HL Deb 21 July 1960 vol 225 cc612-29

4.44 p.m.

LORD FERRIERrose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the proposed construction of the southern approach road to the new Forth Road Bridge, which is designed to channel the traffic from the bridge into the City of Edinburgh, whereas plans exist for the construction of a by-pass road round the south of the City; and, if so, whether they propose to bring forward the completion of the by-pass to synchronise with the completion of the bridge as originally intended. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in seeking your Lordships' permission to ask the second and unstarred Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper to-day. I should like to preface my remarks with an expression of my appreciation of the consideration and the patience which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, who is going to reply, has shown towards my persistence in this matter of the Edinburgh bypass road, particularly as we have had many interviews and discussions since the matter was debated on November 4 last. These discussions have only sharpened my anxiety about the traffic problem in Edinburgh, with its threat to the unique identity of the City. My anxieties are shared by many.

Further, since November 4 I have had the opportunity of crossing the Sydney Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, many toll bridges around New York, and the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal—all toll bridges that have either paid for themselves out of tolls or are well on the way to doing so. I need not mention the magnitude of the network of approach roads by which these toll bridges are fed with the streams of traffic which they carry. Suffice it to say that we must face the fact that we in this country lag behind the rest of the world in road planning.

I should like to describe Edinburgh's problem geographically, simply to illustrate the point of my Question. If we take Edinburgh as being in the form of a semi-circle, the chord being the southern hank of the Firth of Forth, with Leith and Granton ports upon it, and the are spreading southwards until it touches the foothills of the Pentlands, the by-pass, as already outlined in the plans which go back for many years, roughly follows the are of the semi-circle which stretches southwards. Five or six miles to the west of the City of Edinburgh the old Forth Bridge stands, and just west of it again the Forth Road Bridge, which should, if all goes well and according to plan, be completed in 1963, will stand and pour a large proportion of its load into what amounts to almost acul-de-sacformed by the Firth of Forth, the City of Edinburgh, and the Pentland Hills.

In my view, the Government are to be commended for having brought forward this important bridge. My complaint is that they have not gone far enough. I have reason to believe that in some quarters the intention, when this bridge was brought forward, was to bring forward at the same time the by-pass road to the south of Edinburgh. Indeed, that was the original plan. Going back 20 years or more, it was intended that the bridge and the by-pass road should synchronise. The disadvantage of bringing forward the bridge has been that the carefully prepared all-Scotland plan of road development, involving the expenditure of £40 million spread over four years, has had to be trimmed by the amount involved, not only in this bridge but in the tunnels under the Clyde. In other words, other most important work included in this £40 million programme has had to be cut in order to compensate for so much of the cost of the bridge as falls into the four years. I think I am right in saying that the total cost is £17 million, of which £10 to £11 million come out of this 4-year programme.

The by-pass problem seems to me to divide itself into three questions. First of all, is the by-pass really desirable or necessary? Secondly, if so, when is it needed? Thirdly, where is the necessary treasure to be found? To the first question—is it desirable?—Is think your Lordships will agree that the answer is, Yes. There is no need to labour this point. If money were no object, a bypass round the south of Edinburgh would be necessary, both traffic-wise and amenity-wise: especially amenity-wise, where we are dealing with a show city and shopping centre, which is the case with the City of Edinburgh, is it necessary; and I propose to show that it is.

I believe that even without the Forth Road Bridge the by-pass, if not necessary today, will be necessary, as it were, to-morrow to cope with the rapidly growing traffic falling on its roads; and not only through traffic passing through Edinburgh from South to North or North to South, but traffic which has to circumvent the Pentland Hills. One must remember that the Pentland Hills stretch for 22 miles from Edinburgh in a southwesterly direction, with no road across them; and when those hills are first crossed by road at Newbigging by Carnwath it is not really a main road at all. The Pentland Hills offer a very major barrier to transport between the South and the East, and the North and the West, the latter including the industrial belt which, as we all gladly welcome, is to be rendered still more important by the British Motor Corporation developments at Bathgate. There are five roads into Edinburgh from the South and East—the A.1, along the coast, and A.68, from Lauder, the A.7, from Galashiels, the A.701 from Peebles and the A.702 from Biggar. Then we have the wedge of the Pentland Hills and out to the North and West we have the A.7, "The Lang Whang" to Lanark, the A.71 to Motherwell, the A.8, the Edinburgh-Glasgow road, the A.9 to Stirling and the A.90 to the Ferry; and that, of course, is a continuation of the A.1, the main route from London to the North.

