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Heysham—Belfast Ferry

Volume 886: debated on Friday 21 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now make a statement on the report by the Central Transport Consultative Committee on the proposed withdrawal of the British Railways car and passenger ferry between Heysham and Belfast.

The Central Transport Consultative Committee, after full consideration of the withdrawal proposal made by the British Railways Board, did not make any recommendation which would have allowed my right hon. Friend to direct the board to continue this shipping service. The service is estimated to have lost over £800,000 last year, and there is a clear commercial case for its withdrawal, bearing in mind that there are no powers at present to subsidise it. The Government have, nevertheless, considered whether they should seek statutory powers to ensure the continuance of the service in view of the many other factors involved, but have relucantly concluded, after full consideration of the representations which they have received from the interests concerned, that this would nut be justified.