HC Deb 16 March 1959 vol 602 cc29-30
40. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what ad vice he has received from the London Travel Committee with regard to the expedition of the plans of the London Transport Commission for constructing the proposed new underground railway from Victoria to Walthamstow.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

The Committee has not yet reported to us on this. I understand, however, that the Committee is now examining the proposal for the line.

Mr. Fletcher

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is increasing urgency about the need to start this new tube, which is regarded as the only real solution to the growing traffic congestion in North and North-East London? Will he confirm that, as far as the London Transport Executive is concerned, it is anxious to begin the work?

Mr. Nugent

The London Transport Executive is anxious to begin it, but, as it is a very expensive proposition, estimated to cost between £50 million and £60 million and lose £3 million a year, we need to weigh the pros and cons very carefully to decide whether that money could be better spent in other ways.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Now that there is manpower available and unused capacity in the steel industry, will not the Minister agree that an opportunity does present itself to proceed with the construction of the tube?

Mr. Nugent

I agree that it is an attractive proposition, but we still have to weigh the relative pros and cons between it and any other kind of work in London.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the fact that, after pressure from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey) and from my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead), assurances were given that work on this tube would commence, why is there now any hesitation?

Mr. Nugent

For the reasons I have explained; we are not yet quite sure whether it would be good value.

Mr. Gibson

Will not the Minister agree that, even if it costs £50 million—which is only an estimate—the saving and the help it would give to the people and businesses of London would be well worth while, and it would probably save a good deal more money than that?

Mr. Nugent

Apart from the very large financial implication and the loss which we estimate it would make in running, we are not yet sure whether this would be the best way to spend between £50 million and £60 million in improving London's traffic system.

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