HC Deb 16 January 1978 vol 942 cc8-9
7. Mr. Gwynfor Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning responsibility for the Cleddau Bridge; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Barry Jones

Over a period of time a number of suggestions have been made aimed at reducing the debt charges falling on the highway authority, but we have been unable to agree to any of them.

Mr. Evans

Is the Minister aware that by next year Dyfed will have spent no less than £6½ million on interest alone, for which the Government should have accepted responsibility, on the cost of the Cleddau Bridge? Is he aware that there would be a great outcry if this money had been spent on creating jobs in Dyfed, for instance, in making available bilingual signs?

Mr. Barry Jones

The hon. Gentleman might recollect that three deputations from Dyfed have been seen by Ministers. Taking into account the payment of the needs and the resources elements to local authorities in Dyfed, already nearly 3p in every 4p of the net loss on the bridge is met by the Government.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Does the Minister agree that a very heavy burden is falling on both the users and the ratepayers? Is it not a good principle that if an unforeseen disaster occurs the burden should be spread as widely as possible? Will not the Minister again reconsider the recommendation of his own inspector, after a full public inquiry, to transfer the additional cost to the general taxpayer instead of the ratepayer? In the long run, something will have to be done. Why does the Minister put off the decision?

Mr. Barry Jones

I reiterate that this Department has seen three deputations from Dyfed in the lifetime of this Administration. If the hon. Gentleman can bring forward new facts, we shall consider the matter again.

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