HC Deb 03 February 1971 vol 810 cc1649-50
9. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will investigate the reasons for the delay in the planning and construction of the proposed Mussel-burgh by-pass road.

Mr. Younger

Extensive preliminary investigations were needed in connection with the Musselburgh and Tranent bypasses. My right hon. Friend has just received the final report of the consultants, about which he will shortly be consulting local authorities in the area.

Mr. Strang

Is the Under-Secretary aware that that complacent reply just is not good enough? Has he forgotten that in September of last year he wrote to me saying that the soil reports would be available shortly and that in a few weeks he would be contacting the local authorities about the line of the road? What are the Scottish Office's intentions about the road and when is it intended to start building it?

Mr. Younger

I well remember the correspondence I had with the hon. Gentleman. As I think the hon. Gentle. man knows, considerable difficulties were thrown up by the extensive soil investigations which were needed to survey more than one possible line for this road, and these necessitated further tests and further bores to establish the best possible line. This is why it has taken longer than it otherwise would have done. I hope to get it on as soon as possible.

Mr. David Steel

Does not the Under-Secretary realise that as motorway developments have proceeded apace both west and north of Edinburgh it has become more and more apparent that we need not only the by-pass at Musselburgh but a by-pass for the whole of the City of Edinburgh as well and that without it there is no clearance for the Scottish motorway programme?

Mr. Younger

The line for the Mussel-burgh and Tranent by-passes is affected by the possible changes there may be in the Edinburgh-link road system. This is another factor which we must take into account.

Mr. Mackintosh

Is the Under-Secretary aware that many of the local authorities, and myself, are dubious about the figures by which there is a separation between the Musselburgh and Tranent sections of the by-pass? We believe that a single section should be built into Edinburgh from the east and we cannot see any reason for holding this up depending on the link-up. We believe that the motorway could be built without the line of the link road being fixed. We hope that the hon. Gentleman will consider this in the very useful consultations he has allowed between his Department and the local authorities.

Mr. Younger

I hope that it will not be necessary to hold this up, but we must bear in mind all the effects of the various considerations. On 29th January I received one copy of the report of the consultants. As soon as the report is printed it will be circulated to the local authorities concerned and we shall seek their views.