HC Deb 28 October 1953 vol 518 cc2793-4
44. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what representations have been made to him in the last three months concerning the delay in beginning the construction of the Forth Road Bridge; what reply he has made to such representations; and what are the factors now mainly responsible for the delay.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Association of County Councils in Scotland, two county councils, four burgh councils, the Angus Burghs' Association and the Midlothian Trades Council have protested to me against my decision that I could not authorise the construction of the bridge in the near future. I have replied that, before reaching this decision, I gave due weight to all the considerations advanced. The funds at my disposal for road works generally are insufficient to allow so expensive a scheme to proceed.

Mr. Hamilton

Why are the right hon. Gentleman and the Treasury stonewalling continually upon this issue? Does he not realise that, so far as my information is concerned, only two individuals in Scotland are really against this, the Joint Under-Secretary of State who is the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart) and the Tory candidate in Fife, West, and that, apart from them, there is an all-party demand for immediate action? Why are the Government still extravagant in refusing to sanction at any rate the first four years' work on this very essential project?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, I am appointing an independent panel of civil engineers to investigate a scheme whereby the existing bridge may become a dual purpose bridge. In regard to his general charge I would say that there is also a wide body of opinion in Scotland that regards the building of the Whiteinch Tunnel and the improvement of the Glasgow to Stirling road as matters that ought to come first.

Sir W. Darling

Have there been any representations against the building of the Forth Bridge in Scotland?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

No, but there very soon would be if, by building it, we could do nothing else.

Mr. Manuel

What consultation has the Minister had with the Scottish Ministers on this question of the Forth Road Bridge, and what has been their advice given to him? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are becoming increasingly resentful in Scotland at decisions being taken here about projects in Scotland, and that we think they ought to be decisions of people in Scotland?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Government speak on this, as on everything else, with a united voice.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Will my right hon. Friend be very careful to make sure that the priority of the Whiteinch Tunnel is not infringed by pressure groups on that side of the House?

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that the two projects are not mutually exclusive, and that there is no reason why this should not be proceeded with, especially as the Whiteinch Tunnel must be built for a water bore?