productive use.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Morris)

Twenty-two workshops of various sizes have been closed since 1962, because they were surplus to the current needs of British Railways. Their policy is to sell them or adapt them to a new railway use. A general direction is unnecessary.

Mrs. Short

Is my hon. Friend aware that the railway workshop in my constituency was one of the first to be closed by the party opposite when in office? It is now standing empty and derelict, and it is ugly. Is it not time that some productive use was made of the building in the national interest? Will my hon. Friend look at the matter again?

Mr. Morris

I know of the workshop to which my hon. Friend refers. It was closed on 30th June, 1964, and there has been a two-year delay in selling it, because the developer had to get planning consent, and there were difficulties about access, because part of his plan was to let it in sections. However, I understand that he has now exchanged contracts of sale with B.R.B.

Mr. Harold Walker

In the light of the economic situation, will my hon. Friend consider having consultations with the British Railways Board, in anticipation of the legislation which the Minister has promised, to ensure that the existing capacity of the workshops is utilised fully in manufacturing for their own internal needs, thus releasing private manufacturing resources for production elsewhere?

Mr. Morris

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend's aim is to ensure that British Railways make the best use of an important and valuable asset. In giving her approval to British Railways investment projects, my right hon. Friend will do her best to ensure a steady flow of work for the railway workshops.