HC Deb 28 February 1945 vol 408 cc1386-7
74. Mr. Edgar Granville

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport if he is aware of the growing danger to vehicles due to the serious deterioration in the surface and crumbling of many of the main roads; and what arrangements are in hand for essential repairs.

Mr. Noel-Baker

There has undoubtedly been a general deterioration in the standard of making roads during the war owing to a shortage of labour and materials. In consequence, there has been some deterioration, but I am advised that it has not been enough to endanger or impede the passage of any vehicle. The overtaking of arrears of maintenance must be a first charge upon increased highway labour and resources as they become available, and I may say that more money has been provided in the maintenance estimates for the coming year.

Mr. Granville

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that after five years of war traffic the sections of some main roads are badly crumbling, and are almost unfit for essential traffic? Further, will he bear in mind the effect which these roads have on rubber supplies, and has he ever thought of using prisoners of war to help catch up with repairs?

Mr. Noel-Baker

We have thought of that, and if we could get them we would be happy to use them. We do some maintenance work.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of the worst spots on the roads are on railway bridges, and that local authorities have little or no control over the railway companies? Can he persuade the companies to attend to this matter?

Sir Joseph Lamb

Is it not a question largely of man-power, and is it not a fact that many local authorities have been reduced to using old-age pensioners, who number from 50 to 75 per cent. of their staffs, for this work?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, in general, there is much less than half the labour available than was the case before the War, and much of it is not capable of a very full day's work.