If I digress for a moment, I would point out that the existing so-called "ring road" in the centre of Edinburgh runs through streets and residential areas and is no practical solution at all. On it there are seven "Halt" signs and the whole road is so twisted and in places so steep that it is quite unsuitable for industrial traffic. Indeed, as many of us know, it is quite difficult to find, even in a passenger vehicle. Improvements which, in my view, can be regarded only as palliatives, are mooted and estimated to cost £750,000. I wonder whether this will not be wasted money. In my view, the Forth Road Bridge will alter the whole pattern of road traffic in Eastern Scotland. Many people, like myself, anticipate massive additions to existingtraffic pressure into the partialcul-de-sacI have described. After all, it is the natural development of the A.1—A.90 main road to and from the North. A survey of the traffic is being attempted, but such a survey is very difficult because it is an estimate of traffic which does not exist. Admittedly, the Ferry is there, but we all know that the Ferry is not really a carrier of road traffic as we know it to-day; and it means that estimates have to be taken which are really guesses.

Experience elsewhere is that such estimates have almost invariably proved too low and to fall far short of actual experience. I cite for your Lordships' reference the case of the Mersey Tunnel. I believe I am right in saying that that tunnel, having paid for itself, is now carrying four times the traffic which the original survey estimated it would carry in 1960. For these reasons, then, I be lieve the by-pass road is not only desirable but necessary.

That brings me to my second question: if so, when? I feel that the answer is now, and not only because of the length of time it will take to build. Although the requisite land has been sterilised, an enormous amount of formality has to be overcome and detailed plans prepared. I believe the answer is now, if only to save the £750,000 that the City of Edinburgh is planning to spend on the ring road. I further say now, to reduce the size and cost of the approach road which I mentioned in the first part of my Question and which is, as now contracted for: a double carriageway road, turning south and east from the Road Bridge into the Queensferry Road, and single carriageway route at Dalmeny, which, as your Lordships will know, leads to the West End, over the Dean Bridge. I believe, also, that the answer is now on account of Scotland's present unemployment position.

Unemployment is at too high a level in Scotland, and although mechanical road construction admittedly does not employ large numbers of men on the job, one must remember that behind the machines stand the men who make and service them and the men who produce the materials, the stone and metal, the bitumen and the pre-cast concrete units, the steel and all the rest of the materials that go to make up the massive operation which a modern road involves. I believe that construction of this kind in Scotland would be a contribution towards the present unemployment position there.

If the by-pass is necessary, and now—and I believe all are agreed, as I am sure the noble Lord the Minister of State will agree, that the by-pass is going to be necessary at some time and probably soon—we come to my third point; and this is the real crux of the matter. How is it to be paid for? Who pays? I should like to turn to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, in the debate in your Lordships' House on November 4 last, when, dealing with this matter, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 219, col. 375]: The responsibility for roads to the Forth Bridge around Edinburgh tics in the first place with the Edinburgh Corporation. Their Development Plan includes an outer circular road, comprising existing roads with some new sections, which may cost about £750,000, and as a long-term project, a completely new city by-pass extending for eight miles and costing about £2 million. I am sure that the Edinburgh Corporation will consider seriously whether this outer circular road—not the ring road—should not be completed in time for the opening of the bridge.

That, at this moment of time, Edinburgh is responsible is doubtless true, but I challenge the wisdom of this situation on the grounds of equity. An amount of £2 million for a by-pass road is a large sum of money for a city the size of Edinburgh to face, if, as I believe I have shown and will go on to show, it is not purely for city purposes. I am not suggesting that Edinburgh would not bear a proportion of the cost, but I suggest that in fairness the proportion would be small. For instance, presumably the city would contribute what they would save on the ring road if it were to be put forward to-day—and a bit more. But surely the by-pass is, in fact, a through route. If we may speak of the Hyde Park Corner reconstruction, we find that the fact is that central funds are to be provided to the extent of £3½ million towards its cost. Would not some similar treatment, though of course on a smaller scale, be fairly applied to Edinburgh? It is not for me to press this point.

