HC Deb 15 January 1964 vol 687 cc212-4
35. Mr. Harper

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give the names of the five judges who selected four designs for a road bridge to span the River Calder at Wakefield.

Mr. Marples

Thejudges for the Calder Bridge Design Competition were—Sir Herbert Manzoni, Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and late City Engineer, Birmingham, who was the Chairman; Sir William Holford, Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Mr. B. H. Broadbent, Chief Civil Engineer of John Laing and Son Ltd.; Mr. J. F. A. Baker, Director of Highway Engineering, Ministry of Transport; and Colonel S. Maynard Lovell, Past President of the Institution of Highway Engineers, County Engineer and Surveyor, West Riding County Council.

Mr. Harper

I thank the Minister for that reply, but may I ask whether he thinks that this was necessary for a bridge? Can he say in which journals the advertisements for the designs were placed, and can he explain how civil servants are expected to come to a proper decision when ostensibly the experts cannot come to it? When can the public expect the winning designs to be published?

Mr. Marples

The winning designs will be made public when they are displayed, with the unsuccessful designs, in the exhibition to be held at the Institution of Civil Engineers between 28th January and 7th February. The decision will not be made by civil servants but by me as the Minister. I am quite certain that it is good to have these competitions from time to time so that new and younger designers can be given a good chance to show more adventurous designs. I think that it is wrong to continue placing designs with old-established firms without bringing in new blood.

Mr. Harper

Why were the applicants not told to send the designs to the Minister instead of to five judges, because he could at least have selected one design instead of having four at his disposal, as he has now?

Mr. Marples

They were examined by five individuals all of whom are very well qualified technically and only one of whom is a civil servant. The final decision cannot be shirked, because it can only be made by the Minister who it accountable to this House.

36. Mr. Harper

asked he Minister of Transport why he has awarded four prizes amounting to £6,000 for designs for one road bridge over the River Calder, near Wakefield.

37. Mr. Jeger

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the circumstances leading to the payment of £6,000 to be shared by four architects for designs for a bridge over the River Calder on the Leeds-Sheffield section of the M1; and who will decide which of the four designs is ultimately selected.

Mr. Marples

In December, 1962, as an incentive to bridge design in this country, I promoted a competition for the design of a major motorway bridge over the River Calder near Wakefield. The panel of judges I appointed recommended the division of the major prize of £5,000 between two competitors.Further prizes up to £3,000 in total could be awarded at the discretion of the panel. In the event, the panel decided to award two subsidiary prizes of £1,000 each. I accepted the panel's recommendations; £7,000 will, therefore, be awarded as prizes.

The winners are firms of consulting engineers; in one case an architect is associated with the engineers.

The panel did not recommend which design should be selected for construction. That decision is mine. The competition conditions do not bind me to build any of the winning designs.

Mr. Jeger

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why it was necessary to award prizes to four architects when only one bridge is required and not four? Will he also explain why it was necessary to give a share in the major prize of £5,000 to the chairman of the Goole Conservative Association? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

Mr. Marples

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there has certainly been no bias that way. The matter has been decided by the five people I appointed, and any innuendo is, therefore, against them and not me. I know nothing about that. The idea of having this competition and of giving prizes is to encourage young people to concentrate on design. It is designed to encourage them and to give them a chance, and I am certain that that is the right policy to pursue.