HL Deb 02 July 1958 vol 210 cc443-5

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government if they will now state the date upon which tenders will be invited for the work necessary to complete the Oxford Western By-pass; the date on which the work will be started and the date on which the by-pass will be finished and open to traffic.]


My Lords, tenders for the Oxford Western By-pass will be invited by the Berkshire County Council, as agents for the Minister of Transport, on the day after to-morrow, the 4th July. It is expected that Work will start on 1st November and I hope that the by-pass will be completed by April, 1961.


My Lords, would the noble Lord accept my grateful thanks for the helpful nature of his reply, and may I assure him of the satisfaction with which it will be received? But may I ask him why it is that if 153 miles of six-carriageway motor road from London to Birmingham. with 129 bridges, can be completed, according to the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in nineteen months, the three and a half miles of the Oxford Western By-pass, having only five bridges and one viaduct is to take twenty-eight months to complete?


My Lords, when the noble Lord compares the Oxford-Western By-pass with the London-Birmingham motor road, he is not quite comparing like with like. The Oxford-Western By-pass is a much more complicated engineering project than the London-Birmingham road. The Oxford project involves the construction of thirteen bridges including a very complicated one of 116 feet over the Thames. It also involves the construction of the Wolvercut viaduct, which is a major engineering project, over the railway, the canal and the A.40 main London-Fishguard road, nearly 1,000 feet in length. Incidentally, I have placed in the Prince's Chamber a drawing of the viaduct, from which your Lordships will be able to see just how complicated an engineering problem it is. No such complicated engineering feats are required on the London-Birmingham motorway.


My Lords, would the noble Lord again accept my thanks for his helpful answer? May I ask whether it is intended to present the most delightful drawing at present in the Prince's Chamber to those who have laboured these last ten years to get this By-pass started?


My Lords, unfortunately, no. After the trouble I had with the models placed in your Lordships' Chamber some time ago, it was only with the greatest difficulty that I persuaded my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to lend me that picture.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he would say that the Oxford-Western By-pass is a more complicated engineering problem than that with which the contractors have had to deal on the London-Birmingham motorway, of erecting thirty-eight bridges in about half that time?


My Lords, yes, that is precisely what I was trying to convey.


My Lords, may I assure the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, that he is very lucky if one compares this project with the Hand-cross By-pass on which two miles of construction have taken twenty years?