HC Deb 16 November 1955 vol 546 cc412-3
57. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will cause inquiries to be made into the reason for the slowness in the methods of road construction and repair in this country as compared with other countries, particularly the United States of America, with a view to more speedy and economical methods being adopted here.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

So far as improvement of existing roads is concerned, I do not think, when due account is taken of different circumstances, that our speed of work compares unfavourably with that in foreign countries. So far as entirely new roads are concerned, I think we have a great deal to learn from foreign experience, and my engineers have not only recently visited but are in constant touch with certain foreign countries in order to gain from their experience.

Sir F. Medlicott

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the cost-plus basis-of working is not being used, as it is notoriously slow? Is he aware that the most economical method of construction is the speediest one?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am answering a Question about the cost-plus method today. My hon. Friend must make allowances for the fact that the construction of new roads in this country has, not, in substance, taken place for some years, and, therefore, getting both skilled staff and plant together takes a little time.

Mr. Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the Road Research Laboratory gets adequate funds for this purpose? Is he aware that a year or two ago the Select Committee on Estimates expressed the opinion that greater funds put at the disposal of the Road Research Laboratory would actually result in economies being made in road construction?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The Road Research Laboratory does immensely valuable work which is of great assistance to my Department, but a question about the adequacy of its estimates is a matter for my noble Friend, the Lord President of the Council, who is responsible for the Laboratory.