HC Deb 05 July 1978 vol 953 cc452-3
22. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the report of the steering group studying the case for a programme of main line electrification.

27. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has received for further railway electrification.

Mr. William Rodgers

I expect to receive the steering group's report early next year. Meanwhile, no proposals are in front of me.

Mr. Whitehead

In view of the delay before the report comes out, will my right hon. Friend urgently consider the case for electrifying the London Midland region, which is rapidly becoming the weak sister of the English regions in railway services? If he cannot agree with me about that now, will he take a ride on the train from London to Derby or Sheffield, when he speedily would agree with me?

Mr. Rodgers

No, I do not think that I can agree with my hon. Friend now or that I would agree with him even if I took the ride that he invites me to take —and for one simple reason; that I would not have set up the steering group if I knew the answers. It is right to wait for its report in order to consider a decision.

Mr. Tuck

Will my right hon. friend try to ensure that the United Kingdom rises from the bottom of the electrification league of European countries, in the interests of efficiency in operation, greater productivity and fuel conservation?

Mr. Rodgers

I am always in favour of this country's rising from the bottom of the league in any area, but I think that we should do so on merit, when the justification is plain.

Mr. Tuck

It is.

Mr. Rodgers

My hon. Friend knows better than some. I wish that I shared his certainty. However, as soon as we get the steering group's report, we shall have to move forward to decisions. I recognise the strength of feeling about electrification.

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