HC Deb 08 March 1967 vol 742 cc1514-5
19. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Transport if she will now seek to abolish ancient toll bridges on all roads.

Mr. Swingler

I have nothing to add to the Answer given on this subject to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler) on 1st March. [Vol. 742, c. 97.]

Mr. Marten

That Answer said that the local authorities had the power to pay compensation to abolish tolls, but that they did not have the money. Is the Minister aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) and I share a toll bridge, created in 1766, since when tolls have been exacted from all travellers crossing the bridge? Could he look at the proposition that a term of years might be fixed after which no more tolls could be gathered?

Mr. Swingler

My right hon. Friend is prepared to look at any proposal on this matter, but we have to take into account traffic considerations and how far they require new bridges to be built. In the case referred to, this is not a principal road; it is entirely a matter for the county councils of Oxford and Berkshire.

Mr. Manuel

Could my hon. Friend answer this Question with the removal of the word "ancient"?

Mr. Swingler

My right hon. Friend has said that save in exceptional cases we are not in favour of the imposition of tolls. One case when we were was the Severn Bridge, but we are dealing with comparatively few cases which we have inherited where traffic considerations and the other things to be taken into account in road schemes do not require us to take action at the moment. If the local authorities wish to do so, my right hon. Friend will consider their proposals.

Mr. Neave

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many privately-owned toll bridges there are in the country, and, if I put down the appropriate Question, would he say what revenue is gained from them?

Mr. Swingler

I would prefer the hon. Gentleman to put that Question down, when I will give him as accurate an answer as I can.