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Channel Tunnel

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 21 July 1954

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1.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if, in view of the desirability of demonstrating the solidarity of the peoples of France and Great Britain in peace and in war, he will withdraw the objections which successive British Governments have raised to the construction of a tunnel under the Channel.

While there are so many useful and necessary transport projects in this country which have more pressing claims on the limited resources available, I am afraid the Channel Tunnel will have to wait.

While appreciating the reasons which have led the right hon. Gentleman to give that answer, may I ask whether he appreciates that he has not attempted to answer my Question, which was whether the old objections, and not the present-day objections had been withdrawn by the Minister? Does he realise that the cost of the tunnel would be negligible and that at least six Continental Governments would wish to contribute to this scheme? Can the right hon. Gentleman think of any scheme which would better or more cheaply demonstrate our desire to stand in with France, and is not this a particularly suitable year to make a demonstration in that direction having regard to the fact that this is the 50th year of the Entente Cordiale?

While desiring in every way that we should show our affection for the people of Europe, I could not say that the old objections have been all removed, while in addition there are new disadvantages, in that the development of air travel has strengthened the arguments against a tunnel which have, by themselves, prevailed with every Government for the last 50 years.

In view of the vital importance of maintaining good relations between Northumberland and Durham, will my right hon. Friend press on with the scheme to complete the Tyne tunnel?