HL Deb 12 February 1946 vol 139 cc417-23


Name of trunk road. General description of route. Ministry of war Transport classification number.

LORD SALTOUN moved, after the reference to Dennyloanhead-Kincardine-Kirkcaldy-St. Andrews road, to insert:

"Edinburgh—Inverkeithing Edinburgh—South A.90."

The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment which stands in my name I will not take up much of your Lordships' time. I would just like to remark that I always understood these trunk roads were first established very largely for strategic purposes. It happens that according to the Bill now before your Lordships when the trunk road gets as far north as Edinburgh it there stops and does not go on until we get to Inverkeithing. I do not know whether it is supposed that the enemy will occupy the space in between, or when the connexion between the two branches of the road is to be established. If I may quote from a poet who is not Robbie Burns, perhaps His Majesty's Government may choose the method "that like the nousling mole doth make his path still underground until he overtake." Or perhaps they are going to fly the distance. It does seem that it is necessary to make a connexion, and I move that it-be made.

Amendment moved—

Page 27, line 48, at end insert—

("Edinburgh—Inverkeithing Edinburgh—South A.90.")

—(Lord Saltoun).


Before I say anything on this, perhaps I ought to disclose the fact that this road from South Queensferry to Edinburgh runs almost entirely through my land, although I think no one who has seen the plans will think it will improve my land in any way—probably the reverse. I would like to call Lord Walkden's attention to the fact that we have been striving for and still hope to have a Forth Bridge one of these days. When we get out of the Forth Bridge on one side or the other, we have got to go either to Perth one way or to Edinburgh the other. It does seem to me that it must have been an error on the part of the Cabinet, probably due to the fact that we had not got a single Scots member in it except Mr. Westwood, who has been ill for four months, that this road was omitted. I am quite sure that after careful consideration on the part of the Government they will accept this Amendment standing in tie name of my noble friends, Lord Saltoun and the Earl of Elgin.


I wish to support this Amendment. The noble Earl, Lord Elgin, a joint sponsor of it with Lord Saltoun, telephoned yesterday from a bed of sickness, and asked me to apologize to your Lordships for the fact that he is prevented from being here to speak in support of the Amendment. Your Lordships who were present in the House on February 5 will be aware of the noble Earl's views. In a debate in another place, the Minister said that certain arrangements had been made in regard to the construction of a bridge, and that therefore the matter was not so important; but surely the mere fact that any arrangements may have been made, or may even be in contemplation, for a bridge makes it more than ever necessary that the road referred to by noble Lords who have spoken, from Edinburgh to Inverkeithing via South Queensferry and North Queensferry, should be scheduled on the list of trunk roads. As your Lordships will be aware, by including that section from Edinburgh to Inverkeithing via South Queensferry and North Queensferry there would be a saving of some thirty miles in the journey to the north from Edinburgh to Perth. I think it is essential that this gap should be filled, and I beg to support the Amendment that this addition be made to the Schedule.


I do not know whether a mere Englishman may be allowed to say a word on this topic, but, as a great many of your Lordships know just as well as I do, this road is certainly one of the most important links between the Lowlands—as I suppose they are called—and the Highlands What occurs to me is this. We are hoping to develop the tourist industry in this country, and I trust that that hope will be realized. I am certain that the bulk of the tourists coming over here, it may be from America or from other countries, will want to see the Forth Bridge. If there is any proof of that required I may recall that during the war, as no doubt many of your Lordships know, swarms of American soldiers and swarms of all sorts of other people went to Edinburgh, and took the first bus they could catch to go straight to South Queensferry to look at the Forth Bridge. They then crossed the Forth by the Ferry and away they went up to Inverkeithing on the other side. I am certain that a road bridge across the Forth somewhere in that area would be a most valuable link and would do more to encourage tourist traffic than almost anything else that could be done in that part of the world. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accede to the requests made in this matter to-day.


I would just like in a word to support the Amendment. As one coming from further north I think this would be a very valuable addition to our road system and a great attraction for tourist traffic. I hope it will not be delayed until a new Forth Bridge has been decided upon. We already have the railway bridge over the Forth, and if this project which we are now discussing is put off until the new bridge is decided upon we may have to wait for a long time. I think it is important that the road should be made a trunk road forthwith.


If there are two points upon which Scottish desires are unanimous they are that there should be a Scottish airport and that there should be a road across the Forth. I cannot see why when we are discussing a trunk road Bill that particular aspect should be left out. I hope that the fact that it has been left out hitherto has been due solely to the illness of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I cannot help thinking that if he had been a fit man at the time when this Bill was drawn up a Forth road bridge would have been mentioned. I do hope and trust that Scotland may be sympathetically treated by your Lordships and that ere long we shall have not only a Scottish airport but also a direct road running north and south from what is described as the Lowlands to what I may perhaps call the Lowlands of the north—that is Dundee and Aberdeenshire. I hope that the noble Lord who is in charge of this Bill will undertake to have this put in at the Report stage if it is not done now.


