HC Deb 27 June 1962 vol 661 cc1145-6
33. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet reached a decision about the possibility of supplementing the motorways programme with some form of toll roads.

Mr. Marples

No, Sir. Financing motorways by tolls would not necessarily increase the share of physical resources we could devote to highway purposes. The Government's announced policy is not to charge tolls on motorways forming part of the five major projects or planned as early extensions of them. A detailed examination is being made of the possibility of charging tolls on later motorways but no decision has yet been reached on this.

Mr. Digby

Is it not a fact that this is the only way in which motorway programmes can be expedited without great public expenditure? Is it not also a fact that in the United States, where this system has been introduced, the total cost of these toll roads has been paid off in many cases long before expected and there has been a general benefit to road users on other roads?

Mr. Marples

In answer to the last part of the supplementary question, in some parts of the United States the cost has been paid off, and in other cases they have gone bankrupt. Therefore, this has not proved itself as a method of raising money. In any case, even if it raises actual cash, that cash has to be transferred into physical resources, and that is the crux of the problem.

Mr. Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that any proposal to charge tolls on public roads would meet with the strongest objection in this island?

Mr. Marples

I am not unaware of the strong objections on the other side of the House.

Mr. Webster

Before any such proposal is considered, would my right hon. Friend consider first a road loan amortised and generally guaranteed out of road users' taxation?

Mr. Marples

I will look at that but I do not think we want to perpetuate anything like the Road Fund. My correspondence is composed largely of letters from irate motorists saying, "Why do we not go back to the Road Fund? "