asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when the White Paper on the Railway Reorganisation Scheme will be available to hon. Members.
I received the scheme from the British Transport Comsion on 15th April and, in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 (1) of the Transport Act, 1953, I am consulting the interests specially concerned. When I have done this, I must consider, after consultation with the British Transport Commission, whether any modification of the scheme is desirable. I shall then present a White Paper to the House.
I am sure that the Minister will give an assurance that he is consulting the trade unions concerned as well as other interested parties, but is the position that when the White Paper is presented to Parliament there will be a debate and in the light of the debate a scheme will be amended, if desired, and then a Statutory Instrument presented? Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any idea how long he expects these consultations to take?
As I have said on other occasions, the answer to both questions is "Yes." The trade unions, of course, will be consulted. The purpose of preparing a White Paper is to secure a debate in Parliament before I formally present the scheme. I do not know how long all this will take. We are pressing on as fast as we can and I should like to thank the Commission for the care and speed with which they have handed their proposals to me.