HC Deb 10 November 1953 vol 520 cc762-4
24. Mr. Hoy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the letter from the Scottish Licensed Trade Defence Association regarding the Forth Road Bridge; and what reply he has sent

35. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what organisations have made representations to him in the last three months on the question of the Forth Road Bridge; and what was the nature of his reply.

Mr. J. Stuart

During the last three months I have received representations from the Angus Burghs Association, seven other Scottish burghs, the Scottish Commercial Travellers Association and the Scottish Licensed Trade Defence Association. I have explained that because of the volume of other urgent and essential road works, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport cannot authorise the starting of the construction of a bridge this year or in the near future.

Mr. Hoy

Will the Secretary of State, in view of all the representations, have another conference with the Minister of Transport on this matter; secondly, would he care to define what is meant by "the immediate future"?

Mr. Stuart

I have constant meetings with my right hon. Friend and we often discuss this matter, but I cannot give any definite date. The best I can say at the moment—I do not wish to evade the question—is that in the near future we do not see a likelihood of being able to approve this.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that considerable despair and despondency has been caused by some remarks of Ministers in recent time in regard to this project?

Lady Tweedsmuir

Is it not a fact that a panel of civil engineers has been asked to investigate the possibility of building a road bridge over the present Forth Bridge and, if their findings are satisfactory, I understand that there might be an estimate within the region of £20 million using light alloys? Could the Secretary of State therefore not give his approval to such a project if it were feasible?

Mr. Stuart

As my hon. Friend has said, that is being examined, and we shall of course await the results.

Mr. Hamilton

Can the Secretary of State explain what representations he has made to the Cabinet, and what steps he has taken to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the various political and economic interests that have made protests to him? It is quite clearly not a political matter, so would he make representations to that effect to the Prime Minister and within the Cabinet?

Mr. Stuart

I should not divulge what takes place in the Cabinet. All I can say is that resources of money and materials have to be taken into consideration, and there are many urgent works required, both for improvement and maintenance, throughout the country.