HC Deb 04 April 1973 vol 854 cc436-7
19. Mr. Doig

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the estimated cost of the proposed new road bridge at Perth; and if it will be a toll bridge.

Mr. Younger

The estimated cost is £4 million. The bridge will not be subject to tolls.

Mr. Doig

Is the Minister aware that this is a form of discrimination between one route and another? Is he not aware that the effect of this will be slightly to shorten the route at Government expense? There will be no tolls for traffic travelling on one route but there will be tolls for traffic going the other way over the Tay Road Bridge, which is at present the shorter route. Has the Minister considered the effect this will have on the revenue of the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board?

Mr. Younger

That will have to be considered when the bridge is constructed. This Government's policy is the same as that of the previous Government: that tolls are levied on major new estuarial crossings which provide exceptional benefits to the users in the saving of time and expense. Tolls are charged throughout the country on such crossings of estuaries. I hardly feel that this bridge could be described as crossing an estuary.

Sir J. Gilmour

Can my hon. Friend say how long it will be before the bridge is connected to the existing motorway system?

Mr. Younger

I cannot, because this is the subject of planning procedures upon which objections have been lodged. All I can say is that we are trying to resolve them as quickly as possible but at the present time it is not possible to determine how long this will take.

Mr. MacArthur

There is a pressing need for the new bridge. Will my hon. Friend give any indication when it is likely to be completed?

Mr. Younger

That depends how long it takes to resolve the planning and objection problems which have arisen. The bridge is expected to take about three years to build once a start has been made, which we hope will be next year, but that depends on the resolution of legal proceedings.