Canals and Inland Waterways

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1955.

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Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley 12:00 am, 16th November 1955

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many miles of canals and inland waterways are still in active use in Great Britain; and what proportion of this mileage is controlled by the Transport Commission.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

About 1,800 miles are still in commercial use, of which 1,420 miles are controlled by the British Transport Commission.

Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what tonnage was carried on canals and inland waterways in Great Britain in 1938, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, and to the latest convenient date in 1955, respectively.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

As the Answer includes a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Eric Johnson Mr Eric Johnson , Manchester, Blackley

Would my right hon. Friend give the figure for 1938 and 1954?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Certainly. The figures, which will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT, are, for 1938, 12,952,000 tons and, for 1954, 13,253,000 tons.

Following is the answer:

Complete information is not available, but the following tonnages relate to the majority of canals and inland waterways (excluding estuarial rivers and the Manchester Ship Canal):

193812,952,000
194812,218,000
195012,817,000
195113,341,000
195213,432,000
195313,714,000
195413,253,000
Up to 11th September, 19558,950,000 (estimated).

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what recommendations he has now received from the British Transport Commission arising from the Board of Survey Report on canals and inland waterways; and what action he is taking thereon.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I have just received from the Commission, and am considering, its proposals for the develop- ment of those waterways which carry substantial traffic and which the Board of Survey recommended should be improved.

The Commission has also recommended that those waterways which in its view have insufficient commercial prospects to justify their retention for navigation should be transferred to other more suitable bodies. I have informed the Commission that this recommendation requires further study.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Will the Minister give this matter his most earnest consideration, in view of the difficulties which confront the Commission today because of the necessity to maintain many derelict waterways and because of the compensation which, in some cases, it is having to pay?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is an extremely difficult and very important problem.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Without anticipating the result of the inquiry, will the right hon. Gentleman also inquire how much it costs to deal with abandoned canals?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I think that that clearly is a relevant matter.

Photo of Commander Sir Peter Agnew Commander Sir Peter Agnew , Worcestershire South

So far as the question of the closing of canals and waterways is concerned, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, painstaking as the Board no doubt was in going about its work, it was set up by the very body, namely, the British Transport Commission, which is responsible for their maintenance and which has not been keeping them all in a state of repair? Will my right hon. Friend consider, therefore, having a more independent inquiry before any action is taken?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I think that there is a good deal to be said for that suggestion.