HL Deb 17 December 1957 vol 206 cc1204-5

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government if they are aware that, when the Canadian trade delegation was visiting this country, the delegation made a special journey by a British Railways (Western Region) train, which was drawn by an imported gas turbine electric locomotive of Swiss origin; and whether they think that this was in the best interests of the British locomotive manufacturing industry.]


My Lords, during their tour of this country the Canadian Trade Mission made a number of journeys by special trains. On one occasion only—that to which the noble Lord refers in his Question—was an engine of other than British manufacture used to draw the train. On each journey the British Transport Commission's object has been to provide the most efficient and up to date rolling stock available. The Swiss gas turbine locomotive used for the journey between London and Cardiff is experimental and was the most modern locomotive of that type normally available in the Western Region of British Railways. With this one exception, all the journeys were made with rolling stock of British manufacture, and the delegation's programme included a journey in a special train drawn by the prototype British diesel-electric "Deltic" locomotive and another in a diesel railcar. A representative of the Locomotive and Allied Manufacturers' Association and several manufacturers of locomotives and railway rolling stock have met members of the delegation.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his reply, and regretting that a British locomotive was not used on this occasion, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that at Dover Marine Station the dirt is really excessive? In view of this fact and of our poor showing on British locomotives, does the noble Lord not agree that we are not being very clever with the visitors coming to this country? And would the noble Lord try to persuade the British Transport Commission to use soap and water and not to go on waiting for modernisation?


My Lords, the appearance of Dover Marine Station tends to vary in accordance with the type of Channel crossing one has experienced. British Railways are, I know, well aware of the need for keeping up appearances, and I will bring to their attention the points which the noble Lord has made.