Development in Rural Areas

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1964.

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Photo of Mr James Dance Mr James Dance , Bromsgrove 12:00 am, 7th February 1964

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that comment, because it is quite true.

Another aspect of this piecemeal destruction—it is not really destruction but rebuilding, although it is destruction of much of the beauty of our villages—is concerned with the schools. In the village where I live, there is an extremely good church school which has a wonderful record for tuition and for the general standard of education. With the advent of the large housing estate nearby, it was completely inadequate and had to be extended. This very good school had a fine reputation for a long time, but it was capable of coping with only a small increase in population, and when large housing estates are built in villages like this proper modern school buildings must be provided for them and should be in concentrated areas and not scattered all over the countryside.

Finally on this aspect of the matter, I want to refer to the ordinary services, water and drainage and electricity and so on. We are fortunate in the Midlands in that these services exist in many villages, but if the villages are extended by 50, 60, or 100 houses, these services can become completely inadequate and great expenditure is incurred on increasing service supplies to these villages. If at the beginning of new development there is a concentration on certain areas, then services going to the older part of the village would be adequate and new services could be provided for the new estates more easily

Much has been said about rural transport, and I know that many people have been worried about what is to happen when the rail closures take place. I entirely agree with Dr. Beeching that there must be some closures. When I journeyed from Worcester to Stratford-on-Avon by train, I went through nine stations and only nine passengers got on the train. That sort of thing is obviously hopeless and rural bus services will have to take the place of the trains.

Many people have been worried about what is to replace the railway luggage van which carries their prams, heavy parcels and so on if a railway line is closed and they have to travel by bus. For this reason I was delighted to get a Press handout from the Ministry of Transport in connection with a demonstration given to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport on 20th January. I have a photograph of a trailer which can be towed behind a bus which can carry much luggage of various sizes. The handout says: At present, buses in public service are not permitted to tow trailers (except gas trailers); but the Minister has circulated proposals to amend the law to allow this to be done in certain circumstances. This is first-class, and my right hon. Friend should have a pat on the back for having anticipated our needs. The trailer in my photograph was designed for London Airport and for dealing with the larger sizes of aircraft. The idea is that the trailer is hitched on to the ordinary B.E.A. bus and taken straight to the aircraft. However, this trailer could easily be adapted for rural use. The handout says: There may also be a use for such trailers where bus services are substituted for passenger trains. Many buses already have adequate luggage space and it is often possible to provide more. There may, however, be instances where trailers could justifiably be used, and the Minister therefore considers that it would not be reasonable to maintain the rigidly present prohibition on their use.