HL Deb 16 February 1961 vol 228 cc908-42

4.21 p.m.

LORD FERRIERrose to move to resolve, That in the opinion of this House it is necessary to expedite measures to facilitate the movement of long-distance traffic round the City of Edinburgh. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I would first apologise to your Lordships for speaking a second time in one week, and would excuse myself by saying that the proximity of the two debates to which I shall have contributed was not of my choosing. I would only assure your Lordships that it is not my intention to speak so long to-day as I did on Monday. I am grateful to your Lordships, although the substantial list of speakers appears to justify my boldness, for this opportunity of moving this Resolution. The object, of course, is to focus attention upon the road traffic problem as it affects the City of Edinburgh, and the dangers inherent in the next few years. The matter was debated in your Lordships' House on an Unstarred Question on July 21 last, in connection with the problem of the approach roads to the Forth Road Bridge. Indeed, what I have to say to-day stems directly from the matter of that debate.

The excuse for troubling your Lordships again so soon arises from two factors. The first factor is the publication of the Edinburgh Region Traffic Survey in October, and the second factor arises from the announcement of the Tay Road Bridge decision in January. As I have said, the whole thing was so carefully debated in July last that I will not waste your Lordships' time by going over the ground again, as it were, regarding bypasses in general. However, I am tempted to quote from the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, in 1958, during the debate on the Acquisition of Land for Roads, during which he quoted from a paper which had been prepared by the Road Research Laboratory, under Dr. Glanville and Dr. Smeed. I should like to read an extract to your Lordships. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, VOl. 207, col. 725]: They calculated that the current annual cost of delay is £155 million per annum. That is, delay in road traffic. He went on to say: They balance the cost of delay against the increase in the number of vehicles, and what it means, in effect, is that the cost of delay increase; at a rate of 14 per cent. per annum. The noble Lord continued—and he was still quoting the paper: In addition to this cost there is the economic cost of road accidents, which they put at £110 million per annum. They did not try to assess in pounds, shillings and pence the cost of the appalling tragedies caused by road accidents.

My Lords, the necessity for an Edinburgh by-pass, on economic grounds alone, is, or will be, so manifest that a by-pass is bound to come. I propose to suggest that it is necessary to start the preparations to-day if relief is to be available at the time the Forth Road Bridge is opened in 1963. The question is not: Should there be a by-pass?; it is: When should work on a by-pass begin? Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply can estimate the time that such a by-pass road would take to build, because that figure will, in a measure, dictate the time we should start. For, of course, there is much paper work to be done before a sod can be cut. In moving this Resolution, I take the view that the time to begin is now, and I hope that the Minister of State feels the same. I believe that if the justification in terms of traffic is not there to-day, it will be there by 1963, or certainly by the time the by-pass will be completed —which ideally, of course, should coincide with the completion of the Forth Road Bridge.

Traffic-wise, it is going to be very difficult to estimate the number of vehicles which will use the bridge, and also What proportion of that total will require the by-pass around Edinburgh. I submit that the overall transport pattern of the whole of the East of Scotland—a pattern which is now to be varied again by the construction of the Tay Road Bridge—is involved, and not only the pattern of the environs of Edinburgh itself. It is not only that the two great bridges will affect the existing and normally expanding traffic as bridges, but that their very presence will effect a speed-up in the development of the whole of the Kingdom of Fife, thereby superimposing upon the normal growth an abnormal growth of traffic.

Now, what of developments to the southward? The Pentland Hills and the southern uplands create a bifurcation of the main traffic stream which extends far south of the limits of the Border. To the South-East, one must remember that the A.1 is being steadily improved from London northwards. Of course, the M.1 has to some extent relieved the burden on the A.1 at its southern end. To the South-West—and here the City of Edinburgh is not so directly affected, except in extreme weather conditions—the motorway from London to Preston is taking shape. The highway from Preston to Carlisle and through to Glasgow and to the Kincardine Bridge is being improved, if slowly. My reference to slowness refers to the section nearest my home, between Carlisle and Abington, but it must be remembered that that section includes Beattock and Shap or Bowes Moor. Now these obstacles not only involve long climbs (which, in terms of industrial transport, mean excessive fuel consumption) but, in conditions of extreme weather such as take place in winter, they are subject to severe delays—and occasionally, as we all know, to lengthy complete interruption.

Here, talking of the traffic pattern, I wish to digress a little, to turn to another of our uncertain factors. It is this: What is the toll rate on the Forth Road Bridge to be? Under the Order, this is not to be fixed until 1962. Inevitably the level of charges must bear upon the number of vehicles using the bridge. Are these charges not to be fixed, or at least maxima decided (I say maxima because the charges will vary), any sooner? Could not the maxima be fixed sooner than 1962? The industrial transport organisations, whom I have consulted, and also the motoring organisations, point out that the amount of the toll will affect the use of the bridge for every class of vehicle. Now all these factors—the pattern of the East of Scotland, the roads to the South and the toll on the bridge —have a bearing on the Edinburgh traffic problem.

