HC Deb 16 March 1955 vol 538 cc1291-2
52. Mr. Grimond

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what assistance the Government intend to give local authorities towards the expenses of snow clearance; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The cost of clearing snow on classified roads is eligible for grant at the normal rates. The cost of clearing snow on trunk roads is of course the responsibility of my Department.

Mr. Grimond

Can the Minister tell us more about the facts, particularly in relation to the effect on poor authorities which, so far as I can see, are going to be very much hampered in their maintenance and repair programmes by the extra cost, especially after a winter which has done great damage to the roads?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As I have said, the hon. Gentleman's Question refers to the clearance of snow, and that work ranks for grant at the normal rate on classified roads. If the hon. Gentleman has in mind a further question about maintenance work, perhaps he will put it on the Order Paper.

Mr. John MacLeod

Is my right hon. Friend aware that having to get snow-clearing equipment from Glasgow to deal with the recent snowstorms in the North of Scotland has proved extremely expensive, and can he not devise some method of having that machinery stationed in the North?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I will gladly look at any proposal about the stationing of the machinery which belongs to my Department, but the general policy is to station it at points from which it can be taken fairly quickly to where it is needed. If my hon. Friend feels that it is not so placed in Scotland, I shall be glad to look into the matter.

Mr. Woodburn

Has the right hon. Gentleman done anything to retain the snow-clearing arrangements which were organised by British Road Services at various depots along the roads, or have they been sold, along with the transport vehicles?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put that question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Vane

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the cost of clearing the snow from many roads is not much more costly and less efficient than he feels it ought to be by reason of the employment by local authorities of equipment which is quite out of date?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There is a great deal of force in what my hon. Friend says, but my own Department's equipment, when available, is lent to local authorities for their work. Our equipment is, I think, pretty up to date.

Sir D. Robertson

Is it not a fact that there is only a very small mileage of trunk roads in the Highland counties in comparison with the number of classified roads, and is it not also a fact that the communities of these remote regions are quite incapable of bearing the heavy cost brought about by the recent storms?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

General questions upon the finance of local authorities as a result of the very severe weather encountered are, I think, not matters for me but for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.