HC Deb 11 December 1950 vol 482 cc794-5
16. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the declaration signed by the United Kingdom and certain European countries approving proposals for building new international roads; and if he will state how far the proposals will extend to the United Kingdom and what will be the cost.

Mr. Barnes

This declaration was signed at Geneva on 16th September, 1950. It has annexed to it a list of international through roads proposed for eventual construction or improvement in order to raise the efficiency of road communications in Europe, together with a statement of minimum standards to which these roads should conform. The list includes certain British roads, such as those from London to Southampton, Folke, stone, Dover and Harwich. The standards are no higher than those already accepted as desirable for our principal highways and the declaration involves no actual commitment since it specifically states that the work can be undertaken only "within the framework of Governments' national programmes for public works or within the possibilities of international financing."

Mr. Russell

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when any of the improvements on the British roads which he has listed will be carried out? Some roads, particularly the London—Southampton road, are every narrow indeed.

Mr. Barnes

The standards for international roads are not higher than those generally prevailing. On the other hand, I have not attempted to evade the fact, in answer to questions on this matter, that at present, owing to financial restrictions, possibly we are not maintaining our roads at the standard we should like. As soon as more funds are available those arrears will be overtaken.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in view of the enormous commitments, financial and otherwise, connected with rearmament it is very unlikely that we can proceed with these general schemes?