HC Deb 27 February 1963 vol 672 cc1248-9
31. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Transport what, in the financial year 1961-62, was the yield of all road taxation, the total spent on construction and maintenance of roads, and the loss incurred on the railways.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

In 1961–62, total expenditure, by central and local Government, on roads in Great Britain was £222.9 million. Total receipts from motor vehicle licences and motor vehicle fuel tax were £544.8 million.

The loss incurred on the railways on revenue account for the calendar year 1961 was £150.7 million. I regret that a figure for the Exchequer financial year is not available.

Mr. Ridley

Do not the figures show that there is no doubt whatever that, whereas roads make a considerable profit for the Exchequer, the railways make a considerable loss, and does my hon. and gallant Friend agree that his right hon. Friend's policy in this connection in reducing the number of railways is absolutely justified?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I agree that my right hon. Friend's policy is justified, and I agree also with the proposition as my hon. Friend stated it, but I do not consider that the figures I have stated by themselves give any guidance as to the right level of expenditure on either form of transport.

Mr. H. Hynd

Will the Minister remember that, while many places were inaccessible by road during the recent severe winter conditions, they were still accessible by railway?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Yes, we shall bear that in mind, although I am bound to add that the reverse was the case sometimes, too.

Mr. F. Harris

In view of the appalling damage to the roads through the bad weather, is it Government policy to step up road maintenance in the future both for this reason and in order to provide employment?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

That is another question. If my hon. Friend will put it down, we will see that he has an answer.