HL Deb 23 July 1959 vol 218 cc443-5

3.7 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I think a few words are called for explaining to your Lordships the purport of this Motion. It is divided into three parts. The first deals with the height of the fences running along the sides of the bridge. Standing Order No. 131 requires that the fences alongside all bridges built under an Act of Parliament shall be not less than 4 feet high. It is now generally considered that this figure is out of date, and I understand that it was made in the days of horses. The Minister of Transport, who is naturally very much concerned with this matter, entirely agrees, I understand, that this figure is excessive. I should also like to mention that the measurements proposed for the Humber Bridge are the same as those now being used for the Forth Road Bridge, and those measurements were authorised as long ago as 1946; namely, 3 feet 6 inches high for the fences. I am informed that if the fence is 4 feet high, a motorist just cannot see out of his car anything at all. I am also informed that for aesthetic and aero-dynamic reasons, not to mention financial reasons, it is advantageous to have a lower figure of 3 feet 6 inches for the roadways and 3 feet 9 inches for the footways.

I have placed in the Prince's Chamber a section model of this bridge, together with a photograph, and from those your Lordships will see that in this case there is a central footway between the two roadways. This central footway is entirely separated from the roadways, and there is a space between the footway and the roadways on either side, so that the fences of the roadways do not coincide with the fences of the footway, and thereby access from one to the other is prevented. The House may be interested to know that I am informed that the span of this bridge, which is 4,536 feet in length, will be the longest single span of any bridge in the world. I would also mention that on Monday next the House will be asked to approve an alteration in this particular Standing Order, so that this point is not likely to arise in the future, if the alteration is agreed to; and the new words will be, if your Lordships agree to them, that there must be "a good and sufficient fence," and no measurement will be mentioned at all.

The second part of this Motion refers to another Standing Order, No. 147, which requires that three days before the Third Reading of a Private Bill the Bill must be deposited with Government Departments. Shortly, the position is that unless this Standing Order is dispensed with to-day this Bill will not be able to receive the Royal Assent before the Recess, because Amendments to that Bill have been made by this House and they require the agreement of the House of Commons. Your Lordships may be glad to know that the Bill was in fact deposited two days ago, so that the difference between what was actually done and the Standing Order is only in fact one day. I have heard of no objection to this proposal, and I would therefore ask the House to agree with it so that this Bill can become law at an early date. The third part of the Motion is that this Bill be now read a third time; and, accordingly, I beg to move.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Unopposed Bill Committee on the Humber Bridge Bill that, notwithstanding Standing Order No. 131, the fences of the bridge authorised by the Bill should be three feet nine inches high on either side of that part of the bridge reserved for pedestrians and three feet six inches high on either side of the carriageway for motor traffic: That Standing Order No. 147 be considered in order to its being dispensed with in respect of the said Bill: and that the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Merthyr.)


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, for that explanation; I wanted to know what the explanation was. There are two points that occur to me. First, so far as I can gather there is no opposition to this proposal, and I have consulted my colleagues who agree with that: we have no objection as a technical proposal. The other point of importance is the question of the suspension of the Standing Order. In the circumstances, no one wishes to oppose that suspension for this purpose to-day, but I hope that something can be devised, and I hope the noble Earl the Leader of the House will agree, so that such Bills as are in this position can be covered by formal Resolution of the House without our having to suspend a Standing Order. I hope that can be agreed.


My Lords, I can only say that both points which have been made by the noble Viscount will be given careful attention. I am not quite sure what the answer to the second of them is, but I undertake to examine the question.

On Question, Motion agreed to; Bill read 3a accordingly, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.