Inland Waterways

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone 12:00 am, 19th April 1967

asked the Minister of Transport if she will extend the proposed period of reviews on the inland waterways from five to 20 years in order to encourage investment by private boatyards, boat hirers and similar businesses.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

No, Sir. Representations about this proposal are being carefully considered: my right hon. Friend is anxious to encourage activities, such as those referred to by the hon. Member, which could contribute to the prosperity of the future cruising waterway network. But these waterways are subsidised and no such subsidy could run unreviewed for 20 years.

Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that no commercial investment by private investors in waterways has a write-off period of much less than 20 years, and therefore if there is to be private investment people must have a guarantee that their investment will last its useful life?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

I am very much aware of the considerations which the hon. Gentleman has in mind, but he will understand that public funds are involved here, and what one has to balance is the need on the one hand for control over these funds, and to aim on the other not to discourage the kind of investment which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I am very much aware of the point made by him.

Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone

asked the Minister of Transport if she will publish a summary of the answers she has received to her circular asking interested parties for their views on the proposals on the inland waterways in the White Paper, Transport Policy.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

This would be impracticable in view of the extent of the consultations and the diversity of the matters dealt with in the replies. We are grateful for the response that has been made to the Department's inquiries; full weight will be given to the views expressed in the further development of waterways policy.

Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone

Can the hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to receive all the answers, and when the matter will be properly discussed, and whether there will be an opportunity for further debate in this House?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

The question of a debate is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. Replies are still awaited from some local authorities and some representatives of sporting interests. We hope that they will be received soon. I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that the point which he has made today, and on other occasions, will certainly be borne in mind. The other day I went to Oxford to the Waterways Conference to acquaint myself better and further with the views of all the waterway interests.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

Why all the secrecy? What is the hon. Gentleman trying to hide? Why is he keeping quiet?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

The hon. Gentleman must be living in a different world from me. I am not aware of any secrecy. This is a normal form of consultation.