Orders of the Day — Channel Tunnel Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th April 1974.

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Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park 12:00 am, 30th April 1974

With respect, this is not so because it is intended that the independent assessment should go along with the studies, which is what phase 2 is about. We shall not in any even have the information on which the House could take a decision until at the earliest the early months of next year. This has always been in the timetable which has been expounded since phase 1, and no change is envisaged as a result of the arrangements in the timetable set out and agreed with the French Government by the last administration.

Another major point for re-examiation is the balance between road and rail. There are, in particular, two elements. The first is what can be done to increase the through rail traffic and, secondly, will the growth of road ferry traffic, whether using the Tunnel or the sea ferries, be as great as indicated in the earlier forecasts which were made before the recent fuel crisis? I am already in touch with the chairman of the British Railways Board on the prospects for rail traffic and I look forward to a meeting as soon as possible to discuss these matters with the French Minister concerned.

There is also need to consider the impact the Channel Tunnel could have, especially after very high speed trains come into service during the 1980s, on the traffic for which we need to provide at the London airports. All this can be done during phase 2 without adding to the eventual cost of the works, if it is decided to complete the project in phase 3.