HC Deb 16 March 1953 vol 512 cc1817-8
39. Sir D. Robertson

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the letter, dated 11th February, from his Department's divisional road engineer, Edinburgh, to Sutherland County Council instructing that all preparatory work for crofter counties road schemes must stop forthwith and confirming the instructions given to the county road surveyor to have the services of Mr. Miller, crofter counties engineer, terminated; and what arrangements he proposes to make for the reconstruction and maintenance of roads in the county of Sutherland.

Mr. Braithwaite

I am aware of this letter which did not, however, specifically refer to the termination of Mr. Miller's services. Plans have been prepared at the expense of the Road Fund for schemes covering over 40 miles of the 103 miles of road in Sutherland remaining to be dealt with under the crofter counties programme, and expenditure on further planning would not be justified in present circumstances. Provision is being made as usual from the Road Fund for the maintenance and minor improvement of trunk and classified roads in the county.

Sir D. Robertson

Can my hon. Friend say whether his reference to "present circumstances" has anything to do with cash or the appalling state of the roads? Is he not aware that the roads are rapidly deteriorating at a time when we have a very large number of people, including skilled roadmen, paid off and maintained in idleness? Is not that the economy of a lunatic asylum?

Mr. Braithwaite

My hon. Friend's Question referred to the dismissal of a certain gentleman whose duties were concerned only with planning. That gentleman has put before the council sufficient in the way of planned works on the roads to make his services no longer required for the time being.

Mr. Manuel

Could the hon. Gentleman indicate whether the decision to stop this priority work in the crofter counties was taken by his permanent officials in Scotland or here in London?

Mr. Braithwaite

My right hon. Friend is responsible for all decisions.