HC Deb 05 July 1972 vol 840 cc543-4
24. Mr. Roger White

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends, in view of the Loft house Report and the Marshall Report on Highway Maintenance, to introduce legislation to amend the Public Utilities Street Works Act, 1950, to give effect to their recommendations.

Mr. Speed

The Public Utilities Street Works Act conference of interested parties has this matter under consideration, and I shall study any recommendations of that conference for amending legislation.

Mr. White

While expressing gratitude to my hon. Friend, may I remind him that the Act is 22 years old and that many local authorities responsible for highway maintenance are experiencing considerable difficulty? Many of the recommendations made in both reports commend themselves and would assist those authorities in discharging their duties.

Mr. Speed

My Department is preparing a guide to the 1950 Act which will help to improve the knowledge of local authorities. This guide should be published in the autumn. I am anxious that we should make further progress and get on with this matter, which infuriates the public.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Is it not high time that the Government ceased the practice of accepting reports and then passing the buck to a conference or a committee to decide on action or inaction? The Marshall Report should have been acted on many months ago. I agree with the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Roger White) that there are many ideal proposals in the report which should be put into effect as soon as possible.

Mr. Speed

I accept that this is a problem. I am very interested in it and anxious to get on. It was the hon. Gentleman's Government which set up the conference.