HC Deb 09 December 1968 vol 775 cc16-9
13. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Transport what plans the Government has for extinguishing ancient tolls on bridges; and if he will make a statement.

49. Mr. Brooks

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will list in the OFFICIAL REPORT those sections of the British highways network where tolls are levied; and what are the criteria which determine which sections are to be toll bearing.

Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister of Transport what plans the Government have for eliminating bridge tolls on highways; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Carmichael

I am circulating a list of tolls on trunk, principal and other classified roads in England in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Questions about tolls in Scotland and Wales are for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State. It is our policy that major new estuarial crossings which will provide exceptional savings in cost and time to the users should be tolled. Highway authorities have powers to acquire private toll rights under Section 233 of the Highways Act, 1959, but we would expect them, before using these powers, to consider whether the benefit to traffic would justify the cost of acquisition.

My right hon. Friend has no plans to change these policies.

Mr. Marten

As neither of the major parties can ever find the money to pay compensation to extinguish the tolls, will the Minister seriously consider the proposition that the toll bridge owners be given a period of years—say, 15—after which tolls would be automatically extinguished on these private bridges?

Mr. Carmichael

I have great sympathy with the hon. Gentleman, who will remember that I have taken the matter up at some length. Legislation would be required, and it would probably be rather complicated. I doubt whether it is the sort of thing Parliament would be willing to give time for at this stage.

Mr. Brooks

Is my hon. Friend aware that on Merseyside we are not so much worried about the ancient tolls as some new ones being introduced? I thought that it was always firmly intended that the Mersey Tunnel should cease to be toll-bearing after a specific period when the Government decided that the toll should not operate.

Name Location Route Relevant Statute
Tolls in Public Ownership
Dartford-Purfleet, Thames Tunnel. Kent/Essex A282 Dartford Tunnel Act 1957
Mersey Tunnel Birkenhead/Liverpool A41 Mersey Tunnel Act 1925
Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge. Middlesbrough/Co. Durham. A178 Middlesbrough Corporation Act 1933.
Old Shoreham Bridge West Sussex A27 21 Geo. III. Cap. XXXV, 1780
Sandwich Bridge Kent A256 Sandwich Bridge Act 1755
Severn Bridge Glos./Mon. M4 Severn Bridge Tolls Act 1965
Tamar Bridge, Plymouth Devon/Cornwall A38/A388 Tamar Bridge Act 1957
Tyne Tunnel Jarrow/Howden, Northumberland. A108 Tyne Tunnel Act 1960
Tolls in Private Ownership
Dunham Bridge Lindsey, Lincs. A57 Dunham Bridge Act 1830
Clifton Suspension Bridge Bristol B3129 Clifton Suspension Bridge Act 1861.
Rixton and Warburton Bridge Cheshire B5159 Rixton and Warburton Toll Bridge Act 1863.
Selby Bridge Yorks, East and West Ridings. A19 Selby Toll Bridge Act 1791
Shard Bridge Kent A588 Shard Bridge Act 1862
Swinford Bridge Berks/Oxon. A4141 Swinford Bridge Act 1766 and 1767
Whitchurch Bridge Berks/Oxon. B471
Whitney Bridge Hertfordshire A438 Whitney Bridge Act 1779 and 1796.
Mr. Carmichael

That was the decision, but when the additional tunnel was to be made it was decided that the toll should be continued in order to help finance it.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my hon. Friend concentrate his attention on the tax-free ancient toll bridges? Is he aware that in the case of several in England not only are the incomes tax-free but when the owner dies they are death-duty-free? Will he undertake to discuss with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the taxing of the incomes from such bridges?

Mr. Carmichael

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. It has been brought to his attention, and he is fully aware of it.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in Scotland his party was elected to power on a pledge that these tolls were indefensible? Instead of abolishing them, the Government are increasing them in Scotland.

Mr. Carmichael

The Scottish question is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. But the principle is that where there is a direct saving to the user, particularly on the estuaries, there should be tolls. This is the policy that the Ministry of Transport has followed for some time.

Following is the information:

Name Location Route Relevant Statute
Aldwarke Bridge (South of Easingwold) Yorks, N/W Riding Aldwarke Bridge Act, 1772.
Batheaston Bridge Somerset
Catford Bridge, Little Eccleston Lancs.
Eling Bridge Southampton