HC Deb 25 January 1967 vol 739 cc1483-4
11 and 12. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether she has had any applications from hovercraft firms to run a continuous all-the-year-round daily service on the Thames from Tilbury to Richmond;

(2) whether she will refer to the Transport Co-ordinating Council for London the question of establishing a continuous all-the-year-round daily service on the Thames from Tilbury to Richmond, with a view to relieving traffic congestion on the streets of London.

Mrs. Castle

I have had no such applications. I do not think a regular Thames passenger service would contribute enough to the relief of traffic congestion to justify referring the idea to the Council.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, on the last occasion when I raised this, the chief objection lodged against it was the speed of the tide? With the advent of the hovercraft, would not that difficulty be met? If there were adequate pier facilities, in view of the numbers of people who now travel for pleasure on the Thames, would this not provide some relief of the congestion presently on London's roads?

Mrs. Castle

With regard to hovercraft, I can only repeat that neither I nor the Board of Trade have received any applications to operate a service with one and therefore I cannot produce it out of thin air. River travel is very pleasant for tourists and as an amenity but my hon. Friend's suggestion would not, I am afraid, relieve the traffic congestion in London and I would not be justified in referring it to the Council for serious consideration.

Mr. A. Royle

Is the right hon. Lady aware that her reply will be received with pleasure by many of my constituents who live alongside the river? Is she further aware that, with the institution of a hovercraft service, the noise would be extremely detrimental to the amenities of people living alongside the Thames?

Mrs. Castle

All this is completely hypothetical in the absence of an application.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is the right hon. Lady aware that a constituent of mine, Thames Launches Limited, produced a non-noisy type of hovercraft three or four years ago which ran on the Thames and that, with financial encouragement, the firm is ready to restart the service?

Mrs. Castle

I can only repeat that no application has been received.