HC Deb 16 November 1955 vol 546 cc401-3
12. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the amount authorised for new road construction and major improvements for the financial year ended 5th April, 1955; what amount of that sum was actually spent; what amount is authorised for the present financial year; and what amount he expects will actually be spent by 5th April, 1956.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The total amount provided for payments in 1954–55 was £5,048,000, of which £4,927,000 was actually spent. The amount provided this year is £8,314,000 and I expect this amount to be spent. If my hon. Friend is referring to schemes authorised, the total provision in 1954–55 was £19,360,000 but the value of the schemes actually authorised was £20,027,000. The provision for schemes to be authorised this year is £29,830,000, and I expect to authorise schemes to that amount.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in recent years the estimates have not been fully spent? As he has said, under £5 million was spent on Government account last year. Is he further aware that local authorities have recently been disturbed by the circular calling for economy generally? Can he assure local authorities that the road programme will go ahead, and that the Exchequer and local authorities will spend up to the Estimates this year?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As far as the road programme going ahead is concerned, I need only refer my hon. Friend to the specific assurance given on that point recently both by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can the right hon. Gentleman say in which of the mass of figures he has just given is any provision being made to remedy the appalling state of affairs which exists at Hyde Park Corner?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think that is a separate question.

20. Captain Pilkington

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give an assurance that progress in the Government proposals for road improvement will continue in accordance with the original plans both as regards extent and timing.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, Sir.

Captain Pilkington

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that when all these road improvements have been completed, the congestion will, because of the increase of vehicles on the roads, be just as bad then as it is now, with all the waste and inefficiency that that means? While I appreciate that there is financial difficulty at the moment, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he can assure the House that as soon as things get a little easier the Government will give top priority to further improvements?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not think I can go further than to invite my hon. and gallant Friend's attention to what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said recently on precisely that question.

Mr. Beresford Craddock

Can my right hon. Friend say when it is likely that a start will be made on the Staines by-pass?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Not without notice.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Is it not a fact that the hon. and gallant Member has understated the facts, and that when these schemes are completed the situation will not be similar to what it is now, but will have grown worse?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are only too well aware of the problems caused by the very great increase of traffic, actual and potential, over the next few years with which we have to deal when handicapped by the heavy backlog of work with which we are now faced.

47. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many schemes for road development and reconstruction affecting or requiring the demolition of domestic housing have been sanctioned by him; how many of these are likely to be in operation within the next five years; and how many houses are thus affected.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

A very large number of the schemes I have authorised and intend to authorise and complete during the next five years will require the demolition of domestic housing. I cannot at this stage give the hon. Member the number of houses or the date when they will be affected.

Mr. Sorensen

Can the Minister not give at least some approximate idea of the number of houses to be demolished, thus adding to the housing difficulty? Furthermore, are all householders thus to be affected, or those who have been affected, left to their own devices to find alternative accommodation?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In reply to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, over a five-year period, in view of the very large number of schemes that are being undertaken, I really cannot give a figure relating to houses. Questions of rehousing are, I think, on the whole not matters for me.

48. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to what extent the compensation paid to householders affected by road development and reconstruction covers all the expenses involved in the surrender of their houses, including removal and loss of market value through public knowledge of impending road schemes affecting that property.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The level of compensation payable in respect of property acquired for highway development, as for other public purposes, is that laid down by Part III of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1954.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether that is adequate to the needs of those who have to leave their houses? If necessary, would he be prepared to see a deputation of hon. Members from both sides of the House on this matter as it affects their own constituents?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The question of a proper level of compensation when property is acquired for public purposes is not one for me to decide. If the hon. Member wishes a deputation to be seen, he should take it to one of my right hon. Friends.

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