§ 22. Mr. Bessell
asked the Minister of Transport what steps in the process of land acquisition for motorways and all-purpose roads can be carried out simultaneously; and if he will make such a procedure standard practice in order to eliminate unnecessary delays.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
Proceedings for the compulsory acquisition of land for motorways and trunk roads are, so far as practicable, taken concurrently with the proceedings for making the schemes and orders which settle the lines on which those roads are to be built and the consequential alterations of the existing roads.
§ Mr. Bessell
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the amount of time it takes to acquire land for motorway and all-purpose road construction? Will he consider introducing the necessary legislation to speed up this process?
§ Mr. Fraser
It might be desirable to speed up the process. This matter is constantly under review and it is only proper that I should inform the House that as the road programme has been planned for some years—in other words, this is not something that has happened only recently—Governments have always given themselves time to carry through all the procedures, statutory and administrative, by the time it is anticipated that it will be possible to find the necessary resources to put the project in hand. That is the position at present, and it would be foolish of me to pretend that I could speed up the road programme merely by speeding up these processes.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Instead of spending almost unlimited money on new roads in one way or the other at a time of financial crisis, would not the right hon. Gentleman be better employed in trying 458 to get more traffic back on the railways, which are only half-used? At a time when we are really up against it financially, would it not be wise to use the railways more fully instead of spending money in this direction?
§ Mr. Fraser
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I think that I shall be serving the interests of the country well if I can get some traffic off the roads and on to the railways.
§ Mr. Costain
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that I recently sent him a letter from a constituent—I have had another today—saying that the railways are losing so many of his goods that he is having to send them by road? What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to improve the efficiency of the railways in carrying goods?