Tinsley Methodist Church, Sheffield

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th February 1964.

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Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe 12:00 am, 12th February 1964

asked the Minister of Transport when a reply was sent by him to the letter, dated 7th August, 1963, from the representatives of the trustees of Tinsley Methodist Church in Sheffield relating to the compulsory acquision of the church.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

An interim reply was sent on 12th September, 1963. The district valuer was already trying to help the trustees to find an alternative site and he has, at our request, continued his efforts and been keeping in touch with their agents, as my right hon. Friend explained to the hon. Member in his letter of 3rd January.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Is not this deplorable? The Minister has admitted that the firm wrote to him on 7th August, 1963, and an interim reply acknowledging this, and stating that the Minister would give a full reply as soon as possible, was sent over a month later, since when nothing has been heard from the Minister in reply to that letter. Surely the Minister should at least send an apology to the firm and provide it with the reply which he promised on 12th September, 1963? So far as I know, the firm has received no reply from the Minister.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

To a certain extent I can understand the hon. Gentleman's anger. In fact, no letter was sent, because the district valuer was in personal touch with the trustees throughout all this time. My right hon. Friend did not want to send a negative reply, which he would have had to send, while there was still hope that an alternative site might be found. If it will help the hon. Gentleman, I am quite prepared to send a letter to the trustees along the lines of the letter which my right hon. Friend sent to him.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to satisfy the Trustees of Tinsley Methodist Church that an alternative site will be available before the church is demolished, following its compulsory acquisition by him in connection with the Aston-Sheffield-Leeds motorway project.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I understand that the trustees of the Methodist Church have now been able to make arrangements for the temporary use of other premises but as far as permanent accommodation is concerned, I cannot add to my right hon. Friend's letter of the 3rd January.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I understand the Minister claims that he has no statutory responsibility in such cases, but is not there a very strong moral responsibility on the Government? They have the power to destroy a church in the interests of road development and they seek to discharge their responsibility by offering money to rebuild the church when there is no site. Is not there a moral responsibility on the Ministry to do something more positive to assist this church to get a site for a new building?

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

It was because we recognised what the hon. Gentleman refers to as a moral responsibility that we asked the district valuer to help. My right hon. Friend has no power to acquire land specifically for those people who are displaced. All we can do is use our good offices; we cannot do more.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

In view of the completely unsatisfactory nature of the replies to this Question and the previous Question, I wish to give notice that I intend to raise this matter on the Adjournment.