§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that, owing to the delay in the restoration of the Basingstoke and Alton light railway (which was taken up for emergency service during the War), and the consequent inability of local agriculturists to send their produce to market, large tracts of land adjacent to this line have been 679W thrown out of cultivation; and whether he will take early steps to restore the line, for which a favourable opportunity now offers owing to the large number of men unemployed in the town of Basingstoke?
§ Mr. NEAL
The question of the restoration of this light railway has been very fully considered. During the whole of the 16 years that the line was in use, it was run at a loss. The initial cost of reinstating the line would be great, and there would undoubtedly continue to be a heavy annual loss in working, which, during the period of Government control, would have to be met out of the Government guarantee; at the end of the period of Government control, it would still be open to the Railway Company to discontinue the service. It has, there fore, been decided, with regret, that my hon. Friend the Minister of Transport would not be justified in giving a direction to the London and South Western Railway Company to re-open the line, but this Ministry, together with the other Government Departments concerned, is now engaged in considering the question whether the needs of the district can be supplied in some other manner.