Those are the uncertainties. They are such that I am inclined to criticise the work of the Edinburgh Regional Traffic Survey which, as I told your Lordships, was published in October. I believe that the forecast of "by-pass-able" traffic (to quote the Survey) is too low, due to the fact that the scope of the survey was limited to the environs of Edinburgh and to the existing traffic passing through the city under present-day conditions. At present, of course, traffic has only a ferry across the Forth. The Survey has left out the major problems, and therefore the results are suspect. There are other reasons why the Survey figures, I believe, may be criticised.


My Lords, perhaps I might interrupt the noble Lord. Could he help the House and tell us what is the figure in the Survey?


Yes, my Lords. The figure, which is taken from the summary, is 7.2 per cent. In passing, I would mention to your Lordships that this matter has been raised a good many times in another place by the honourable Member for Edinburgh, West.

My Lords, suspicious though I am of Edinburgh's figures, I have reason to know that the noble Lord the Minister of State and his right honourable friend have devoted much careful thought and study to the overall picture. Indeed, he has favoured me with views upon, and a sight of, his Department's proposals. Those proposals are derived from the Edinburgh Development Plan. If there is any suggestion to be made, I wonder, with the utmost respect, whether more use could be made of the experience of the motoring organisations—British Road Services, the Traders' Road Transport Association, and such-like. Perhaps they have been consulted by the Minister, but I can inform your Lordships' House that they have not been consulted by the City.

The Traders' Road Transport Association are at the moment carrying out a survey. They have circularised (or so the Secretary tells me) 400 members, members operating heavy vehicles. I have 140 of the replies here, and I will gladly place them at the disposal of the noble Lord, the Minister of State, if he so desires; and the rest of them, as they come in, can go the same way. But I can tell your Lordships, from the mere glance I have had of them, that they make impressive reading as support for the necessity, not only of a by-pass but of a by-pass now.

Well, my Lords, this is all very well, but whence is the money to come to pay for this expensive road undertaking, of which the full measure may be more than any figure I have heard mentioned? I think the total figure amounted to some £3 million. If, as I believe, a fairly major road bridge project over the Esk may have to be faced, as has the major bridge over the Water of Leith, I believe that it will turn out to be a fairly costly undertaking. I go all the way with the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, in his determination that the first task for Scotland —almost an emergency task—is the improvement of the A.8, the Edinburgh to Glasgow highway, with its dreadful accident toll. But I wonder whether the finance for the Edinburgh by-pass cannot be found at the same time.

Here again, let me turn to the Forth Road Bridge. It is the cost of this bridge and the cost of the Clyde Tunnel which bas strained my noble friend's resources. The overall four-year plan for road improvement and development has to be cut by the extent to which the cost of these major undertakings will bear on the years in question. Is it too late to try to finance the cost of a toll bridge, or indeed any toll operation, from other borrowings? Could, indeed, the whole principle of this charging of a toll on an operation, which is financed, as it were, out of revenue moneys, be gone into again? Has every possible available source been scoured for funds? Have the City of Edinburgh authority taken advantage of all the financial help which they could obtain if they fried? Are they pressing for financial assistance from general funds? I must say that if, for Hyde Park Corner, the London County Council can get £3½ million out of £5 million, cannot Edinburgh get something towards a by-pass road?

It is unfortunate that, geographically, any by-pass around Edinburgh must pass through the city boundaries. Those boundaries stretch from the steep slopes of the Pentland Hills right to the sea: there is no way of getting round them.

Does this eliminate altogether the chance of the whole, or a very great part, of the cost of a major by-pass road being borne by general finances? Incidentally, my Lords, it is always worth bearing in mind that Edinburgh's problem is, in a measure, unique, in that the Pentland Hills stretch from the City boundaries for twenty-two miles to the South-West before they are traversed by any road at all. In other words, traffic passing across that part of Scotland has inevitably either to go by the West or to pass through the Edinburgh City boundaries.

Stall on the subject of finance (though I regret to say somewhat hypothetically so), I ask myself, what is it worth to protect the City of Edinburgh from spoliation by traffic? Some of us can be forgiven if we distrust the will of the City authorities to preserve the amenities —indeed, the æsthetic value—of, especially, the New Town. The noble Earl, Lord Haddington, whose name I am delighted to see is down on the list of speakers, will doubtless deal with the problem of the amenity societies' approach to the matter. But I would mention that these very societies who strive to preserve our priceless asset, which is what our city is (it is not only an æsthetic asset, but also a financial one) have been submitted to scornful abuse from the City Council. And, what is more, I have also heard in high places the suggestion that what we should do is to wait until the traffic builds up a bit. This, my Lords, hardly fits in with a city which is now introducing parking meters in the New Town. It would seem to me that, if parking meters are necessary, then traffic has already built up a bit.

