HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc785-6
13. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take action to end the delay in approving essential local authority road projects; and to what extent this delay is due to the allocation of resources being diverted to priority projects in the north of Scotland.

Mr. Millan

The need to restrain capital expenditure has meant that some local authority road projects have been delayed, but the position is kept under constant review so that delayed schemes may be started as soon as possible. The priority being given to oil-related schemes has not been at the expense of the allocations available for projects elsewhere in Scotland.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my hon. Friend aware that that answer will be appreciated, because councils in Scotland have the definite impression that essential local road development projects are being held up because the moneys which should be used for those purposes are being diverted to the North? Will the Minister give an assurance that, as oil is a national asset, the cost of these road projects arising from the oil boom will be met out of the National Road Fund and certainly not out of the Scottish allocation?

Mr. Millan

I think that there has been a misunderstanding about this, but I repeat that the priority being given to oil-related schemes has not been at the expense of roads elsewhere, and the 20 per cent. cut announced by the previous Government in expenditure for the present year has not applied to oil schemes; but that has not been made up by greater cuts elsewhere. I am happy to give that assurance.

Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison

Is the Minister aware that the inner road in Edinburgh can be delayed for ever?

Mr. Millan

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's strong views on that matter. I do not think that it would be safe for me to commit myself to saying whether I agree with them.