HC Deb 05 February 1957 vol 564 cc224-5
18. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the continued upward trend of prices, he will give an assurance that rigid financial considerations as to the total cost will not adversely affect the commencement of work on the Forth road bridge on the date recently specified.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The Forth Road Bridge Joint Board now has authority to take tenders as soon as it can. The acceptance of tenders will require my right hon. Friend's approval in the normal way, but subject to this the date on which the work will start will be determined by the speed at which the Joint Board is able to complete the plans and take tenders.

Mr. Hamilton

I think the hon. Gentleman has read the Answer to the wrong Question. He has read the Answer to a Written Question. Was not the cost originally given as £.14.3 million? May I ask a supplementary question, however, as though the Minister had given the right Answer? What did the Minister mean by the phrase: Does not materially exceed … £14.3 million"? Is he aware that, in view of rising prices, the cost is likely to be more than £15 million before the date of commencing work on the bridge? Will he give an assurance, if that is the case, that the Government will not use that excuse to stop further progress? Will he give a further assurance that if there is such an increase of £1 million or so it will be borne by the Government and not by the local authorities concerned?

Mr. Macpherson

The difficulty in answering the Question of the hon. Member was to know exactly what he meant by "rigid financial considerations." Provided the tenders received are competitive, I have no reason to suppose that there will be any avoidable delay in starting.

Mr. Speaker rose

Mr. Hamilton

The hon. Gentleman is asking me what the Question means. I told him what it means and asked a supplementary question.

Mr. Speaker

The Minister did not ask the hon. Member what the Question meant. He merely stated that he did not know what it meant.