§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, because of the great and increasing need of improved road traffic facilities between the areas affected, they will proceed without further delay with the construction of a bridge over the River Severn; if necessary imposing a toll, so that no charge would ultimately fall upon public funds.]
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (THE EARL OF SELKIRK)
My Lords, as the House is aware, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation met representatives of the local authorities and other commercial and industrial interests concerned to discuss proposals for the crossing of the River Severn. There was full agreement in regard to the general lines the bridge should take and that it would be partly, at least, if not wholly, financed by tolls. The scheme, in the opinion of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, will cost somewhere between £14 and £16 million. The Minister recognised quite frankly the economic value of the bridge to the country, but at the present time he was not able to say what priority in construction he was able to give to the bridge. He hopes to be able to reach a decision on this matter in six months.
My Lords, I am greatly obliged to the noble Earl for the Answer which he has just given. May I ask him one supplementary question: namely, if construction of the bridge has to he deferred for a substantial time—which I hope it will not be—will the Government give consideration to improving the ferry facilities which, without saying anything against the owners of the ferry (I do not know who they are), cannot now be described as very efficient?
§ THE EARL, OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I will certainly report what the noble Lord says to my right honourable friend. I am afraid that at the moment I have not the answer to the point.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I think the proposals we have made, leading at the present time to the crossing of the Thames at one place and the Clyde at another, represent at least some improvement on what the noble Earl has said.