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Railways

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1962

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Electric Railway, Tyneside

41.

asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has to meet the increased traffic congestion, on roads for which he is responsible in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area, which will result from the proposed discontinuance of the North and South Tyneside electric train service.

43.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will refer to the appropriate Transport Users' Consultative Committee the proposal by the British Transport Commission that the electrified lines from Newcastle to the coast should be closed.

I would refer the right hon. and hon. Members to the reply I gave on 21st March to my hon. Friends the Members for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne East (Mr. Montgomery).

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that Answer did not allay the fears of people on Tyneside? Could he please confirm whether the correct procedure here is that the British Transport Commission makes proposals and the Transport Users' Consultative Committee makes recommendations on them to the Minister? May we have an assurance that my right hon. Friend has the last word?

I can certainly give that assurance. The Commission submits its proposals to the appropriate Area Transport Users' Consultative Committee and the Central Committee considers these findings and makes recommendations where closures are concerned. The recommendations then go to the Minister who makes the final decision. I therefore can confirm what my hon. Friend has said.

Is it not time that the Government told Dr. Beeching to stop mucking about with these lines? Are we not concerned with the interest of the public, apart from modernisation and improvements and all the rest? Is this not an important consideration and will the Minister understand that if Dr. Beeching goes on in this fashion we will have to put down a Motion of censure on the gentleman?

The right hon. Gentleman, as the House well knows, considers that all transport should be a social service. I disagree with him entirely in that respect. What Dr. Beeching has to do, as I said the other day, is to try to get the right size and shape to the railway system and make it really workable.