HC Deb 10 March 1965 vol 708 cc395-7
21. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Transport how many contracts have been placed for new motorway construction since 15th October, 1964.

Mr. Swingler

Four. I am circulating particulars in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Item No. Contract (1) Date let (2) Contractor (3) Tender Sum (4)
1 Durham Motorway: advance earthworks, Ricknall Carrs. 4th November, 1964 Dowsett Engineering Construction Ltd. £293,527
2 Durham Motorway: advance construction of bridges. 30th November, 1964 Reed and Mallik Ltd. £585,012
3 London-Yorkshire Motorway: Contract LY/CP (Nuthall to Pinxton). 3rd December, 1964 Geo. Wimpey & Co. Ltd. £5,543,595
4 Tinsley Viaduct 5th February, 1965 Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd. Around £4,500,000 subject to negotiations
28. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give the number of miles of motorways that have been built for the years 1962, 1963 and 1964, and the estimated mileage for 1965, 1966, and 1967, respectively.

Mr. Tom Fraser

49¼, 95 and 8¼ miles; and 76, 85 and 93¼ miles.

Mr. Wainwright

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the complete programme of the previous Government was less than that of any Government on the Continent in comparison with population? Does he also realise that experts have

Mr. Farr

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of disquiet and concern in the country, because it is felt that the Government will allow the impetus of our motorway construction programme to grind to a halt? Can the Minister say, for example, whether, in particular, the section of the M.1 between Markfield and the River Trent, which is scheduled for opening in July this year, is up to date?

Mr. Swingler

I do not know whether these rumours come from the country or from the hon. Member. They have no basis. This is exactly the same number as for the same period last year, but two of these contracts were together worth £10 million and during this time we have invited tenders for six more motorway contracts.

Mr. Bessell

Do any of the contracts let since 15th October apply to the South-West and, in particular, to the A.38?

Mr. Swingler

If the hon. Member will put that question down, I will give him the particulars.

said that over a period of 13½ years, slowly but surely, because of the delays to traffic, the cost to this country reached last year a total of £400 million? Will he make certain that the future programme by this Government will be adequate, so that we shall be proud of the Labour Government in this country?

Mr. Fraser

It is the fact that most other developed countries in Europe have done better in the provision of highways than we have in this country for a number of years, and I do not think that there is any doubt but that we suffer a disadvantage to our economy because of the inadequacy of our highway system. Bearing these things in mind, it will be my endeavour to do rather better during my long term of office at this Ministry than any of my predecessors have done.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the mileage of roads in this country compared with a corresponding area in France?

Mr. Fraser

I cannot, but that is another question. The Question that I was asked related to the building of motorways and the great new arteries which have been built in many parts of the world. We had built practically none until a few years ago.

Mr. Galbraith

Is not the question a little disingenuous, and would not an entirely different picture be presented if, instead of taking the calendar year, the hon. Member for the Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), who asked the Question, had taken the financial year? That would have shown that many more than 8½ miles were built in 1964. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how he is going to extend the programme beyond the programme laid down by the late Government when, at an earlier stage, he said that he hoped to do no better than that?

Mr. Fraser

The trouble with the previous Government was that they laid down a programme but forgot to provide the resources to enable the programme to be carried out.

Dealing with the serious part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it is true that if the financial year were taken it would show a different figure, because in January of this year 32½ miles of motorway were opened. That does not come into the calendar year 1964. If we take the financial year 1964–65, the mileage completed is 52.