But to whom can we turn to place a value on the city? There, I confess to defeat, but if your Lordships' House passes this Resolution, it can at least be taken as an expression of the House's strong feeling that everything should be done to help the City to preserve its character. But the City should also help itself; and from both the aesthetic and the financial points of view, it is not only the City's private affair. I take the view that it is the affair of the whole country. If only for this reason, I commend this Resolution to your Lordships' favour.

My Lords, I look forward, almost with bated breath, to hearing the reply of the Minister of State. Can we hope that he will be able to give us good cheer? Is there some lack of unity of purpose as between the City and St. Andrew's House? I am not suggesting that they are at sixes and sevens, but can this House do anything to help forward the solution of Edinburgh's road problem?


My Lords, may I be permitted to ask the noble Lord one question? Is the implication of his speech at the moment that the Town Council of the City of Edinburgh (I am simply asking this as a question) is quite indifferent to the amenities of the City of Edinburgh?


No, my Lords, not indifferent.




They are conscious of the trouble; otherwise they would not he putting in parking meters. But, for what it is worth, my own view is that the range of vision is so limited that we must wait to hear what the noble Lord has to say in reply. I imagine that it is difficult for him to impose upon the City. After all, there is no overall planning authority which can impose upon the City fathers any development which could stem from a country-wide plan for traffic. Even though St. Andrew's House and the City are not at sixes and sevens, can we do anything to help the noble Lord the Minister of State towards a solution of this problem? Can we help to settle doubts which perhaps exist that everything possible is being done? I would say that the proceedings in another place show that on every side of that House there are doubts about whether everything is being done that can be done.

In his speech in July, the Minister of State emphasised that he needed accurate information. That, indeed, is a difficulty; and speaking for myself, I find that the more one applies oneself to the problem, the more its complexities and technical difficulties become apparent. The more I learn, the less I seem to know. I am sure that the Minister of State, who is to reply, will add to the store of our total knowledge. But I am in no doubt that any decision will be a difficult one for him to make, and I do not envy him his task or that of his right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That in the opinion of this House it is necessary to expedite measures to facilitate the movement of long distance traffic round the City of Edinburgh.—(Lord Ferrier.)

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, a few days ago a new Member of your Lordships' House said to me that she was surprised that Whips were allowed to speak in this House. As we know, in another place the Whips are meant to keep silent. I must admit that on this occasion I rather wish that the rule prevailed here, because as I have been delegated to speak on behalf of the Opposition I am the third Englishman to speak on Scottish matters this afternoon. I have a great deal of affection for Edinburgh. I spent considerable time, both during the war and afterwards, in that fair city. In fact, I think that I saw Edinburgh at its best in 1941, when there was an absence of vehicles and one could walk with comfort through the streets of that wonderful city. To-day, Edinburgh, like every other city, finds itself in the same plight—congestion of cars, congestion of pedestrians and congestion of that worst of all cars, the permanently parked car.

I fully support the Motion which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, but I would be critical of it in the sense that I think it does not get to the heart of the problem which, as I see it, lies in the congestion right in the centre of the city. From what I know of Edinburgh, little has been done to deal with the problem of the nearly permanently parked car. We heard from the noble Lord that parking meters are now coming into operation in the New Town, but parking meters in themselves do not stop congestion. We know this from our experience in London. If we were honest, we should say that parking meters provide some revenue and give some facilities for short-term parking, but they do not stop congestion. When I was in Edinburgh recently, I did not see any serious development of provision for off-street parking. I would say this straight to the Minister of State: something must be done about the congestion in Edinburgh, not only for the sake of Edinburgh but also because Edinburgh is a big tourist attraction for thousands of people coming from overseas as well as for people from England. I think that they would report with greater joy of their visit to Edinburgh if something could be done about the serious traffic congestion.

There is one point about the traffic problem in Edinburgh that I am not sure I should make in this debate, but I should like to make an appeal to the Minister of State on the point. I do not know whether other noble Lords have experienced the difficulty I have had of understanding hand signals given by traffic police in Edinburgh. I notice that some noble Lords opposite have had my difficulty. Not so very long ago I received a signal from a policeman in Princes Street and thought I had been told to stop, but I received a stream of abuse because the policeman meant that I was to come forward. I think that for reasons of safety, among others, we should do something to have uniform hand signals by constabulary on point duty. I hope that the noble Lord will look into this matter. Apart from this the police behave extremely well in Edinburgh. Although I have passed strictures on the Edinburgh Corporation in regard to traffic congestion and the provision of off-street parking, I must say that they have done something in clearing away the trams, particularly in Princes Street. But now in most places along that wide street there is double parking. Having gained by removing the trams, they are filling the road with parked cars. I think the Corporation should do something about this.

