§ 30. Mr. L. SMITH
asked the Minister of Transport what steps it is proposed to take during the current year with regard to the replacing of the remaining dangerous and inadequate bridges in Great Britain?
In connection with the provisions of Section 30 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, highway authorities are furnishing me with lists of the weak bridges in their areas in order of priority from the point of view of the need for strengthening or reconstructing. Highway authorities generally have been frequently informed of the readiness of my Department to make grants at the rate of 75 per cent. towards the cost of approved schemes for strengthening or reconstructing weak bridges in the ownership of railway and canal and similar undertakings.
I entirely agree that to push forward with the reconstruction of these bridges is desirable from the point of view of traffic on the roads, as well as the prevention of accidents.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Why have the local authorities not done this kind of thing before, seeing that there has been a very great need for this class of work to be carried out?
§ 40 and 41. Sir GIFFORD FOX
asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether he is aware of the anxiety of those concerned with the operation of road rollers, steam ploughs and threshing engines, as to the inadequacy of many bridges on Class I roads in this country, and particularly as to the further restrictions which may be imposed on the use of these bridges under Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act, 1933; and whether he can indicate the approximate amount which will be available during the present year for the strengthening and reconstruction of such bridges;
§ (2) if he can give an assurance that before the provisions of Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act, 1933, are put into force, a sufficient number of adequate bridges on Class I roads, for the use of road rollers, threshing engines, steam ploughs, and other heavy agricultural vehicles will be provided, especially where no resonable alternative routes are available?
Bridge authorities have power at present, under the Locomotives Act, 1861, to prohibit the use of bridges by locomotives, and the powers to be conferred upon them by the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, do not differ substantially from those which they exercised before the passing of the Road Traffic Act, 1930. In any case, my hon. Friend will appreciate that a bridge is not made safe by merely abstaining from saying that it is unsafe, and it would not be reasonable to debar bridge authorities from putting up restrictive notices where they are justified. I cannot therefore give him the assurance for which he asks, but I anticipate that grants from the Road Fund will be available for any suitable proposals by highway authorities for the strengthening or reconstruction of weak bridges on important Class I roads.
§ Sir G. FOX
Is the Minister aware that for certain agricultural purposes these heavy agricultural engines are essential, 1126 and will he give the matter the most careful and sympathetic consideration so that nothing is clone that will be detrimental to agriculture?
I cannot think that it would be to the benefit of agriculture that these heavy locomotives should fall through weak bridges. I shall certainly do everything I can to expedite the reconstruction of these essential bridges.