HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 cc453-4
23. Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage the carriage of freight by water.

Mr. Horam

The Government are ready to consider on their merits any proposals to increase waterborne freight traffic.

Mr. Moate

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the Select Committee report published today which concludes that the British Waterways Board should be regarded as a transport industry, that it has experienced a lack of support from the Government, and that it has had a bad relationship with the Government? Does he support the policy of submerging the Board within a national water authority responsible to the Minister with responsibility for sport, snow and droughts.

Mr. Horam

The hon. Gentleman is asking me a leading question, because this is a matter of differing responsibilities between the Departments of the Environment and Transport. I note the recommendation of the Select Committee that there should be a transfer from the Department of the Environment to my Department, but that is a matter for the Prime Minister.

Mr. Flannery

In the light of the Select Committee report, will my hon. Friend seriously consider its recommendation for the improvement of the South Yorkshire Canal, as everyone in the area is in favour of it, the Select Committee is in favour of it, and surely the Government should be in favour of it, especially as it will make the transport of steel, for example, considerably cheaper?

Mr. Horam

I note my hon. Friend's advocacy of the scheme. The Secretary of State for the Environment is looking at revised proposals submitted by the British Waterways Board.