HC Deb 05 April 1967 vol 744 cc216-8
9. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the machinery of consultation between his Department and the Ministry of Transport for ensuring that adequate alternative public service transport is made available before passenger rail services in Scotland are withdrawn; and how far such machinery ensures that such alternative public service transport is maintained thereafter.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Statutory responsibility for these matters rests with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, but there is consultation between the Scottish Office and her Department about alternative services. Such alternative services are maintained for as long as they are needed, arrangements to this end being made by my right hon. Friend and the British Railways Board.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Transport has refused to provide bus service for passengers from Forfar direct to Taybridge station in Dundee after the rail service is withdrawn or closed? As this alternative service is essential, will the hon. Gentleman intervene and use his authority to get this service established?

Dr. Mabon

I shall willingly take up this point. What, I think, the hon. Gentleman has to recognise, and I am sure he does, is that we are working within a Statute laid down by the previous Administration. It is very difficult to follow it out directly without at the same time having to supplement it with the things that we have done in consulting the Consultative Groups and in taking the very good points made by hon. Members in this House where statutory responsibility is not adequate, and I am sorry that the 1962 Act is framed as it is.

Mr. David Steel

Although the Ministry of Transport has statutory responsibility, in the case of the Border railway line it is the Scottish Office which will be regarded as having moral responsibility for the closure or otherwise of this line in view of the economic development of the region.

Dr. Mabon

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has moral responsibility for every reverse that we have in Scotland. I wish that he received moral credit for every success that he has.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.