HC Deb 19 June 1968 vol 766 cc1088-9
46. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Minister of Transport what is the reason for the delay of more than a year in announcing his decision following the public inquiry into the proposal to close the Hurst Green-Tunbridge Wells-Lewes railway line; if he is aware of the delay that will be caused to the completion of stage one of the Lewes relief road if a decision is not now made with regard to the Lewes-Barcombe Mills section of this line; and if he will now announce his decision.

Mr. Carmichael

The delay in reaching a decision on this proposal is due, as the hon. and gallant Member is well aware, to the particularly complex issues involved.

We are fully conscious of the implications of the proposal for the timing of roadworks connected with stage I of the Lewes relief road. My right hon. Friend will announce a decision as soon as he is entirely satisfied that all the necessary investigations have been completed.

Sir T. Beamish

Since it is 14 months since a public inquiry strongly and unanimously recommended that this railway line should be kept open, is it not high time that a decision was made? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the failure to make a decision, unless one is made very soon, is almost certain to result in unnecessary waste of public expenditure on quite a large scale?

Mr. Carmichael

I am aware of the long time this matter has taken. I would not agree with the results of delay suggested by the hon. Gentleman. It is an extremely complex question. The relief road and the railway line are involved. It is right that my right hon. Friend should arrive at a correct decision rather than a quick decision.