HC Deb 01 June 1960 vol 624 cc1415-6
8. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the progress made on the Dartford-Purfleet Tunnel and the approach roads; what major measures still require to be carried out before the project is complete; what progress has been made in respect of deciding the scale of toll charges; and whether he is satisfied that in view of the rapid increase in road traffic, the tunnel will be adequate to deal with it.

Mr. Hay

The driving of the tunnel itself has been completed and work on the Essex approaches begun. Tenders will soon be invited for the Kent approach road.

In addition, the tunnel roadway must be built and the ventilating and drainage plant installed. Offices, toll booths and lighting must also be provided. The work is well up to schedule and should be completed in 1962.

The Tunnel Committee is collecting data in order to recommend what toll charges should be made.

The tunnel will make a valuable contribution to the needs of traffic in this area for many years to come.

Mr. Dodds

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that statement. Is he aware that there has been a goad deal of concern on the Kent side because there is no evi- dence of major works being tackled and, until they are completed, the tunnel cannot be used? Further, will he explain to many puzzled people in Kent why toll charges are to be imposed when the other tunnels are free? Is not this a retrograde step, or is there some explanation which will satisfy the people of Kent?

Mr. Hay

In reply to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I would say that there is no doubt that there does not seem to be very much sign of activity on the Kent side, but this is simply because the Kent approach road comes last in the phasing of the programme. The tolls, I understand, are to be the subject of a Private Bill to be presented in the forthcoming Session, and there will be plenty of opportunity then for the whole matter to be debated.

Mr. Sydney Irving

What interests are being consulted in the consideration of the level of tolls, what user interests and what local authorities?

Mr. Hay

I cannot answer that without notice. All I know is that traffic surveys are going on at the moment to ascertain what is likely to be the amount of traffic which will use the tunnel when provided. I know that because I was stopped during one the other day.