HC Deb 15 June 1981 vol 6 cc725-6
18. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent steps he has taken to promote railway preservation as part of the national heritage.

Mr. Channon

My responsibilities in this field are related only to the interests of museums, but I am most anxious to promote railway preservation and would gladly welcome any suggestions by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Manpower Services Commission has decreed that the youth opportunities programme and the community enterprise programme are appropriate for railway preservation purposes? As millions are interested in the subject, will my right hon. Friend, as Arts Minister, give voice to their interest and enthusiasm by letting them know from time to time that the Government are interested in their activities?

Mr. Channon

I am aware of that, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend's interest and activity in the matter. Hon. Members interested in steam locomotives will be glad to know that of the number of preserved locomotives in Western Europe about one-third are in the United Kingdom. There is a great deal of interest by thousands of people in this country.

Mr. Bidwell

Is the Minister aware that the railway preservation movement is gathering steam all the time? I speak as a former railway shunter and goods guard. Is the Minister aware that I buttress the remarks of the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) and request the Minister to persuade local authorities to assist such activities?

Mr. Channon

I am strongly in favour of that. As the House knows, a large number of British Rail locomotives are stored at Barry, in which my hon. Friend has taken an interest. There is shortly to be another visit to Barry by those concerned, and if my hon. Friend or any hon. Member wishes to join that group he will be most welcome.

Mr. Anderson

Is the Minister aware that Sir Peter Parker has said that there will be no new investment in British Railways this year? Unless the Cabinet makes a decision this week on rail electrification, there will be more candidates for his museums.