HC Deb 11 April 1967 vol 744 cc949-50
8. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Technology what progress has been made in the development of the hovertrain; and what future he envisages for this form of transport.

11. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Technology if he will now make a statement about measures for the practical development of the hovertrain in this country; and if he will state what organisation will take over this responsibility.

Dr. Bray

The National Research Development Corporation has put proposals to my right hon. Friends the Ministers of Technology and Transport and we are already in discussion with British Rail.

Mr. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend aware that Japan already has plans for a 400 miles per hour hovertrain linking Osaka and Tokyo and that the United States proposes to spend 90 million dollars in the next two years on hovertrain research? Would he not agree that high-speed hovertrains are an ideal form of transport for linking British towns and cities?

Dr. Bray

Whether or not they are ideal for Britain, there is an immense potential in the world for this type of transport and this is why we are giving the matter our attention.

Mr. J. H. Osborn

Will the development be given to a private company or to institutional organisations?

Dr. Bray

Hovercraft would never have been developed but for the support of public enterprise. This is likely to continue to be necessary.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that if the full export potential of this very important development is to be realised, we must show that we have faith in this country first? In view of the very considerable pressure brought to bear from both sides of the House in this matter, will he give an assurance that the Government will not stint this prototype hovertrain?

Dr. Bray

The Government will undertake the most efficient development for this system with the full realisation of its export potential.