§ 4. Mr. Hooson
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of the proposed closure by British Railways of railways in Mid-Wales and the consequent effect on the livelihood of at least 300 families in Montgomeryshire, if he will now take steps to bring alternative means of employment and alternative means of transport into the area..
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Dr. Charles Hill)
These closures cannot take place until my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has decided what action he will take on the recommendation from the Transport Users' Consultative Committee for Wales and Monmouthshire. Any other action would be premature at this stage.
§ Mr. Hooson
Does not the Minister consider that action, to be effective, must be taken before the affected families leave the area; otherwise, the trend to depopulation in the area is accentuated?
§ Mr. C. Hughes
On a point of order. Can you assist me, Mr. Speaker. This Question has been passed by the Table and presumably, therefore, is in order. 178 It is a Question addressed to the Minister of Housing and Local Government on the affairs of two Departments over which he has no executive authority.
§ Mr. Speaker
Would it suit the hon. Member if we investigated this at some other time and not in the middle of Questions? I will instruct myself on it and find out what it is all about so as not to take up time now.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
Is my right hon. Friend aware whether this is part of the Liberal promise, namely, that they can balance the accounts of British Railways, and keep all the railway lines open, wherever they are?
§ 5. Mr. Hooson
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what steps he is taking to implement the policy of Her Majesty's Government to build up existing towns in Mid-Wales in order to assist in attracting suitable industries there.
§ Mr. Hooson
Does the Minister consider that, in order to afford guidance in future to those authorities and bodies concerned with attracting industries to Mid-Wales towns, he should now disclose the precise reasons for refusing to approve the proposed Government factory for the Antler organisation at Welshpool, and, if so, when can we expect these detailed reasons to be given?
§ Mr. C. Hughes
Is it not abundantly clear by now that, after a century of depopulation in Mid-Wales, the only hope is the policy advocated by the Labour Party, namely, the proper and planned distribution of industry?
§ Dr. Hill
The solution of the problem of depopulation in Mid-Wales lies in 179 the attraction of a number of small industries properly distributed throughout Mid-Wales. I am fully alive to this problem of depopulation, and I am doing my utmost in that direction. As the hon. Gentleman knows, an economic survey of the general problems of Mid-Wales is now proceeding.