HC Deb 16 November 1955 vol 546 cc405-7
18. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if the consulting engineers appointed to prepare plans for garages under certain London squares have yet submitted their Reports; and if he will make a statement.

58. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress is being made with the preparation of plans for the construction of parking and garage accommodation under London squares.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, Sir. The designs submitted are ingenious and much useful work has been done on the problems involved. I am placing copies of the Reports in the Library.

In view of the fact that the construction cost per car is higher than would be the case in garages built above ground, and of the damage to amenities in the squares and particularly to the fine trees in Grosvenor and Cavendish Squares, the Government do not feel able to recommend these schemes either to the local authorities, who are the bodies responsible for provision of parking facilities, or to private enterprise.

Mr. Russell

If my right hon. Friend cannot recommend these schemes, what alternative suggestions has he for relieving the streets of London of the appalling number of parked cars which are blocking side streets all over the centre of London? Can he hold out any hope of the provision of surface garages, particularly on the lines of the very easily constructed ones now in use on the Continent?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, Sir, I am endeavouring to encourage this in every way. I think that when Parliament passes the Road Traffic Bill, certain of its Sections will very much help us in this—I agree with my hon. Friend—desperately needed development.

Sir F. Medlicott

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be better to, use the land under some of these squares for car parking purposes than to allow the cars to spread, as they are now doing,. into the carriageways of all the Royal Parks?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am very glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works has felt able to authorise a certain amount of parking in the Royal Parks, which has proved extremely useful to the motoring public. But before going into any detail on these particular schemes, which are most interesting, I suggest that my hon. Friend studies them and particularly the figures of the cost involved.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

In the Reports which are to be placed in the Library, shall we have any indication about not only the cost but the reasons which have-induced the Minister to refrain from recommending their adoption? Experience in other parts of the world—tn. America, for example—is that underground car parks, going six floors below the earth level and having a park on top,. have been exceedingly successful. Why cannot the same thing happen over here?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Nothing I have said indicates that in general there is any fundamental criticism of underground car parks. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that they can be very useful in many places. These Reports, however, relate to, the three particular and rather difficult sites, and, when the right hon. Gentleman studies the Reports, I think he will appreciate the difficulties from the point of view of both amenity and cost which are inherent, in view of the limitations of the site, in these schemes.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Can the Minister give the House an assurance that the recent Government restrictions on capital expenditure by local authorities will not prevent the provision of alternative garage facilities?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I really do not think that that arises out of the Question on the Paper, which relates to these three particular schemes. The hon. Member knows that elsewhere I have discussed this matter with him at great length.