Turning to the Motion, I would say that it seems very strange that the Government have gone ahead with a greatly needed but expensive bridge, to cost £17 million, without having a co-ordinated road programme to coincide with the bridge and to exploit the money that is being invested in it. There is no great development to the North of the Forth Bridge, where there are fewer roads than in the South. To me this is fantastic, but it is the type of road programme that we have in the rest of the country. In many parts we find that a local authority have widened a stretch of road, which may go for two or three miles but then stops. This sort of thing is spread all over the country. Can the Government, or can anybody, show me that this policy makes any difference to the speeding up of traffic and to safety on the roads? Except where made to take away nasty corners, this sort of road development seems a complete waste of money. Apart from the centres of cities and towns, road policy should be controlled centrally and money should be available every year on a long-term programme, so that a policy can be laid down, equipment and knowledge can be obtained and the monies available can be used to give some cohesion in road building.

It appears that only recently have we become aware of the effect that the Forth Bridge will have on Edinburgh. The traffic in Edinburgh and in the Edinburgh district has increased tremendously in the past two or three years. Apart from the tourist traffic, there is the heavy traffic which is coming up from North-East England to Glasgow; and there will be traffic from the West, probably into Leith docks, as soon as our trade with Europe develops. This is going to make congestion even worse, because the ring route (I am glad that it is not being called a ring road) is quite unsuitable: in fact, it is incapable of being used by the very heavy vehicles that are bringing the shipping equipment from North-East England to Glasgow. I have been in Princes Street when a big ship's propellor has been dragged through at the height of Saturday morning shopping, with crowds of people and cars about. I have never seen such nonsense as that in a civilised society. But Princes Street was the only way by which it could come; the ring route twists and turns arid the vehicle could not get round.

If it is suggested that we should develop the ring route, I would point out that this goes through the industrial part of South Edinburgh, and I think it would be wasteful to spend money on trying to develop it. The Minister, in my view, should say to the Corporation: "Cease! Look further South." There is, further South, land which has been surveyed and has already been sterilised (I think that is the expression) available for the building of an outer circular road. I understand that this road is already partially developed. If we were to provide a little more money we could get that road extended: not before 1963, no doubt, judging by the way we build roads in this country, but before the maximum weight of vehicles starts coming into Edinburgh or the Edinburgh vicinity. I think that that is what the Government should do.

The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, said it is a question of finance; and, of course, it always is. I have raised two problems. We have the external traffic problem in Edinburgh, which is very severe, aggravated by the tourist industry, from which the State makes a substantial income; and, on the other side, we have this heavy industrial traffic which will result from the Forth Bridge and also the development of the heavy engineering trade in the North. suggest that a deal should be made between the Government and the Corporation of Edinburgh: that the Government should build this road as a matter of urgency, and that the Corporation should immediately find funds to build substantial and adequate off-street parking in the city. The country would benefit from that in many ways. The traffic would flow, and Edinburgh would be a city much pleasanter than it is to-day. Even now it is a very pleasant city, but it is being steadily choked by traffic. I think this is a matter of urgency. Admittedly, there may be priorities concerned, but I think we must have some short-term substantial work done to ease the whole position in Edinburgh. I suggest that if such a deal is made between the Government and the Corporation, each will find something to contribute. I therefore fully support the Resolution of the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier.

4.53 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down said that he was the third Englishman speaking from the Opposition side about Scottish matters this afternoon. I am pleased to say that the fourth speaker from the Opposition side has some claim to be called a Scotsman speaking about Scottish affairs, and it is with this in mind that I rise to say a few words in support of Lord Ferrier's Resolution. Although I do not live in Edinburgh, I make regular, if not very frequent, visits to that city. However, for quite a long time, until ten years ago, Edinburgh was the main shopping town for the place where my family and I lived; so that I got to know a good deal about the problems of Edinburgh traffic in those days, and what I am going to say is partly based on that and partly on what I see occurring at present.

