HC Deb 05 June 1940 vol 361 cc831-2
13. Sir Henry Morris-Jones

(for Sir Percy Hurd) asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that, despite the lessened road traffic, some highway authorities are still employing large numbers of men on widening roads, altering cambers, setting concrete curbings, roundabouts, and other elaborate alterations; and whether, especially in view of the need of labour on the land, all highway authorities will be not merely advised but directed to cease such work during the war and confine themselves to indispensable repairs?

Sir J. Reith

Highway authorities have been directed that road works are to be closed down at the nearest stage consistent with safety, except in the case of military or other urgent public need. Many roads carrying heavy and abnormal war traffic require more than ordinary maintenance, and whether any particular work is necessary can only be decided on careful examination in each case. This is given by officers of the Ministry and of local authorities, with a view to the minimum being done. County councils have been urged to lend to agriculture as many of their road employés as possible, and arrangements have been made by my right hon. Friends the Ministers of Agriculture, Health and Labour to facilitate transfers. A further circular emphasising this need is about to be issued.

Sir H. Morris-Jones

Has the Minister authority under the Emergency Powers Act to direct local authorities on this matter?

Sir J. Reith

I have understood so.