This was a subject of some quite pleasant passages in the Second Reading debate, and the whole matter was thrashed out pretty thoroughly then. But it has been raised once more on this Amendment for which the noble Earl, Lord Elgin, and Lord Saltoun are responsible. I am sure that we all regret that owing to illness the noble Earl is not able to be present. Personally I have always found his contributions to our debates most refreshing. There are two propositions raised on the Amendment, and I may say at once that we do not share the pessimism of the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, about the new Forth Bridge. No one need be pessimistic about that. Agreement has been reached between the associated local authorities in Scotland and the Ministry of Transport. Terms have been agreed, and the bridge is going to be made as soon as labour and materials are available. Do not let there be any lingering dubiety on that score. The Minister has undertaken to provide a 75 per cent. grant and the local authorities will be responsible for the remaining 25 per cent. The bridge will be built. Now the only remaining point is whether these two roads, one from Edinburgh to Queensferry and the other from Queens-ferry to Inverkeithing—


There are two Queensferrys, one on each side of the Forth—South Queensferry and North Queensferry.


I am obliged for the correction. Many years ago, like the curious soldiers to whom reference has been made, when I went to Scotland on my first journey I lost no time in going to see the Forth Bridge. I went along this very road from Edinburgh to South Queensferry. I did not go over the private ferry that would have taken me across to North Queensferry. That has been the subject of some criticism, but it is a piece of private enterprise for which we are not responsible. Then with regard to the road from North Queensferry to Inverkeithing, this and the other road are both first-class roads—they are listed as Ago, I believe. The grant towards upkeep will be raised now to 75 per cent. It would have been only 60 per cent. if arrangements had not been made recently to increase it—so something has been done "while you wait," so to speak. But the proposal for taking over the two roads is one to which my right honourable friend the Minister cannot agree.

The making of the Forth Bridge is going to cause a difference to both roads. About half way along the road from Edinburgh it will deviate to the left and cut along to a spot called Mackintosh's Rock—that, of course, is not the sort of rock which a boy buys at a shop and eats, but a place. It is from there that the bridge will start, then the route will go away to the north on a new road, better than either of the roads we are talking about. Therefore, the Minister objects to taking over the old road when there is going to be some new road and a new bridge. Having regard to these matters, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw this Amendment on my assurance that this matter is closely in the mind of the Minister. It was first considered by the former Minister of Transport, Lord Leathers, who went up to see these places in July last. The present Minister has been up north himself and has clinched the matter. In due course no doubt both road and bridge will be built, then we shall be able to go to the Highlands—those of us who are able to travel north by car—under much better conditions than we are able to do at the present time.


I think we are all aware that there is going to be a new road from Edinburgh to South Queensferry. That was the road to which I referred and to which most noble Lords have referred. I have seen the plans, and that is the road which we hope will be put in the National Trunk Road Bill. So far as I can make cut the only hope we are given is that the grant is going up from 60 per cent. to 75 per cent.—and the Government is haggling over this meagre matter of 15 per cent. in dealing with a road which is one of the most important not only in Scotland but in Britain. As the noble Earl, Lord Howe, has said, we all want to encourage the tourist traffic of this country. We want as many people as possible to go north and we hope then that as many of them as can do so will make use of the road. Lord Walkden has said that he used it years ago. Why cannot the Government give way over this? It is a very paltry matter after all. They have spent plenty of money in other ways, why cannot they spend this paltry sum in Scotland? If this was in England the money would be forthcoming.


I am very much obliged to the noble Lord for his sympathetic reply, but there is one question I should like to ask. Can he give me any indication of the time when we may expect the road?


We want to get the bridge made first. Then we shall know where the road will be. There are two ideas about the bridge and the Minister favoured the Mackintosh Rock.


It has finally been decided by both Governments. The bridge plan, the Mackintosh Rock bridge and the plan for the new road have been agreed.


It is no good making the road up to the Mackintosh Rock before the bridge is there and as for making the whole of the road to South Queens-ferry, a large part of it is going to be set aside and diverted westwards to go up to Mackintosh Rock. From North Queens-ferry to Inverkeithing we want to make the road straight, as at present it wriggles like a worm.


We are getting very mixed on this side because we thought that the Mackintosh Rock was in the middle of the river!


Whether it is in the river or not it is going to be used, we hope, as a base for the new bridge.


The noble Lord is still unable to give any suggestion as to when we may hope for the date?


Our difficulties of labour and materials are so great that we cannot give you a date. I hope you will let it rest where I have put it. It will be carried out in due course.


I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

First Schedule agreed to.

Remaining Schedules agreed to.