My suggestion is this: here we are to have a toll bridge. The toll is presumably intended to service and amortise the bridge. If so, surely it is plain bad business to charge the cost of that bridge above the line. I believe it should be below the line. It should be funded, and if this were to be conceded arithmetic shows that some £10 million would be set free to reinstate the truncated overall plan of which I spoke earlier in my speech. I say that arithmetically, because there are many complications in connection with dealings between the Scottish Office and Treasury of which I have not very much knowledge. At the same time, this figure in the neighbourhood of £10 million would meet the heart's desire of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, which is the completion of the duplication of the Glasgow—Edinburgh road, with its very high accident rate and really dire need of improvement, and also pay the lion's share of a by-pass round the South of Edinburgh.

But may I urge the Government and the Treasury to examine this subject as carefully and as sympathetically as they can? Was there not at one time some talk of a consortium to finance the bridge? Perhaps even a joint effort could be arranged, perhaps with Scottish banks or financial interests to contribute to the funding of such an operation. My Lords, if I have not said enough to establish the case I make, I have a letter here from Lord Stuart of Findhorn, who regretted that he could not be here this afternoon because he has an engagement in Scotland. I need not remind your Lordships of the length of time he was at the Scottish Office. I would quote the words of his letter: I had always visualised, in conjunction with the Forth Bridge, that a road should be made by-passing Edinburgh to the South. Without going into detail and not being precise as to the exact route, my view is still definite that this should be pushed forward as soon as possible.

He goes on to say: This would keep out of the centre of the city all traffic from the East and South going West and North, and not stopping in Edinburgh. It would obviously reduce the heavy traffic coming into the East End of Princes Street from A.1 and into the East or West ends from the Jedburgh and Langholm roads. Both ends of Princes Street in particular are heavily congested and will soon be even more urgently in need of relief. I hope that this is clear enough—and you may, if you wish, quote any of the above as my strongly held view.

Thus, my noble friend has put my case in a nutshell.

Before I end, I would say that, as this is not a full dress debate, I have deliberately refrained from expanding this question of traffic congestion; nor have I mentioned some of the cities possessing less architectural or æsthetic significance than the City of Edinburgh which nevertheless possess by-pass roads; nor have I referred to the national need for better communications; nor to the disadvantage we suffer from lack of co-ordinated planning; nor to the relation between good roads and traffic accidents, nor to Scotland's special claims. All these are perfectly well understood by your Lordships. However, if nevertheless I have been importunate, I apologise for my importunity but consider my excuse to be valid. I feel sure, indeed, that there is more that could be said and that other noble Lords will be able to fill in the gaps if necessary. I beg to ask the Question in my name.

5.4 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Ferrier has explained in detail and with great clarity the reasons why this by-pass road is so important. There are, however, two further reasons which I should like to put to my noble friend. The first is from the defence angle. I am not going into any specific details about the places involved, because they are all part of the defence scheme of this country and it cannot be known to a person like myself where they would be. But it will be within the recollection of your Lordships that in the last war a large part of the North-West—in fact, nearly the whole of the North-West—of Scotland was a very heavily restricted area; and one cannot possibly say where, in the unfortunate event of another war, there would be installations demanding a heavy flow of through-traffic.

