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London Railways Plan (Report)

Volume 466: debated on Monday 4 July 1949

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56.

asked the Minister of Transport the reason for the delay in the publication of the report of the working party on London transport facilities and when it will be available.

66.

asked the Minister of Transport how soon he expects to receive the report of the working party on London transport facilities.

There has been no undue delay. The Report will be published tomorrow afternoon. It is a Report on London railways from a Working Party set up by the British Transport Commission to review the proposals of the Railway (London Plan) Committee. The publication will include the views which the British Transport Commission have submitted to me on the Working Party's Report. The estimated expenditure is of the order of £340 million; and the works which include many new tube and main line tunnels, would take some 20 or 30 years to complete. The proposals, if adopted, would exercise a determining influence on the planning of London, particularly in relation to the central area and the re-development of the South Bank. The future of the three railway bridges at Charing Cross, Blackfriars and Cannon Street is also involved. Clearly, therefore, the Government must give the fullest consideration to the Report, and to the major policy issues affecting the planning of London, before decisions on the Report can be reached. This will take some time, and a statement of the Government's intentions will be made in due course.

In view of the high cost of these works and the fact that my right hon. Friend has not referred in his reply to any proposed electrification of any lines out of London, will he give an assurance that the electrification of certain lines will take place prior to the very heavy cost involved in the construction of tube railways?

Many of these electrification proposals are also involved. The whole scheme will require very careful consideration. I certainly cannot at present give any indication of priorities.

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply now mean that there will be another enormous delay before any decisions are taken about the rebuilding of London?

I do not think it is a question of the rebuilding of London. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will read the answer which I have given, he will see that the British Transport Commission, the body now responsible, has immediately given very careful and detailed consideration to this Report, and the Minister and the Government are now in the position, having received the original London Plan Report and the observations of the Commission, to consider them jointly.

Before final conclusions on the Report are reached by my right hon. Friend or the Government, will an opportunity be given to the respective communities to make their representations about the proposals?

I have not the slightest doubt that before that point is reached there will be great interest taken in many aspects of the Report, and that the views of properly constituted bodies will be taken into consideration.

In view of the importance of this Report on reconstruction plans in London, are we likely to have a relatively early decision on it?

I do not know what my hon. Friend means by "an early decision." A figure of £340 million represents a very big expenditure in view of the financial condition of the country, but I have indicated that all the preliminary work of investigation has been carried out and that it is now for the Government to decide in relation to the facts submitted.

Will consideration of this Report have the effect of suspending still further the Minister's decision in regard to the main traffic arteries in London on which some action is urgently needed?

It depends what the hon. Member means by "main traffic arteries." They can be roads or railways.

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that the Government have no idea of what the meaning of "an early decision" is?

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman should not understand anything of the kind. In view of his own financial experience, I suggest that he should appreciate the necessity of expenditure of this description receiving the careful consideration of the Government, and we shall not be deflected from that consideration.