British Waterways House of Commons debate

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

House of Commons debates, 24 June 2010, 10:30 am

Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central, Labour)

What plans she (Caroline Spellman, Secretary of State) has for the future of British Waterways.

Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)

I made a statement on Monday 21 June on inland waterways policy for England and Wales. The Government consider that civil society has a valuable role to play in delivering public services as part of the big society. We will be looking in detail at options for a third sector model that will be appropriate for British Waterways, including the possible inclusion of Environment Agency navigations. No decisions will be taken until after the spending review.

Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central, Labour)

The Minister will know that Stoke-on-Trent is blessed with many things, and among them are the great canals of England: the Trent and Mersey and the Caldon canal, where we recently had the Hanley regatta. In order to become a proper third sector organisation, British Waterways needs an appropriate financial settlement following the comprehensive spending review and a longer contract with Government to replace annual grants. Can British Waterways’ property endowment be put in a charity-locked mechanism, so that the Treasury does not sell it down the canal, and we can be assured that, as an example of the big-

John Bercow (Speaker)

Order. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I think that we have the gist of his question.

Richard Benyon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Newbury, Conservative)

I am grateful for all those questions, and I look forward to debating this matter with the hon. Gentleman and other colleagues to whom it is important. I know that he is particularly interested in the heritage of our waterways. The answer to his question is yes. For the third sector model to work, British Waterways will have to have access to its estate, or a large proportion of it, for it to gear up funding for sustainable funding in the future. I can assure him that it will not proceed unless it is locked in in that way. Those are the negotiations that we are taking forward with British Waterways.

via British Waterways: 24 Jun 2010: House of Commons debates (TheyWorkForYou.com).

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