HC Deb 21 June 1920 vol 130 cc1718-9
24. Mr. JESSON

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the Essex county council, through which the Government is making its road grant to Walthamstow, proposes to allocate only £12,500 to the Walthamstow urban district council, subject to that body spending a further sum of £65,000 upon improving the road surfaces of their district; if he can state why the East Ham borough council is to receive £72,000 for the same purpose, seeing that, while the respective populations of both districts are about the same, the road surface of Walthamstow is considerably greater than that of East Ham; and if he will state why Walthamstow is treated in this manner?


No true comparison can be instituted between the grants made to an urban district council which is only responsible for the maintenance of district roads and those made to a county borough which is responsible for the maintenance of all highways within its administrative area. The grant of £12,500 made to the Walthamstow urban district council is towards the improvement of district roads, and forms part of a total grant of £351,000 made to the Essex county council towards the improvement of main and district roads within its area. East Ham, being a county borough, is responsible for the maintenance of all highways within its area, and it was in respect of this that the grant of £72,000 was made.


Can the hon. Gentleman say why such a great distinction is made between two authorities which are on practically the same level?


That raises the question of the distinction between main roads and secondary roads. The classifying of main roads is now being undertaken, and it is the policy of the State to subsidise main roads at a greater rate than bye-ways which are district roads.