HC Deb 07 April 1976 vol 909 cc400-1
2. Mr. Brotherton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest estimated cost of the Humber Bridge.

Mr. Crosland

The latest estimated cost of the bridge and its immediate approach roads that has been published by the Humber Bridge Board is £45 million. This estimate was based on the situation obtaining in August 1975. I understand that the Board will soon be announcing an updated estimate.

Mr. Brotherton

Does the Secretary of State agree that we shall tremble when that figure is published in his constituency and mine? Can he assure the House that even though this "white elephant" is being proceeded with it will not affect the construction of a decent east-west road system, which we require on the south bank of the Humber?

Mr. Crosland

We never tremble in Grimsby, whatever people may do in Louth. As to the substantive part of the question, the hon. Gentleman knows very well that I am aware of the importance of the east-west roads, which affect both his constituency and mine. I can give him the assurance that despite what the expenditure White Paper announced we shall continue to give priority to roads giving access to ports, and there should be no delay.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Can my right hon. Friend tell us how, in road development schemes, whether bridges or otherwise, one distinguishes between "white elephants" and "non-white elephants"? Is there not a need for cost-benefit schemes for all road building development?

Mr. Crosland

There is certainly a crying need for cost-benefit examination of all roads, whether bridges or not. The methods of my Department have come in for some criticism, and when we publish the consultative document shortly we shall describe our cost-benefit methods and ask for any public comment to be made upon them.