HL Deb 03 August 1961 vol 234 cc209-10

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I should like to declare that I have a certain amount of scientific interest in this subject, and for many years I have been the chairman of a group of engineers and scientists who are interested in and have been working on this subject.


[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government if there is any objection from the Government's point of view to monorail transport from the centre of London to any Airport, provided the system is thoroughly tested and proved as to safety, speed, etc.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to consider on their merits proposals for monorail transport from the centre of London to any airport, but so far they have not received sufficient details of any scheme to make a full assessment of its potentialities. I cannot, therefore, say whether such monorail links would be acceptable. Social and financial as well as technical considerations would no doubt have to be taken into account.


My Lords, when there were shouts of "Order!" just now, I should just like to say that I was declaring my interest; I was not giving any explanation. I want to thank my noble friend for his information and to let him know that if he wants any information on this subject we might be able to help him, as we have been studying this matter for a great many years now.


My Lards, arising out of my noble friend's Answer, could he tell your Lordships' House whether the Ministry of Transport have sent two or three properly qualified mechanical engineers to look over the monorail which has now been running for the past eighteen months as a test line, and which is about a mile in length, at Chateauneufsur-Loire.


The answer to that is, Yes, my Lords.


My Lords, may I ask another question? As the answer is "Yes", could we hear from Her Majesty's Minister what is the result of that inspection?


My Lords, perhaps it would be better to sum this matter up for the benefit of your Lordships, as there seems to be some misunderstanding. There are several monorail promoting companies, including the one with a mile-long demonstration stretch at Chateauneuf-sur-Loire, which has been inspected by my right honourable friend, Mr. Hay, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Transport, among other people, as well as technical officers. Some three years ago, or rather more, around March, 1958, we issued from the Ministry to all the companies concerned the questions which we should want answered to obtain full information in order to evaluate the schemes. Such information, my Lords, has not yet been forthcoming.


My Lords, as the Ministry has studied the French system and also the German Alweg system, could they within a reasonably short time take a decision whether or not there could be a monorail link between Gatwick and Heathrow Airports?


My Lords, as I said in my Answer, we shall be delighted to consider this question as soon as we can obtain the information we require to evaluate a system of this kind.

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