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Scotland

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1961

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5.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that present rail services to the North of Scotland are prejudicial to the development of industry there; and if he will specify his plans for capital development on diesel trains, railway electrification and other schemes, to be applied to the long hauls to the North of Scotland from the South of Britain, to remedy this situation.

The British Transport Commission is improving services to the North of Scotland by modernising traction on the West coast and East coast main lines. It has also introduced express freight services. I do not, however, accept the suggestion made in the first part of the hon. and learned Member's Question.

If the Minister does not accept the suggestion in the first part of the Question, does he realise that his Answer shows confusion of thought, just as did his speech on the Transport Bill? The right hon. Gentleman fails to realise that Britain is an island unit needing a co-ordinated system of transport to bring trade, industry and population to the North of Scotland, where it is badly needed. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his policy is in conflict with that of the Secretary of State for Scotland in this respect?

I cannot agree with the last part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary question. Regarding the first part, there is no better judge of confusion than the hon. and learned Gentleman. The dieselisation of the Scottish services is proceeding rapidly. Twenty-two Deltic, very powerful diesel electric locomotives for the east coast will be in service by the first half of 1962. The whole of the east coast route from King's Cross is being modernised by diesels. Some are already operating between Euston and Crewe and an experimental diesel service is in operation between Glasgow, Aberdeen and Oban.

In fairness to my hon. Friends who represent Scotland, let me put it on record that they certainly have good cause for complaint when they know that at least 300 passenger trains are to be withdrawn early in January. If we had planning about adequate services there would not be these complaints and if the services are inadequate now, what will they be like then?

I gave an example on Monday of one of the train services to be withdrawn and I pointed out that, on average, it carried three passengers per day.

On a point of order. This is a genuine point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Answer and since I failed to get into the debate yesterday, I give notice—

Order. I have repeatedly asked the House not to depart from the traditional formula. The hon. and learned Gentleman is not entitled to usurp to himself the right to make a speech when giving notice.