The real point, as has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, is that there is this bottleneck in Edinburgh. If you are coming in from the north, particularly, and you are not very certain of your way, you try to avoid Princes Street and Shandwick Place. Possibly, with difficulty, you get into Charlotte Square; and then you go down George Street. But when you get to the end of George Street it is almost impossible to escape again, because the roads are so difficult to find. So that is not a real solution to the problem: and, anyhow, nobody wants to see the streets and the squares of the New Town of Edinburgh turned into great roads for heavy traffic. The difficulty with the congestion there is that it makes things dangerous for pedestrians. Undoubtedly, congestion in a big city is the cause of a large number of accidents. It is already difficult, as I am sure many noble Lords appreciate, for pedestrians to cross some of the main roads in Edinburgh, particularly during times of heavy traffic. So there is another good reason for the speedy making of a by-pass to prevent a large number of avoidable accidents.

Objection has been raised in some quarters that, supposing the by-pass is made, a certain number of people will not come into Edinburgh who go there at the present time, and therefore the shops and traders in the city will lose trade. I do not think there is a great deal in that argument, because, if you are travelling from the South to the North, or from the North to the South, and you do not necessarily want to stop in Edinburgh you would use the by-pass and certainly if you wished to stop to buy anything, you could not stop, because you could not find anywhere to park your car. That was certainly the case ten years ago and I know that the situation is no better to-day.

Therefore, I think the traffic which would use the by-pass would be the people who did not want to go into Edinburgh or those who would not be able to stop there; so that the traders would lose no real income from them. It might be that a few would stop somewhere in despair, when they are tired and weary of the traffic jams and the discomforts, to get some kind of refreshment to help them on their way again; but these will be few, and I cannot see that any real damage will be done to the city if the by-pass is built. The big industrial traffic would go round it, and the people who wished to travel to the North of Scotland would avoid going through Edinburgh merely as a place to go through. Therefore, as I say, I do not anticipate any loss to the traders of Edinburgh by the construction of the by-pass.

Mention has been made of the Forth Road Bridge, which will be opened in 1963. That is a big enough problem to start with, but it will be far worse when the Tay Road Bridge opens—although I do not know when that will be. Mention has also been made of the value of the Kincardine Bridge. That bridge has no value at all, because the roads of approach from the North are quite impossible. Anyone who has been stuck behind a large lorry going on the road North from Kincardine Bridge for about ten or fifteen miles knows that it means crawling along, and that it is impossible to pass. That road seems to me to be of no value. Although the bridge itself is a fine bridge, it will not do a great deal of good to relieve the traffic there.

I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, in another matter. It is said that when the Tay Bridge is opened a certain amount of traffic from the North will use the road by Beattock and Shap. But I wonder how much of that road will be used? It is an extremely difficult road for big, industrial traffic, and I should have thought it would be rather foolish to gamble on the fact of its being used, especially in winter. If there was a by-pass round Edinburgh, they would rather go round that way to the South.

The Road Research Laboratory have made a great many inquiries into the causes of road accidents, and they have shown that it is proved statistically that improvements in roads—the straightening out of roads, re-alignment of corners, the provision of dual carriageways and suchlike things—lead to a reduction of accidents. It has been said that that process might be applied to what might be called the Edinburgh ring route. There I would agree with the noble Lord who spoke to-day, and in July last, about the impossibility of the Edinburgh ring route ever being made suitable for use by really heavy traffic. It is a most absurd little road, though I do not think anything else could be done because of the shape of the town. It could certainly never be a practical road, and I hope that we shall hear no more of that road as a reason for riot getting on with the by-pass extremely quickly. Time is very important.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? With regard to the ring route there is an amusing situation of the problem of dual authority. The Automobile Association have marked this as a ring route, and insist that it is not called a ring road because they do not like it a bit. But the City people say, "That is the A.A. route, and not ours."


Surely the building of a now road would do far more to reduce traffic accidents. Properly planned, surveyed and carried out from the start, it would be a better way of reducing accidents than by tinkering with a road which already exists.

There is one more aspect of the question. Edinburgh is accepted by everybody as being a unique city. It is a place visited by many tourists, and I am always amazed that foreigners who come to the British Isles, without being prompted, say that they think Edinburgh is the most beautiful city we have. I remember meeting a party of Russian scientists who had been to Edinburgh. I said, "What do you think of Edinburgh?", thinking they would say something cold. They said, "We think Edinburgh is the most beautiful city we have ever seen; more beautiful than Moscow"—which I can understand—"and more beautiful than Leningrad." There I would not entirely agree, because Leningrad is a beautiful city. Edinburgh has two great drawbacks: first, the congestion of traffic, and, secondly, the railway line through Princes Street Gardens. Supposing the by-,pass is constructed and the traffic is reduced, would it be too much to hope that the British Transport Commission might do something about the railway in the middle of Princes Street Gardens?

