HC Deb 13 May 1964 vol 695 cc412-3
22. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Transport what progress is being made with the construction of the A.19 road in the neighbourhood of Peterlee.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Construction of the diversions at Shotton and Sheraton will start this month.

Schemes for the improvement of the rest of A.19 between Easington and Sheraton are being prepared as part of the special roads programme for the North-East. Orders will be required to establish the routes of diversions and to alter side roads, and land will have to be acquired. We and our agents, the Durham County Council, are conscious of the urgency and are pressing ahead as fast as possible.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that with the present rate of progress it will take several years before this improvement is completed? Is he aware that in reply to a Question by me the Minister of Labour yesterday informed the House that more than 4,000 building and construction workers are registered as unemployed in the County of Durham? Why cannot some of these workers be used to speed up the development of these roads? By the way, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is going to tell me that there must be a great deal of detailed planning, is he aware that nearly five years ago I began to table Questions on this subject?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Yes, Sir. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that difficulties arising from land acquisition and statutory procedures are preventing us from getting on as quickly as we could have wished. At the same time, the urgency is recognised, and we are hopeful that a start will be made on one section in 1965 and that all the sections will begin within the next four years.

Mr. Pentland

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman take full account of what my right hon. Friend said? Does he not think that to have 4,000 building trade and construction workers unemployed in the County of Durham at the present time is a sad reflection on all the promises that the Government have given to the North-East in previous months? Is it not a fact that vital road development schemes submitted by Durham County Council recently have met the strongest possible resistance from his Department?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

No, Sir; I could not accept that. The difficulty, as has often been explained in the House, is in getting through the various procedures which are necessary to acquire the land, the rights of way and so forth. Parliament has decided on a certain balance between the rights of the landowners and householders whose properties lie on the route, on the one hand, and, on the other, the public who need the road.