HC Deb 20 February 1957 vol 565 cc405-6
17. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in view of his decision that no new major bridge project in this country can be authorised unless it includes provision for the levying of tolls upon those using it, whether it is his intention still to devote part of the funds available for major road improvement to freeing existing toll bridges; and what particular schemes involving grants from his Department for the freeing of toll bridges on major roads have been approved at the present time by him.

Mr. Watkinson

At present, expenditure on the redemption of tolls on existing bridges must take a much lower priority than many other road improvements. The policy on new or re-constructed bridges is to free from tolls those in the ordinary road programme, such as Selby bridge or Conway bridge, but to impose tolls on certain major bridge or tunnel projects, such as Dartford-Purfleet tunnel or the Tyne crossing.

Captain Pilkington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that tolls are a very retrograde step, in that they inevitably mean long queues of cars wasting time, money and petrol waiting for tickets?

Mr. Watkinson

I cannot agree at all. Toll on major bridges and their associated roadways are used all over the world, and if they make it easier for me to get on with building bridges I am only too glad to make use of them.

Mr. Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that tolls were very useful and commonly in use on most of the major roads in the United States, but there is now a general feeling that that policy was wrong and a movement in the opposite direction?

Mr. Watkinson

My understanding is that this is the result of the tolls having already paid for the bridges.

Mr. J. Hynd

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that it is the intention of the Government by this progressive policy of toll bridges to give every encouragement to the restoration of stage coaches on these roads?