§ 5. Mr. Sheldon
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now make a further statement on the Channel Tunnel.
§ The Minister for Transport Industries (Mr. John Peyton)
The French Minister of Transport visited London on 22nd March for talks on the Channel Tunnel project with representatives of the international private group. I will with permission circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the text of the communiqué.
§ Mr. Sheldon
Will the reply give any of the figures the right hon. Gentleman promised to give me if I put down a Written Question—but which I have not yet received? Will it include any possibilities of examining alternative methods of a Channel link, including a roadway? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that new studies are required going even further than that which he is prepared to have because, even if his Department has stood 1473 still in this matter over the last nine years, engineering technology has not?
§ Mr. Peyton
There is no disagreement between us here. There is no question of my Department having stood still for nine years. We are engaged on the first phase of the final studies which will produce the figures for which the hon. Gentleman has persistently and properly asked. As soon as they are available, I will make them available to the House.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that an early decision to go ahead with the Channel Tunnel would take a considerable load off the number of aircraft landings envisaged for the rest of the decade?
§ Mr. Peyton
My hon. Friend is right in pointing out that the tunnel is merely an alternative among the choices of ways of crossing the Channel. In future, there will be a greatly increased demand for facilities and the tunnel is, in my view, one of the tidy and acceptable alternatives—provided, of course, that the final studies turn out as we hope they will.
§ The text of the communiqué is as follows: