HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc363-4
3. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the date at which he expects all sections of the road between Fort William and Mallaig will be brought up to A road standard.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Improvements on the 2¾ miles from the junction with A.82 to Annat should be largely completed by spring, 1966. Widening the remaining 30 miles of single carriageway will cost about £2½ million and my right hon. Friend cannot yet find a place in the road programme for this large commitment.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, unless the road conditions between Lochailort and Mallaig, which are at present intolerable, are soon improved, they will deter the very tourist traffic for which the car ferries were designed? May we have his assurance that the bottleneck across the Caledonian Canal at Banavie, which gives direct access to the pulp mill, will receive urgent consideration? There was no provision at all by the last Government for the replacement of this bridge.

Dr. Mabon

These are all matters of priority and, as the hon. Gentleman will realise, certain improvements have been made. I confess that, in the area between Lochailort and Mallaig, all that has been done is an aerial survey over the section from Arisaig to Mallaig to try to see where active improvements can be made in the foreseeable future. It is true that no provision has yet been made for the bridge, but my right hon. Friend hopes to provide a new double width swing bridge over the canal at a cost of £150,000. But it will be difficult to find a place for this for some time to come in the trunk road programme.

Mr. Woodburn

Will my hon. Friend encourage all right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to see this road for themselves? It passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and if hon. Members were to see it they would come back enthusiastic to supply the money.

Dr. Mahon

Not only that, but the rise in traffic on this road would be so enormous that, if hon. Members responded to my right hon. Friend's plea, we would have a good case to give it even greater priority.