HC Deb 23 July 1958 vol 592 cc409-10
47. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is now able to announce the roads programme to be undertaken on the completion of the present four-year programme.

Mr. Watkinson

Preparatory work for the extension of the road programme is going ahead. I propose to stick to my policy of giving priority to getting work in hand rather than to announcing detailed plans a long way ahead.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Does the Minister fully appreciate the necessity of announcing his programme as soon as possible in order that the present tempo of the road programme can be maintained? If adequate preliminary work is not done, there will unquestionably be a slowing down of the present programme, and it is most desirable that the present capital equipment should continue to be employed.

Mr. Watkinson

I quite accept that. We will, of course, have to step up to the planned level of spending of £60 million on new road construction. We have not yet attained that level, although we shall do so. I agree that quite a lot of the preliminary work has to go on, and it is to go on.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Ought not the roads programme to be announced on what is called a moving total basis; that is to say, at a particular period of each year, to announce the programme for the next succeeding four years?

Mr. Watkinson

If my hon. Friend really means that he wants us to issue enormous lists of schemes years ahead, which may or may not be carried out when it is said that they will be, I am frankly opposed to that. Our job is to build roads, and not to worry about hypothetical schemes in the future. The preparatory work is going on, and the building work is going on at a faster rate than ever before, and I think that, on the whole, we are not making bad progress.