HC Deb 01 February 1971 vol 810 cc1228-30
12. Mr. John

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if, as a result of his consideration of transport questions in Wales, he will take steps to ensure an integrated and continuing public transport system in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Close liaison already exists betwen my office and the other various interests concerned to ensure that full consideration is given to meeting the essential public transport needs of Wales.

Mr. John

The Secretary of State is very careful to avoid any specific commitment or specific answer to my question, which asks what steps he will take. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that unless he shows more urgency and less complacency, there will be neither an integrated nor a continuing public transport system in Wales?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that, by Statutes passed by the previous Government, the National Bus Company and British Railways have a statutory duty to provide co-ordinated services. As to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, no rail passenger services will be withdrawn in Wales without a most careful inquiry into all social and economic implications. As for buses, local authorities have powers to keep essential bus services running in rural areas.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the interest aroused in Wales by the proposal to site the new national airport on Severn-side? Will he use his position in the Cabinet to ensure that this imaginative and visionary proposal is given consideration at the highest level?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I assure my hon. Friend that I shall give consideration to what he has said.

Mr. George Thomas

Will the Secretary of State say that the Cambrian railway, which has been threatened by his right hon. Friend with the withdrawal of grant at the end of this year, can be assured of an existence? If there is an inquiry, as I presume there will be, will the right hon. Gentleman and his Department give evidence in support of a stronger communications system?

Mr. Peter Thomas

As to the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, he knows that a Minister of the Crown could not possibly give evidence to such an inquiry. The statutory procedure, which the right hon. Gentleman knows well, is that there will be a public hearing by the Transport Users Consultative Committee, which will then report to the Minister on the hardship which closure would cause. There will be consultation with the Welsh Council about social and economic aspects, and there will be consultation with me. It would be wholly inappropriate for me to give evidence.