HC Deb 26 January 1972 vol 829 cc1367-8
6. Mr. Cockeram

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made in the examination of box-girder bridges on the Mersey Tunnel fly-overs at Birkenhead; and when he expects them to be available for use for the purpose for which they were designed.

Mr. Graham Page

The steel box-girder flyovers on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey Tunnel are the responsibility of the County Borough of Birkenhead, with whom I suggest my hon. Friend should get in touch.

Mr. Cockeram

In view of the fiasco of box-girder bridges, will my hon. Friend ensure that those responsible for their design are not employed on further building—bridges, motorways or otherwise—in future?

Mr. Page

That is another question, which I shall consider. I should not have said that it was disastrous all over the country. My Department is helping those local authorities responsible—such as Birkenhead—with advice, and it is doing all it can to see that the bridges are thoroughly examined as quickly as possible.

Mr. Ogden

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that box-girder bridges are on both sides of the Mersey? No box-girder bridge has ever failed once it has been put on site. Is the Minister's Department, and the Departments of his colleagues, not being a little overcautious in the length of time that is being taken on tests?

Mr. Page

It is perfectly true that none has failed, once completed. However, I would not regard it as an abundance of caution to examine them all to make certain that on collapse will occur.

Mr. Tilney

Does not the cost fall, at least partially, on the ratepayers on both sides of the Mersey? Is that not wrong?

Mr. Page

No, because the roads were entirely the responsibility of the local highway authorities. No grant was made out of Government funds for the building of the roads.