HC Deb 03 April 1974 vol 871 cc1247-8
16. Mr William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future investment programme for the railways.

The Minister for Transport (Mr. Frederick Mulley)

I am considering the Railways Board's proposals.

Mr. Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that one of the promises on which we fought the election was that we would increase investment on the railways and attract freight and passenger traffic from the roads? Does he not agree that this is particularly relevant in Scotland where North Sea oil is extremely important and the demands on the roads are becoming impossible? Will he give an assurance that there will be a White Paper very soon and that the investment in rail will be not less than that envisaged in the original White Paper?

Mr. Mulley

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right in stressing the relevance of railway investment, but I think he will also understand that, much as the present Government have already done, to perform all the election manifesto in a month would have required an incredible speed of operation which I could not hope to maintain. However, I can tell my hon. Friend that I shall not take three and a half years as the previous Government did to state our railway policy. I am concerned to make it known as soon as possible.

Mr. Wigley

In giving consideration to his future investment programme, will the right hon. Gentleman give particular attention to the electrification of the North Wales Coast railway line through to Holyhead and also to the continuance for a considerable time of the Cambrian Coast railway line?

Mr. Mulley

I think the hon. Member should know that the proposals for investment are submitted in the first instance by the British Railways Board. I do not take these decisions for the railways, but I certainly have a very warm spot for electrification. [Laughter.] Some hon. Members may think that I should sit on such a warm spot. I authorised the electrification programme from Preston to Scotland which is to be opened next month.

Sir John Hall

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify a point which he seems to have put in doubt? Is it or is it not the intention of the present Government to implement the railway investment programme that was announced by the last Government?

Mr. Mulley

I should be in some difficulty in announcing it as the last Government stated it, because is was announced in the House in November and was cut by the Chancellor of the Exchequer within a month of its having been announced. I shall certainly announce our railway investment programme as soon as possible.

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