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to intervene in this debate as I am a citizen of Edinburgh and also a pedestrian. From both those points of view, I should like to make some suggestions on this subject. I will not follow the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, out on to the Southern Uplands or across the Forth Bridge or the Tay Bridge of the future, because I am looking at this problem as I see it from the centre of Edinburgh.

My object in supporting this Motion, to-day is to see how traffic and. above all, heavy traffic can be kept out of the centre of Edinburgh. So far as I can see, very shortly Edinburgh will be looked upon as a main trunk road. There will be even less room for the poor pedestrians than now. No doubt it will shortly be referred to as a bottleneck on the main trunk road. It seems to me that one of the difficulties, and one of the reasons why I press for some urgent decision about this matter, is that no real regulation of Edinburgh traffic can be achieved at present because no one has decided what volume of traffic will continue to come into Edinburgh and what traffic may be able to go round. I am not going into ring roads or outer circles (which I think we have) and by-passes. The question is, what traffic can be kept out of Edinburgh?

I know there are certain difficulties, because the Corporation naturally has a responsibility for regulating the traffic in Edinburgh and within its boundaries. I hope it may be possible for Her Majesty's Government to co-operate with the Corporation of Edinburgh to see what joint scheme they can draw up. Until that is done, we cannot regulate the traffic inside Edinburgh. Whenever I object and point to some of the difficulties of the present, situation, I am told, "They are only temporary arrangements."

I believe that we are to have a new survey of traffic in Edinburgh. One sees the difficulties—I might even say chaos —at the West end of Princes Street. I am told that the lighting system and the crossings are of a temporary nature, and are going to be changed. If anybody thinks they ought not to be changed. I would suggest that he should start from the West side of Lothian Road and try to decide how it is possible within a certain time, and without becoming a casualty, to reach the East side of Hope Street. Yesterday I listened to an interesting debate on sport, and I heard, among the sports that were discussed, rambling and running. If you start from Lothian Road and hope to reach Hope Street, you first ramble and then you have to run.

I am told that no further arrangements can be made until matters are decided about this road round Edinburgh. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, pointed out, the situation is getting worse. We are seeing this heavy, enormous traffic coming through Princes Street. Not only that, but it has to get out either through Shandwick Place or down Queensferry Street. How soon can a decision be taken? How soon can we be told that it is decided that a road shall be built round Edinburgh, so as to take from the centre of Edinburgh all the traffic that need not and does not wish to go through the city?

I speak next as a citizen of Edinburgh who, going around now and seeing what is happening, is sometimes very saddened. I said a moment ago that not only may Edinburgh be called a main trunk road, but before we know where we are, and if we are not careful, it will be called a bottleneck. In will come the demolition squads and the bulldozers. I am not exaggerating the danger. What has happened to Charlotte Square? Only last Sunday I went round it very carefully to see why Charlotte Square looks as appalling to-day as it does. All those who knew Charlotte Square know it was probably one of the most beautiful squares in this country. Then the change came. Has it improved the circulation of traffic? It has made no difference at all to the bottleneck at the end of Queensferry Street, Shandwick Place and Princes Street.

But what has it done to spoil this Square? A friend of mine said, "It has not spoiled it. It has had a bit of a face lift. It is a bit different". In the middle the gardens are surrounded by several steps, having been raised up. The road, where I am told the camber had to be changed so that the buses could go round, seems to be slipping in every direction. The beautiful houses look as if they have been in an earthquake because of the juxtaposition of the heights and depths; they seem to be sliding down. That is an example of what has been done because the Edinburgh Corporation was desperate to think of some improvement. I do not know what it cost. I know Charlotte Square was like a devastated area for months and months. I wonder whether some of this money could not have been used on making some definite improvement, not simply trying to knock down the centre of Edinburgh to see how you could squeeze more in, giving the unfortunate pedestrians anxiety and harassment in trying to cross the streets.

I should like to say here that in Edinburgh the drivers of vehicles are more courteous and more prompt in drawing up at zebra crossings than in any other city I know. But, with all possible good will, the present position is impossible, and it will continue and worse will come unless a decision is made quickly. I hope the noble Lord will give us some hope of a quick decision. He said the last time at the end of his speech that the Government were waiting for more facts. I only hope now that they will agree that they have had the facts, and we want action.

5.13 p.m.