Apart from that, it is, or should be, part of the defence scheme of this country that there should be an uninterrupted flow of traffic from North to South, avoiding all dangerous bottlenecks such as are at the moment inevitable, when traffic is funnelled into the City of Edinburgh. Then there is the Turnhouse Airport, outside the city. That, like all airports dealing very largely with internal traffic, has a large number of its passengers arriving direct at the airfield in their own car. If this by-pass were constructed, certainly so far as I am concerned, as well as other people in that area, we should no longer have to go through the middle of Edinburgh, as is the case at present. I do not want to delay your Lordships for long. Those are the two points I want to make. But, over and above that, it really is quite astonishing that at this time of road planning a road should be deliberately constructed to go straight into the middle of a town, instead of a by-pass being built around the outside. I feel that this matter is highly important, and I hope that my noble friend will be able to give some sort of a satisfactory answer as to the reasons for this. Money surely ought to be available for such a scheme.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, I rise for a moment to support the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, in the Question he has put to Her Majesty's Government. I do not now have a very close connection with Scotland, but I visit the country from time to time, and I can bear witness to what he says about the appalling congestion which occurs, even now, at both ends of Princes Street. One of the troubles one can see is that if people are driving into Edinburgh from the North, along the road leading to Shandwick Place, and they see that looks full, they turn traffic down to Queen Street and pour into that very beautiful part of Edinburgh new town, turning it into one more wretched congested street. That problem is sure to increase when the Forth Bridge is made, because far more traffic, which at present may go South from Stirling or cross over the Kincardine Bridge, avoiding Edinburgh, is bound to pour across Forth Bridge and into the bottleneck to which the noble Lord referred.

There is another point which is very important. If a city like Edinburgh is to be made into one great bottleneck, with congestion at both ends, there is bound to be a big increase in the number of street accidents, in the number of vehicles damaged and in the number of people who are killed or injured. At present we are all extremely worried about casualties on our roads. It seems to me to be a very bad piece of planning to carry out work like this, which is obviously going to encourage, rather than discourage, accidents. That is another reason why I very much hope that the noble Lord who is going to reply will be able to give us some encouragement.

The third point I should like to make is rather to confirm what the noble Lord said. If you are going to build a toll bridge, and expect to get money from the tolls paid for the bridge, why not make your traffic approaches as good as you possibly can, so as to encourage traffic on the bridge, rather than discourage it by making conditions so impossible? One can see the appalling effect of bad approaches to bridges by the present Kincardine Bridge. Last summer, I was driving from Edinburgh to lunch with some cousins at Bridge of Earn. Unfortunately, I had left it a bit late in the car, and I said, "We will not go over the ferry, we will go over the Kincardine Bridge." That was a very great mistake. I got blocked all the way from Kincardine to Bridge of Earn, and I arrived at my lunch certainly one hour late, whereas if I had gone the other way round, across the ferry, I should have got there in time. So one ought not to have a big new bridge with bad approaches. This is foolish planning, and almost a waste of money.

There is one further point. We have spent a large amount of time talking about traffic congestion in Oxford. There have been many speakers in the past; debates lasting four or five hours; and innumerable plans promised by the Minister of Transport. I admit that Oxford is a very historic and a very beautiful City, but I do not think it can lay claim to anything which the City of Edinburgh cannot. Therefore I trust that the same amount of interest will be given to the traffic problems of Edinburgh as has been given to the traffic problems of Oxford, and that we shall have a very favourable reply from the Government to-day.

5.13 p.m.


My Lords, I want to say only a very few words, as I feel that my noble friend Lord Ferrier has put the case for the approach roads to this bridge so well. In my opinion, there are only four or five towns in the whole of this country that people would deliberately drive through rather than drive round via a by-pass; and Edinburgh is one of them. Therefore, we must have a first-class by-pass in order to encourage them to use it, instead of going through the middle of the town. The present Edinburgh ring road is a series of roads through the suburbs of Edinburgh. Every time you get to one of the main cross-roads, you have to halt on the ring road and wait for ten minutes while traffic flows by in each direction. You then take your life in your hands and turn (and it is nearly always a right turn out of all these roads); then, fifty yards further on, you turn left again. As the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, says, there are seven "Halt" signs on the ring road, and there are certainly another two places where there ought to be "Halt" signs but where there are not.

