HL Deb 20 January 1970 vol 307 cc4-5

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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have observed that railway trains were seriously delayed and near-accidents took place on January 5, 1970, by reason of the hounds of two hunts crossing the main Cardiff to Swansea line, and whether it is intended that the Pentyrch and Llangeinor Hunts be prosecuted accordingly for causing trains to be at hazard.]


My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport is aware of the incidents to which the noble Lord refers but it is for the Railways Board and not for him to institute proceedings against the hunts if the Board consider this justified. The Railways Board say that they do not propose to prosecute the hunts concerned.


My Lords, will my noble friend ask the management of British Railways whether they will give due consideration to closing the railway lines on foxhunting days?


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend what reasons the Railways Board gave for not taking any action in this matter?


My Lords, this is something which one should not take too desperately seriously. Here it was not the hounds coming on to the line that caused the trouble, but the jamming of the brakes when they were applied by the guard. In fact, the trouble occurred not as the result of the hounds being present on the line but because of a mechanical failing.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether he is aware that hounds were in fact killed, and that trains were delayed for twenty-one minutes?


My Lords, yes. It is unfortunate that hounds were killed. On the other hand, the delay was not due to the fact that the hounds were killed, but was due to the breakdown of the braking system.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that agreement has been reached between hunting interests and British Railways headquarters in Cardiff as to the future conduct of foxhunting in this area?


Yes, my Lords. There is no real dispute between the hunting community and the Railways Board. This is a hazard that can occur. It has happened rarely. I cannot remember a previous occasion. But, as I have said, the Railways Board do not propose to prosecute.