Overhead Railway, Liverpool

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

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Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland 12:00 am, 16th November 1955

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will now appoint a committee to inquire into the effect of the proposed closure of the Liverpool overhead railway upon the safety and flow of goods and passenger traffic on the roads around the docks, the efficient handling of trade within the docks, and other relevant matters, and to make recommendations to overcome any difficulties.

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware of the disclocation of industry and the operations of the National Dock Labour Board which will occur should the Liverpool overhead railway close down; and whether he will now appoint a committee to inquire into and make recommendations on the matter.

Photo of Mrs Bessie Braddock Mrs Bessie Braddock , Liverpool Exchange

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware of the disclocation that will be caused to passenger and goods traffic in Liverpool by the proposed closing of the Liverpool overhead railway; and if he will, in consultation with the Liverpool Corporation, appoint a committee of inquiry to report to him what measures may be necessary to prevent this disclocation.

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

I understand that the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company proposes to promote a Bill this Session to close the railway. Private Bill procedure provides ample opportunity for the issues which arise to be fully examined, and I do not think it would be desirable to arrange for another inquiry at this stage.

Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are seven miles of dockside in Liverpool, and that this railway affords facilities not only to the Mercantile Marine in the port but also to the (lockers? In view of the congestion of the traffic on the dock road at present, and in view of the greater congestion which would be caused by the closing of the railway, is it not advisable for the Minister to take that into consideration against the saving that would be effected?

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

I do not, of course, know whether Parliament will grant or reject the application for closure which the company is seeking to make in promoting the Bill. Nor do I know, if it accepts the proposal, whether some conditions may be imposed. I do not think that at this stage it would be of much use to try to superimpose another inquiry upon the very real and careful inquiry which Select Committees of this House and another place give to such Bills.

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the demand for better working conditions by the dockers in Liverpool, and is he not aware that adequate transportation is always a part of those demands? Is he not aware that eventually there will be greater mechanisation on the docks and that this in itself will lead to a further weight of traffic on the existing roads? I hope he will agree that a quicker turn-round of ships is essential to the industry of this country. Further—

Hon. Members:

Speech.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I think that that is enough for one supplementary question.

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

I do not want to anticipate the consideration that it may be necessary to give this matter after the Bill has either gone through or been rejected, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Liverpool Corporation has stated in public that in its view its buses could cope with the traffic concerned.

Photo of Mrs Bessie Braddock Mrs Bessie Braddock , Liverpool Exchange

Is the Minister aware that the last statement he has made it not quite correct? Liverpool Corporation has not stated anything of the sort. I happen to be part of the Liverpool Corporation. In view of the fact that there is a Private Bill to come before the House, will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to meet a deputation from the corporation and the trade unions concerned in the area, in order that he may be fully advised about the situation before he has to make any comment upon the Private Bill?

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

I certainly would not wish to quarrel with the hon. Lady either in connection with Liverpool Corporation or indeed any subject. Of course, I shall be very glad to meet any delegation which she wishes to bring to me.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Thompson Mr Kenneth Thompson , Liverpool, Walton

While my right hon. Friend is perfectly right in saying that the Private Bill procedure is the correct and proper one for the consideration of a matter of this kind, is he aware that there is a considerable public interest involved here concerning his Department? Will he consider all the aspects of the matter before the Private Bill is promoted in the House?

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

My hon. Friend knows, I think, that it will be my duty, in due course, to put in the necessary Departmental report to the Committee which considers the Bill.