I imagine that the ring road which the Edinburgh Corporation has suggested—the outer ring road, as it is called—since they propose incorporating existing ring roads, will consist of a series of roads with a 30 m.p.h. limit. You will be driving along one of these stretches, and will come upon a piece of the new road, which will be de-restricted: then back to a 30 m.p.h. stretch, followed by a slightly better road, with perhaps a 40 m.p.h. limit. You will then come to an enormous traffic jam trying to cross the A.7; and, having negotiated that, you will have another bit of 30 m.p.h. road—eight miles around the south side of Edinburgh. In my opinion, this is simply not good enough, and I cannot see the point of building a bridge costing £10 million if you are not going to build proper approach roads which will cost only another £1¼ million over the sum which, as at present proposed, is to be spent on the outer ring road.

I should also like to say a little about the approach roads on the North side. Having got away from the Forth Bridge, so far as I can make out we shall still have to negotiate Cowdenbeath before we are on a decent road. The 30 m.p.h. limit stretch through Cowdenbeath is about five miles long. It is not particularly congested, but I feel that, while we are building this big new bridge, which will carry, I should think, more traffic than any other road in Scotland, we might at least try to improve the approaches on both sides. I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Ferrier, that the whole of the traffic pattern in Scotland will be altered when this new bridge is built. All the heavy traffic from Dundee, Perth, Aberdeen and Fife will go over the new bridge, instead of down the equally terrible road from Stirling to Lanark, which is the way it has to go at the moment.

Moreover, if Edinburgh has a decent Southern by-pass, it will attract a lot of new industry to Fife; and this again will increase traffic on the Forth Bridge. I therefore feel that it should not be a case of a by-pass being wasted around the South of Edinburgh. If there is not one, I think the whole of the traffic in Edinburgh will come to a complete standstill, and that the accident rate in Edinburgh will go up quite appallingly. It is not an easy city to drive in at the best of times, for many of the roads are very steep and there are a lot of "Halt" and "Slow" signs where the road goes uphill. In the winter, particularly a Scottish winter, I can assure your Lordships that these hills are by no means easy to negotiate, and I imagine that they are even more difficult to negotiate in a heavy lorry—not that I have ever driven one. I therefore hope that the Government will look favourably upon releasing £2 million for the Southern by-pass round Edinburgh, and that they will see that that by-pass is completed at the same time as the Forth Bridge is completed.

5.17 p.m.


My Lords, I rise merely to support my noble friend. The subject has been covered so thoroughly that there is very little more to say, but no one has pointed out that, while there are 7 million vehicles a day on the roads at the moment, before we finish the Forth Bridge we are told that that figure will be 12 million, without taking into account the other increases about which everyone else has been talking. It seems to me that that is going to be fairly serious. The fact that it must be considered serious is, I think. borne out by the fact that we have managed to "chisel" out of Her Majesty's Government £17 million to build a bridge, anyway. Unless there was going to be some traffic for that, I am quite certain we should never have got away with it. That being the case, I beg the Government not to get "cold feet" now, but to carry on with the good work. That is a slight palliative.

It is equally true that, as regards the cost of building roads, the longer you leave it the greater it gets. Therefore, there is a great deal to be said for taking the bull by the horns now and for really speeding up this programme, and possibly some of the others. I know certain quite large programmes which are contemplated in smaller counties—my own, for example—which can well be put off for another twenty years. I say, let us have a look at these important things, and not spend so much money in each county in order to keep the people of those counties quiet—which is what is happening sometimes. Surely a by-pass connecting a large number of trunk roads should be considered more or less as a trunk road itself and, if it is a trunk road itself, a trunk road ranks for a very high grant indeed. I was therefore a little perplexed to find the cost falling on Edinburgh. I was not quite sure how that tied up with by-passes, with trunk roads, and so on. I was not quite clear how that worked out, and perhaps the noble Lord will make that clear when he replies.

5.19 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful indeed to my noble friend Lord Ferrier, and other noble Lords, for so properly raising an item of interest and, as my noble friend says, of anxiety, now that the Forth Bridge is a reality. Before I deal with the main question of the by-pass, may I clear away two points which have been raised and which are not strictly relevant, but are important? My noble friend the Duke of Atholl talked about the north side of the Forth Bridge, and Cowdenbeath. I am advised that Fife County are investigating the line of the Kelty—Cowdenbeath By-pass, and that an order will be made fairly soon; so my noble friend is pushing against an open door. My noble friend Lord Ferrier—and I am sorry I do not speak for the Treasury—said it was bad business to charge the cost of the Forth Road Bridge above the line. He asked, why did we not charge it below the line and so release £10 million for the City by-pass and other desirable improvements close to my heart.


