HL Deb 25 October 1960 vol 225 cc999-1000

3.0 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied with the present progress of construction on new trunk roads, and whether they are considering introducing a system of tolls on these roads when completed.]


My Lords, the Government reviewed the size of the road programme earlier this year and as a result my right honourable friend was able to announce in another place on 28th July a substantial increase in Government expenditure on roads. One result of this increase is that the five major projects, which are trunk roads and motorways, are expected to be substantially completed in the next five or six years and at least a start made on the Yorkshire Motorway. The Government consider that, in the light of the total demand on resources, this rate of progress is satisfactory.

As I informed your Lordships' House on May 25, the difficult question of tolls has been under examination. It has been decided that those motorways which have already been completed, or are under construction, or are in a very advanced state of preparation should not be subject to tolls. No decision has been reached about tolls on later motorway projects, and the question is being further studied.


My Lords, would the noble Lord say whether the Government's apparent reluctance to use the toll system is a matter of principle, and whether they have studied the effect of tolls in many other countries of the world—and not only in other countries, but in this country, the Mersey Tunnel, where this system, I am told, is particularly successful?


My Lords, I think it is quite natural that there should be reluctance to plunge into the use of the toll system. With regard to the policy, I think perhaps I might quote the words of my right honourable friend's predecessor, in 1957, when he described the policy as being to impose tolls on certain very costly new bridge and tunnel projects where the present inconvenience to road users will be heavily outweighed by the value of the new facilities. That remains our policy where these improvements of great value are out of all proportion costly. But, as I said, so far as other roads are concerned, no decision has yet been taken.

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