HC Deb 12 July 1922 vol 156 cc1216-7
38. Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether his Department has compiled, or is compiling, a list of the main roads of the country which need entire re-construction to carry modern heavy motor traffic; whether the scheduling of such roads is left solely to the local authorities; and whether the Minister of Transport has any powers to expedite action in this direction?


Although no such lists as mentioned in my hon. Friend's question has been prepared, the Ministry through its divisional road engineers is kept fully informed as to the main roads calling for special treatment and by contributions from the road fund, local authorities are enabled to expedite the work.


Could not this information be equally well got from the various county surveyors and engineers?


No, certainly not. The position is that our road engineers are working in closest co-operation with the county engineers, and I am satisfied that very great public economies are effected.

Colonel ASHLEY

Surely the county engineer is a very competent officer?


I have not in the least thrown any doubt upon the competency of the county engineers, but the Government is making grants, and in respect of those grants there are conferences being held which, I am satisfied, will lead to economies.

Sir W. de FRECE

Has the Ministry of Transport any power to take action against local authorities which do not reconstruct the roads of their districts?


No; we have no legal powers.

39. Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, under the Circular of l5th June offering assistance to local authorities in connection with road work, complete reconstruction of existing roads to carry modern motor traffic is barred from participation; and whether, since the circumstances are particularly favourable for such work to be taken in hand and large scale operations of this nature would revive employment both for firms supplying the material and also for those actually carrying out the undertaking, this Circular can be reconsidered?


Schemes for the reconstruction of existing roads do not, generally speaking, lend themselves to the employment of large numbers of unskilled men, and, therefore, no particular mention is made of this class of work in the Circular of 15th June, in which highway authorities were invited to submit schemes which could be initiated with a view to relieving unemployment. The Minister is, however, rendering assistance towards the reconstruction of existing I and II Class roads under the terms of Circular No. 150, issued on 22nd May last, while roads not so classified will, within the limits of the funds available, be assisted under the terms of Circular No. 158, issued on 22nd June last.