My Lords, I meant that it was bad business to have a toll bridge and to charge it to revenue.


That is right, my Lords. I can advise the noble Lord that it would not affect either the size or the direction of the road programme in Scotland, or indeed any other spheres of Government activity, if the Forth Bridge were financed by borrowing below the line. As my noble friend knows, money is money, whether it is voted or borrowed. The Exchequer, acting in the interests of the economy as a whole, can find the one no more easily than the other. In fact, if we keep below the line, then we can borrow only by increasing the surplus above the line, and that means increasing taxation. So far as a consortium is concerned, that is a different question, of which I should like notice. Clearly, if money is found from other sources than the taxpayer, there are many other considerations to bear in mind.

As regards the main item we are discussing this afternoon, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, that the internal traffic congestion in Edinburgh is increasing, and I think he will agree with me that it will be worse on the completion of the Forth Road Bridge. The question is whether the construction of the City by-pass is essential to relieve this congestion; because many of the people using the Forth Bridge will come to Edinburgh to look at that beautiful city. The main problem to-day is lack of information on traffic movements in the area. As my noble friend said in opening the debate, the origin and destination survey has just been completed. It is a big job to collate the returns and we cannot hope for results until the autumn, so that any judgments given by noble Lords or by myself at this Box just now, may be proved wrong. But I know what noble Lords are thinking and I agree with them. Even after the autumn, we shall only be able to make a better guess at what will happen when the Forth Bridge is opened.

Let me clear the decks—and our minds—by stating some of the known factors which must: have an effect on the extent of Forth Bridge Road traffic that should be passed by Edinburgh. I confirm what my noble friend Lord Ferrier said, that the bridge will be completed by the end of 1963. We are all glad to know that the work is well on schedule. When it is completed, traffic will still have to pay to cross. The extent of the tolls will be determined by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State having regard to the loan charges on the bridge, and there will be an opportunity for a public inquiry.

What will offset the charge? First, the saving in time as compared with the ferry, and, secondly, the saving in time and petrol as compared with the Kincardine Bridge. The bridge will increase the traffic between Edinburgh and Fife, but how much traffic will come from and go beyond Edinburgh? The present survey will guide us, though it cannot give us the whole answer to what will happen after the bridge is open. But in extolling the attractions of the bridge for through traffic—trunk road traffic—noble Lords may not have taken fully into account the scale of trunk road improvements now in the pipeline. These improvements may have a profound effect. Drivers travelling from the Border to places north of the Forth will, in five or six years' time only, be able to travel from the Border at Gretna to a point near Kincardine Bridge all the way on dual carriageways of modern design. With the improvements made in England and those to be made on the London-Birmingham and Birmingham-Lancaster motorways, we shall by that time be reaching the position of there being a modern, fast west-coast route from London to Kincardine, serving Lancashire, the Midlands and South Wales.


My Lords, does the noble Lord mean that the approach road North of Kincardine will be improved too, because it was the approach road coming from the North about which I was complaining so bitterly? If that is not going to be improved, the bridge is no good at all.


My Lords, the position North of the bridge is reasonably satisfactory. But, of course, we must remember that the North is just as important as the South. If traffic approaches from the South. it must go beyond the bridge. The Department has that point very much in mind, especially for Glasgow—Perth traffic, and for the Stirling road as well. Whatever we do or do not do round Edinburgh, this alternative fast, free route by Kincardine must, for long-distance through traffic be a keen competitor with the Forth Road Bridge. We must weigh our consideration also with these factors before committing ourselves to spending the great sums of ratepayers' and taxpayers' money that would be involved.

