HC Deb 25 January 1967 vol 739 cc1493-7

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Transport (1) if she will now make a statement on the development of east-west communications to the city of Kingston-upon-Hull;

(2) if she will make a statement on the proposed Humber bridge.


To ask the Minister of Transport, whether she has now made a decision about the building of the Humber bridge.

Mrs. Castle

With permission, I will now answer Questions Nos. 6, 7 and 99 together

I have been considering these matters in relation to the question of the terminal point for the final section of the Lancashire-Yorkshire motorway

I have decided to make the scheme for this section of M62, joining the A1 near Ferrybridge, as proposed by my predecessor in October, 1965, and to maintain the proposals for the trunk road network between the A1 and Humberside which he then announced. Letters are being sent today to the objectors to the scheme to inform them of this decision and explain it

I have fully considered the arguments put to me last year by several local authorities and by the Humber Bridge Board that the M62 should join the A1 near Ledsham instead of Ferrybridge, and that an alternative trunk road network including a Humber bridge should be adopted, and have taken into account fresh information on estimated traffic flows and construction and operating costs. I am satisfied that my decision in favour of Ferrybridge for the intersection with the A1, which is supported by the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Council and by the West Riding County Council, will make the best use of our capital resources by giving early and progressively increasing benefits to communications with Humberside.

Furthermore, this decision in no way prejudices the prospect of constructing a Humber Bridge as an integral part of any large-scale development on Humber-side. The Government will make decisions on that when they have considered the results of the current planning studies, which are expected to be available in the latter part of this year. The Bridge will be given a place in the road programme so as to fit in with the development, in the 1970s if need be, and meanwhile no time will be lost in pressing ahead with the work necessary to bring the new trunk road network into being.

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that her reply will be a great disappointment to all the local authorities in the East Riding who wanted the terminal at Ledsham? Is she further aware that the uncertainty about the Humber Bridge, which has been debated in the House for over 30 years, has not been set at rest by her statement, and will she make a clear statement telling us when she expects work on this bridge to start?

Mrs. Castle

I am well aware of the views of the East Riding County Council, although these views were opposed by the West Riding County Council. It has been my duty to examine as objectively as I can the traffic needs of Humberside, including the east-west flow. I am confident that this network will be most beneficial for Humberside as a whole. I have made it clear that the Humber Bridge must depend upon the findings of the development survey.

Mr. McNamara

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is just over a year since she said, in my constituency, "You will have your Humber bridge"? Is she further aware that we in Hull are pleased at the progress that the Government are making in establishing effective east-west routes which were neglected by the party opposite, when it was in power, for many years? Can she say on what sort of time scale—the feasibility study having been completed—she expects to know about the bridge, and its starting date?

Mrs. Castle

My memory is clear about what I said in my hon. Friend's constituency. What I have just said accords exactly with what I said then. I said, "You will get your bridge when the development goes ahead." We recognise that it must be an integral part of the development and, as I said in my reply, we hope to have the results of the current planning studies in the latter part of this year.

Mr. Kimball

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the transport section of the regional development board's first year's report says quite clearly that the Humber bridge is essential before the regional development plan of each side of the Humber, North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, can proceed? In view of this report will she give greater priority to the construction of the bridge?

Mrs. Castle

No. On the contrary, if the hon. Member will study the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Council report he will find that it agrees with us that it is essential to give priority to this road network first, although it says—and I have said it in my reply—that as and when development goes forward south of the Humber we shall have to bring the bridge into the problem.

Mr. Peter Walker

Is the right hon. Lady aware that there was not one elector in the Hull by-election who thought that when she declared, to a crowded meeting, "You will have your Humber bridge," a year later she would be standing at that Dispatch Box explaining why they cannot have it now?

Mrs. Castle

On the contrary. The hon. Member knows quite well, or if he cares to turn up the cuttings he will see that my exact words were, "You shall have your bridge when this development goes ahead." We have always made it clear that obviously the Humber bridge is an integral part of the plan for Hum- berside. I am repeating that. The question is simply whether it is better to go ahead with the East Riding network or to have the one which we have proposed. In the interests of Humberside, as was made clear by the Economic Planning Council, the decision we are taking here is the right one.

Sir C. Osborne

Despite whatever was or was not said at a by-election, may I assure the right hon. Lady on behalf of my constituents—since this proposal affects Immingham, in my constituency—that we think that she has made the right decision not to have the bridge at once, since capital is limited? Will she study the requirement for better facilities for Immingham, which is a rapidly developing port, and the possibility of building a road from the South Humber bank to the Midlands before she gives consent to the bridge being built?

Mrs. Castle

I am grateful to the hon. Member, because he recognises what all objective students of the network required in this area recognise, namely, that this is the right order of priorities and that this network will do most to help traffic flows. I shall certainly bear in mind the point made by the hon. Member about Immingham.

Mr. Blackburn

On a point or order. May I ask for your help, Mr. Speaker? May we have the Tannoy system overhauled in this Chamber? Much of what is said is quite inaudible at this end of the Chamber. The only alternative seems to be for hon. Members at that end to take elocution lessons. We cannot hear much of what takes place in the Chamber.

Mr. Speaker

I understand that from time to time there is some difficulty in hearing in the corner of the Chamber to which the hon. Member refers. I will ask the engineers to look into the matter. It helps the House if hon Members speak up.

Mr. Harold Walker

Is the right hon. Lady aware that no matter what divisions may exist in opinion, the East Riding of Yorkshire and the West Riding will be united in their welcome of her statement on this matter about the site of the terminal area? Is she aware that my constituents will see this as a welcome and urgent contribution towards the solution of the east-west traffic congestion in the middle of Doncaster and will she therefore seek to accelerate development in order that it may lead to a contribution towards a solution of that problem?

Mrs. Castle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is hoped to complete the M62 and start work on the A1 Humberside network in the early 1970s.

Mr. Wall

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.