My Lords, I want to align myself wholeheartedly with Lord Ferrier's Resolution. I sincerely hope that the Government along with the Corporation of Edinburgh will find the best possible traffic scheme in the shortest possible time for the good of everybody. My noble friend has altered his Resolution to a certain extent to apply only to long-distance traffic which will be moving North or South and not stopping in Edinburgh. The last census figures revealed that only some 7 per cent. of the traffic entering Edinburgh has a final destination outside the city; but the traffic which may use the by-pass when the Forth Bridge is completed is, of course, quite unpredictable; it is bound to be considerably heavier than it is now. To a certain extent, I do not think that the census figures are a very good guide, because very much traffic misses Edinburgh now in order to avoid the difficult and awkward and long crossing of the Forth by the ferry. It probably goes round much further west and goes out by Stirling or over the Kincardine Bridge, just to avoid Edinburgh. But when the Forth Road Bridge is built it will be far the quickest way to go through the heart of Edinburgh. Everybody who knows Edinburgh know; that the quickest link on to the London Road is either by Queen Street or Princes Street.

If it is not straying too far from the Resolution, I want to put in a plea for the New Town of Edinburgh. Of course it is a misnomer; it is not a new town at all. The New Town of Edinburgh was built at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century by three architects of great ability, Craig, Reid and Gillespie Graham, and a little on the East end by Playfair. But while they were built in separate stages all those schemes dovetailed into one another. The streets and gardens make a composite whole of outstanding beauty, and I think we can all say that what is called the New Town of Edinburgh is probably one of the finest Georgian towns in Britain. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Amulree said, what a thousand pities it would be if some great highway were driven straight through the heart of all this lovely Georgian architecture, with all the noise and ugliness and service stations which are necessary concomitants to a main highway!

I agree that, as it is, buses and lorries and parked cars hide much of our good architecture, and I often wonder what is the use now of young men studying to be good architects when what they build can never be seen. I think The High at Oxford is one of the best examples I know. Some of the finest buildings in the world lie along the East side of The High, but you can see nothing of them because of this accumulation of traffic. I think we want far fewer vehicles in the New Town and not more. If I put in a special plea for the amenity of the New Town, it is not because I think the Edinburgh Corporation want to destroy it or do not think anything of it. I believe it is a question of finance and expediency. The easiest and cheapest and quickest way so often wins the day in these matters, and amenity just has to be shelved.

I heartily agree with the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, about the railway. Edinburgh was dealt an almost mortal blow when the Victorians, in their misguided enthusiasm, brought the railway right through the centre of the most beautiful part of the city, blackening all the buildings around. Somebody asked me the other day why there was not a statue of Queen Victoria in Edinburgh. There is a statue of Queen Victoria in the most prominent place it could be, sitting up on top of the Academy, but it is pitch black. She might be some lady from the centre of darkest. Africa; nobody would know it was Queen Victoria. That is all due to the railway. Will there ever be someone strong enough or wise enough with enough money to close that railway? It is like having a railway running from Paddington to Victoria straight through Hyde Park or past Buckingham Palace; it is the same thing. What a wonderful parking place the railway would make! It would be possible to extend Princes Street and the Public Gardens right over the railway, and make a hidden parking place underground for 2,000 cars. That is one solution for the traffic problem in Edinburgh. I must not detain your Lordships any longer. hope that this scheme will come to fruition very soon, and I feel sure that the Government and the Corporation of Edinburgh are alive to their responsibilities in regard to the amenity of our beautiful Georgian architecture in Edinburgh.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is not here, because I should like to commiserate with him on having an unhappy experience with the police in Edinburgh. Mine has been a long experience. I have always found that the police in Edinburgh are extremely good-natured in regard to every minor traffic offence, and as a result the driver has continued on his way with a friendly feeling to the police and has been mighty careful in future. I think that is one of the principal reasons for what the noble Lady referred to as the extremely good relations between pedestrians and motorists in Edinburgh.

If I may now address myself in a few words to the Motion, I would simply say that surely any sane and logical planner of roads in any country would never take these main roads through any big town. Obviously, the proper thing to do is to make all the main roads go past the towns. If one wants to go into a town, then one should leave the main road and go into the town by special accesses. If they are shortsighted, the people in the town may think that they will lose certain shopping advantages; but they will make it up in a thousand-and-one other ways. One great expense that they will save themselves is on the repair of their streets through wear by traffic that ought never to have come into the town at all. I do not want to repeat what anybody else has said, but Edinburgh in particular is a town which will suffer more than any other from congestion, and I think it is essential that the main through traffic should be carried round the city. It would be of advantage to the city and to the country in every way.

Finally, I should like to express my regret at the fact that the Forth Bridge is to be a toll bridge. One hundred years ago or thereabouts Parliament came to the conclusion that tolls were uncivilised, and abolished them. As a matter of fact, this decision fell hardly on Scotland. On many roads in Scotland one may recognise little octagonal cottages. They were the old toll houses. The tolls were given to repay the people who built the roads, they being mostly landed proprietors. When Parliament abolished tolls most of those people got nothing at all. I think that, having done that, Parliament should continue the policy and be most reluctant to impose tolls for any reason on any bridge or road.

