HC Deb 15 December 1980 vol 996 cc4-5
4. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he, or one of his Ministers, will visit Woodham's Scrapyard, Barry, to examine the remaining steam engines still there with a view to providing finance to preservation societies for their purchase.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

I understand that a working party from the National Railway Museum, accompanied by my hon. Friend, recently visited Woodham Brothers' scrapyard to establish whether any of the engines might warrant preservation or provide spare parts. A visit by a Welsh Office Minister would serve no useful purpose because we have no funds to make available to railway preservation societies. However, the National Museum of Wales owns nine steam engines. It recently purchased a heavy goods engine from Woodham Brothers.

Mr. Adley

Nevertheless, will my hon. Friend discuss with the Wales Tourist Board, in view of the importance of railway preservation to tourism in Wales, what further help it might be able to give—not necessarily cash help—towards the preservation of those engines? Will he also discuss with the Department of Employment how the use of the youth opportunities programme could be amalgamated with efforts of groups such as the Barry Steam Locomotive Action Group, not only to help to preserve the engines but to create jobs for young people in that part of Wales?

Mr. Roberts

I shall certainly draw the attention of the board and the Department of Employment to my hon. Friend's remarks. However, I believe that assistance to the organisations concerned could be available from the National Heritage Fund trustees.

Mr. Hudson Davies

I thank the Minister for his frankness about the likely limitations of his intervention, but is he none the less aware that it is the sole surviving substantial collection of British-made steam engines in the world? Will he bear in mind that the issue is simply that of preserving the collection from the cutter's torch so that renovation can follow at a substantially later date? Will he further investigate the possibility of intervention by the youth opportunities programme, which would lead to employment opportunities in an area of high unemployment and contribute to safeguarding that important aspect of our national heritage?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should not argue a case when seeking to ask a question.

Mr. Roberts

The working party that I referred to has decided to arrange expert examination of the engines next spring, when they will be classified into those with potential for being restored to working order, those with potential for spares and those fit only for scrap. Meanwhile, Woodham Brothers has undertaken not to cut up any more engines for scrap before 1982.

Sir Raymond Gower

Will my hon. Friend also bear in mind that many of those locomotives are a fascinating reminder of the extent of British achievement in the age of steam?

Mr. Roberts

I shall certainly bear that in mind.