Now to the position in Edinburgh itself. There are three ways round the South side of the City which come into the discussions. One exists now—the ring route. Two are referred to in the City Development Plan, the outer circular and the City by-pass, about which my noble friends are particularly concerned. The whole City by-pass road from the Maybury to Musselburgh would be about sixteen miles long. The section in the development plan is eleven miles, of which ten miles are within the city boundary. The cost of construction of this 10-mile stretch would attract grant. I am sorry that I cannot be too forthcoming at this stage, for reasons which noble Lords will understand, about the extent to which it will attract grant. That will be a proper argument when the time conies. Noble Lords have suggested that the United Kingdom taxpayer should meet the whole cost. This raises very difficult questions. Normally, there are no trunk roads wholly paid for by the taxpayer within the boundaries of Scottish cities and large burghs—certainly none the length of this one. Furthermore, before any trunk road is provided, the Government must be satisfied that the need for it justifies its priority over other Scottish roads.


My Lords, I did, I think, make the contention that Edinburgh should bear a portion.


Yes, my Lords. I think that I replied to the noble Lord that if Edinburgh did bear a proportion, then the proper argument would be: what proportion would the City bear? And on that I was not able to advise your Lordships at this juncture. If the City by-pass is to be built now, or soon, some other road must fall—that is, either with or without a proportion of Government expenditure. There are between £2 million and £3 million involved, because the whole by-pass is longer than that part which goes through Edinburgh under the Edinburgh Development Plan. Noble Lords who know the area have to say which proposed improvement is to fall—the Glasgow-Carlisle, the Glasgow-Kincardine, the Edinburgh-Glasgow, the Edinburgh-Stirling., the Forth Bridge-Perth roads, or those little sundry items which, my noble friend Lord Stonehaven said, we give to the counties to keep them quiet. I reject that completely, and I advise you not to say it to the counties. They could take four or five times the amount' f money we give them now; their complaint is that we do not give them enough.

But all the main roads that I have mentioned, and many other roads, are now carrying much more traffic than, with our present information, even allowing for quite an amount of exaggeration, we believe would use a city by-pass. At present the City by-pass, as the noble Lord said, is included in the 20-year development plan. The question of its construction is not "whether" so much as "when". And whether its construction is to be brought forward is a matter, in the first place, for the Edinburgh Corporation to consider. I can say no more on that matter.

But what of the other two routes? The ring route—my noble friend referred to it as the "so-called" ring route, and I agree with him—is signposted by the A.A. I do not think my noble friend regards it as satisfactory, though I must confess that as I learn my way about it I find myself using it more and more. As things stand, it will be all that is available when the bridge is completed in 1963. I agree with my noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell about the need for a good road to the airport. I sometimes wonder whether I dare go that way, as if I lost my way I should lose the plane.

But what about the third route, the outer circular route which could run clear from Corstonphine Road round the outer part of the city to join A.1 on the East? This could be the road that my noble friend Lord Stuart of Findhorn had in mind; and it could be the first-class by-pass that is so necessary, as was mentioned by my noble friend the Duke of Atholl. Most of this road exists already. One new section is under construction, but to complete it an important new length must be built south of Calder Road, near Colinton. If the census results and all other considerations show that the volume of by-passable traffic may be substantial, then the Edinburgh Corporation will no doubt consider urgently whether the "missing link" should not be constructed before 1963. In doing this, they will have to consider whether the road should go through Colinton, as now in the plan, or whether it should avoid that village. My right honourable friend, for his part, will do what he can to find his share of the cost. In our view, whatever the future of the City by-pass, this circular route will still be needed, if only because it is also a distributive road with more junctions leading to the city than there would, or should, be on the City by-pass which, when built, should be a modern by-pass with as few junctions as possible. So one has to ask oneself whether the outer circular route may not be a safe and satisfactory interim solution.

I have dealt with this interesting and difficult problem in some detail, because I want to convince your Lordships that we are not being casual, pig-headed or short-sighted; and we shall not forget to consider the defence angle or the casualty danger. But we should be doing less than our duty to decide finally, on the facts we have, on the timing and execution of such an important and expensive project as the City by-pass. My right honourable friend and the Edinburgh Corporation must have more facts to go on. We can only await with interest and I must confess some impatience the result of the origin and destination survey.


My Lords, I have no right of reply, but may I thank my noble friend for his reply, and I only wish that it had been as helpful as his reply to my Starred Question earlier.