§ 25. Mr. Heffer
asked the Minister of Transport if she will now announce her decision on the proposal to close the line between Liverpool and Wigan via Fazakerley, and also her decision on the proposal to withdraw the local railway passenger service between Liverpool and 1259 Wigan via St. Helens; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Morris
My right hon. Friend has decided to refuse her consent to both these proposals. She has had regard not only to the present use made of the services but also to the proposal for establishing a Merseyside passenger transport authority, as foreshadowed in the recent White Paper. Her decision will enable any future authority to take a fresh look at both services in the context of a comprehensive review of the public transport needs of the whole area.
§ Mr. Heffer
While my hon. Friend is, I am sure, aware that that will give great satisfaction to the people of Merseyside, may I ask him if the Minister of Transport is now prepared to give a decision as soon as possible about the widening of the bridge at Longmore Lane, for which we have been waiting as a result of the discussions which have taken place?
§ Mr. Morris
In deference to my hon. Friend, that matter hardly arises on this Question; but I will certainly consult with my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Fortescue
Would not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that it would be apposite for other commuter lines in the Merseyside area, for which closure orders have been given but which have not yet been closed, to remain open until the passenger transport authority has been established?
§ Mr. Morris
I feel sure that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Gateacre closure. My right hon. Friend has taken a decision in that case but, as he knows, the board cannot implement that consent until the alternatives have been provided. Nor can it get rid of the route of the line without her specific agreement.