HC Deb 25 May 1960 vol 624 cc442-3
42. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the consideration he has given to the road traffic conditions caused by the opening of Tower Bridge because of the priority conferred on shipping using the Thames by the Tower Bridge Act, 1875, what action is now being taken to improve the situation for road users.

Mr. Marples

Tower Bridge has, since it was opened in 1894, provided an additional crossing of the Thames for road traffic subject to occasional interruption and consequent inconvenience. The basic compromise of the Act of 1885 must be maintained, but shipping interests are co-operating in various minor alleviations and the prevention of abuses, as I have recently informed the hon. Member in my letters to him of 3rd and 20th May.

Mr. Dodds

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the efforts he has been making to bring some common sense into a fantastically out-of-date procedure which is very unfair to road users, may I ask if he thinks that he will get the co-operation he is seeking to see that modern conditions are dealt with without having fresh legislation, or is he satisfied with the present law?

Mr. Marples

It is a difficult situation, because there are many conflicting interests here and it is always difficult to reconcile them. For example, 2,300 men work in the Pool of London. Their interests would be affected if we closed the bridge, and £11 million is invested there. Ships must pass under the bridge to get into the Pool of London. It is a question of reconciling conflicting interests—one of those cases where the Minister is neutral between the fire brigade and the fire and whatever he does will be wrong.