HC Deb 16 February 1926 vol 191 cc1708-10
40. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Minister of Transport how much money is at present in the Road Fund; what has been the expenditure to date during the present financial year; and what surplus, if any, he expects to have in hand at the end of the financial year?

Colonel ASHLEY

The cash and investment balances of the Road Fund at 31st December, 1925, were £11,932,713. This figure had temporarily increased to about £19¼ millions at the 31st January as a result of the high collections of duty which are made in the early part of the year. The total payments out of the Road Fund during the 10 months ending 31st January last amounted to about £14,163,000, and the cash balance at the end of the current, financial year is estimated at £17,000,000. It will, of course, be understood that there are always large commitments outstanding against the Fund in respect of grants promised but not yet paid.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Over how many years does the £17,000,000 spread?

Colonel ASHLEY

I must have notice of that Question.

54. Mr. C. EDWARDS

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received letters from the Farmers' Union in Monmouthshire and also from the county council protesting against the threatened use of the Road Fund for any purpose other than that for which it was intended, namely, the construction and maintenance of new roads; and will he state the policy of the Government on this matter?


I constantly receive many letters on this and other topics connected with the finance of the year, but I can only refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 9th February, to similar questions on this subject.

41. Brigadier - General CLIFTON BROWN

asked the Minister of Transport how much has been offered as a grant from the Road Fund to the Middlesex County Council and other local authorities for planting trees along new arterial roads; how much does it cost to plant a mile of these roads with tree; and with the smaller flowering species it is proposed to put in the intervals; and whether it is proposed to give an annual maintenance grant for these trees out of the Road Fund?

Colonel ASHLEY

I have offered a 50 per cent. grant towards an expenditure of £4,202 which the Middlesex County Council propose to incur in planting trees along 24 miles of arterial roads. The estimated cost thus works out at £175 per mile. This does not include smaller species which may later be planted in the intervals and for which no estimate has been submitted. No other grants of this kind have yet been made. The maintenance of the trees will rank for grant at the appropriate classification percentages.

Brigadier-General BROWN

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it more important at the present time to give any spare money like that towards the lessening of the burden of the rural ratepayer rather than towards beautifying these very ugly roads?

Colonel ASHLEY

No, I think the hon. and gallant Member must have a sense of proportion. If you have good roads, their is no reason why you should not have pretty roads, and roads on which it is pleasant to drive.


Why is it that, while the Minister is spending the Road Fund money on planting trees, many rural authorities and local authorities are requiring the owners of land to cut down trees?

Colonel ASHLEY

When they are required to do that, it is a question for the local authority, who know the circumstances.


Are we to take it that, since the Minister of Transport is giving grants for the planting of trees, in future all questions upon afforestation will be answered by the Minister of Transport?

Colonel ASHLEY

- That is another matter.