asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied that the rights of the individual to appear before statutory public inquiries of all kinds are safeguarded and are not frustrated by being made difficult and expensive to exercise; and if he will make a statement.
I am not aware of any cases in which persons concerned are not given a full opportunity of being heard before a tribunal or other public inquiry, although the costs of doing so will naturally be greater in some cases than in others. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I shall be glad to consider it.
Does the Prime Minister think it right that objectors to the closure of the lines from Inverness to Kyle and Inverness to Wick—the only railway links in an area of 6,000 square miles—should be asked to travel to one centre? Does he not realise that anyone objecting to the closure of the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness line and living in the north of Skye will be faced with a journey of 140 miles each way to exercise his rights? Would the right hon. Gentleman ask his own constituents, in respect of this kind of thing, to travel from Perth to Newcastle?
I have made inquiries on this point. The Transport Users' Advisory Council has told me that written representations are given just as much attention as any other—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and that it is not necessary for a person actually to go to the committee meeting.