May I stress how important it is to Manchester International airport that all support and urgency should be given to that project, which we seem to have been talking about for years? It is most important, not only for the Manchester area, but for the whole north of England and as far as the Scottish coast. It is also vital for industry, commerce and tourism. Will the Minister make every endeavour speedily to introduce that rail link, which is urgently needed?
We discussed this subject last night. Indeed, the Government gave their support to the Second Reading of the British Railways Bill, which gives power to safeguard the land necessary for the Manchester airport link. It is for British Rail to judge whether there is a case for investment in that link and to make proposals, which we shall then consider.
Does the Minister agree that there is an urgent need for the link in the light of the electrification of the line between Manchester and Preston and the Windsor link project? In addition, the link with the airport would be beneficial both to the inner city link and the local railway network. As my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) has emphasised, there is an urgent need for it, as is would bring jobs to a very depressed area.
The Government supported the British Railways Bill, which was debated last night. The hon. Gentleman is right to emphasise the connection between this scheme and the other two schemes. However, in all those schemes it is for British Rail to consider the issues involved and to make its proposals in due course.
Does the Minister accept that, in view of his words last night, people in Greater Manchester will be very disappointed to learn that although the Government supported the Bill, they gave no cash commitment to let British Rail build that link? The people of Greater Manchester want a clear commitment from the Government that they will put up the money, and that it is put up before there is any talk of a further terminal at Heathrow or any proposals about Stansted. The north of England wants a fair deal from the Government.
I have explained that it is for the Britsh Railways Board to consider the investment aspect of those railway developments and to bring forward proposals. The Government will then give its representations careful and prompt attention.