HC Deb 03 February 1960 vol 616 cc984-5
40. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Transport what was the cost per mile of that section of the London to Yorkshire motorway now in use; what will be the cost per mile of the completed motorway; and what will be the total mileage and the total cost.

Mr. Hay

The first 73 miles of the London-Yorkshire motorway have cost about £395,000 per mile. Until the detailed design of the northern section of the motorway is completed, it is not possible to give an accurate estimate of its cost, but preliminary investigations suggest that the cost is likely to be of the order of £425,000 per mile so that the cost per mile of the completed motorway would be about £418,000 per mile. The total length will be about 160 miles and the total cost about £66 million.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that this enormous figure—getting on for £½million a mile—represents a huge subsidy to road transport, to the passenger-carrying and freight-carrying interests concerned, some of which are already running scheduled services from London to Birmingham in direct competition with the railways and many of which are carrying goods and passenger traffic which, if the national interest were the criterion, could and should be carried by British Railways?

Mr. Hay

I should not be prepared to accept that this was an enormous subsidy—

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Gentleman cannot get away from it.

Mr. Hay

—for the simple reason that the taxation yield on vehicles of all kinds in this country is £560 million a year. I do not think this can be regarded as a subsidy to the roads.

Mr. J. Hynd

When the hon. Gentleman talks about the total income from motor taxation, is he referring to the day-to-day upkeep of present roads, or the extension of roads, or comparing it with the railways where the capital costs of all roads being used by the vehicles must be borne by the railway authorities?

Mr. Hay

No, sir. I am talking of the total yield of motor taxation of all kinds.