§ 53. Mr. Sparks
asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to relieve the British Transport Commission of the cost of maintaining public roads over railway and canal bridges.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
This is primarily a matter for negotiation between the British Transport Commission and the local highway authorities. Discussion has already taken place, with the assistance of my Department, between representatives on both sides and will, I hope, soon be resumed.
§ Mr. Sparks
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that state of affairs has continued for a considerable time? Will he give any assistance he can towards the removal of this anomaly?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Quite useful talks have been taking place. The Commission would like it all done at the expense of the Exchequer, but I have made plain that that cannot be so. We are, however, anxious for useful talks between the local authorities and the Commission.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams
As this discussion has been going on for a considerable time, and as the roads and bridges are deteriorating very rapidly, will the Minister do what he can to expedite a conclusion in this matter?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It is the duty of the Commission, as heirs of the previous operators, to maintain bridges and their roads in perpetuity. I am anxious to do what I can to help, and I think that our line of conduct is the best.
§ Mr. Manuel
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these bridges are now quite unfit for the traffic which they have to carry, and that in the case in Ayrshire, where a bridge collapsed under a heavy load, the Ministry are withholding permission to strengthen the bridge, to enable the volume of traffic at that particular place to be safely carried?