HC Deb 28 January 1959 vol 598 cc1061-2
49. Mr. Partridge

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will make a statement on the progress and future of the road programme.

Mr. Watkinson

I do not intend to depart from my general policy of not announcing lists of schemes far in advance, but measured in terms of expenditure I can say that as compared with an average expenditure on major improvements and new construction over the past four years of £12.3 million, our expenditure this year is likely to be well over £40 million. The approved capital investment programme for next year includes expenditure of over £50 million, and for the year thereafter of over £60 million. It is the intention that thereafter the programme should be planned on a basis of not less than £60 million per annum.

Mr. Partridge

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that all right-minded people are proud of the zeal and enthusiasm with which he is tackling this problem, notwithstanding all that has happened in the recent past?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that the answer is that no one who knows anything about road building deludes himself that we shall be able to build a large number of roads without having any difficulties. I have indicated in my Answer that the Government intend to press on with the programme, despite difficulties.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Can the Minister tell us to what extent there is to be an increase in work to be done? Does he consider it fair to take an average over the last four years in view of the fact that the programme has been accelerated over the last four years? It would be of interest to the House to know to what extent more money is to be spent and more work done over the next few years.

Mr. Watkinson

It the hon. Gentleman studies the Answer, I think he will see that it says that clearly that will happen.