5.23 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to support the Resolution of my noble friend Lord Ferrier. Having listened to all that has been said this afternoon and also last July, I think that no one can really be in any doubt about the fact that your Lordships' House considers that a modern, up-to-date motorway by-pass around the South of Edinburgh is essential. I also feel that it is the general opinion that this should be ready at the same time as the Forth Bridge is opened. I think this has to be a motorway by-pass, because Edinburgh is a town of great architectural and historic interest and, in the general run of events, if there are two alternative routes of approximately the same length and taking about the same amount of time to traverse, one going through the middle of Edinburgh and one around the edge of it, 95 per cent. of the people will go through the middle of Edinburgh, just to see the Castle, Princes Street and the Palace of Holy-rood. So there has to be some positive inducement to make them go around the outside; and I feel that the only inducement is a first-class road.

I should like to say a few words on the census that we have heard about in regard to only 7.2 per cent. of the traffic which at the moment goes into Edinburgh being through traffic. I feel that this census is absolutely ridiculous. It has dealt with the matter on too small a scale. Once we have the Forth Bridge, the whole of the pattern of traffic South of Perth and North of Darlington is going to be altered. No longer will heavy traffic go over Bowesmoor (I think it is A.66) and through Carlisle and up A.73 to Lanark, then to Stirling and so on. It is a terrible road. Stirling is almost as bad a bottleneck as is Edinburgh. The road has no scenery to compare with the route round the coast or through Jedburgh. I personally am convinced that all traffic heading for the North and East of Scotland will go at least through Piercebridge and then up to Jedburgh, or go through Darlington and Newcastle up the East coast. I feel that this figure of 7.2 per cent. is an entirely misleading and unreal figure.

I would also point out that much of the so-called traffic going into Edinburgh would probably use a by-pass anyway, if it were going from the East of the town to the airport. You would go round the by-pass ring road—the proper by-pass road, not the present one. If you had to catch an aeroplane, obviously you would do that rather than risk a traffic jam in the middle of Edinburgh. I feel that those people would always prefer to use a motorway, going round the South of the town, than risk negotiating Princes Street.

Another thing which I think is worth noting is that many old houses and buildings are suffering nowadays from modern traffic going continuously past them. If something is not done quickly there is a danger that many of the most interesting Edinburgh buildings will suffer badly by way of damage, caused purely by the weight of modern traffic, which gets heavier and heavier. The number of heavy vehicles which we see going North to Dounreay, which at the moment goes through Lanark but which eventually would go through Edinburgh to the Forth Bridge, is considerable. These do nothing but damage as they go along the roads. They cause most terrible blocks; and I think that if there is not a by-pass round Edinburgh the houses will suffer severely.

At the moment it is much quicker to go through the middle of Edinburgh than to go round the so-called ring road. The right-turns on Princes Street form one of the big snags in Edinburgh. I do not see how the layout of the town can be affected. If you are going to Queens-ferry it is about five minutes quicker to go through the middle than round the ring road, and, I imagine, much quicker still if you are going to the Dunbar road. It is therefore essential that the extra distance that one would have to travel round the south of the town should be compensated for by the building of a really first-class road as quickly as possible, if not by 1963 when the Forth Bridge opens, certainly by 1966 when Edinburgh hopes to stage the Empire Games. I therefore hope that the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government will regard this as a matter of urgency and will do everything in his power to see that his Department and Edinburgh Corporation start on this road as soon as possible.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I want to make only a few remarks on the financial side of this question, because that appears to be the real stumbling block and controversy. I must say that I have sympathies with the City Fathers of Edinburgh. Why should they be called upon to hang on the ratepayers of Edinburgh a very large sum of money for the construction of a road to enable people to avoid Edinburgh? That point must be borne very much in mind, and they must come to terms with the Government as to what share of the cost of this road the Government will carry. For although the road runs on municipal ground, it must really be regarded as a national affair, not as a local one.

The next point relates to the figure which has been mentioned as the cost of the road, something of the order of £3 million. There, again, there is a fallacy, for that £3 million has not to be found in any one year. If it takes six years to build that road, then roughly only one-sixth of that sum will be spent each year, which is a very different story. How are Edinburgh Corporation to raise the money to service the loan they have to float in order to pay that? In spite of the remarks of my noble friend deploring tolls, and while equally deplore them. I should deplore much more having no road or no bridge. We have tolls on the bridge, anyway.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to the traffic that will use the bridge. Commercial traffic will use the bridge if it pays them to do so. If the tolls are too high they will not. That is a point which should be considered, because it will have a very marked effect. There is a way in which the unpopularity and nuisance of tolls can be alleviated. If the authority imposing the tolls were to sell toll-tickets, wholesale, to every petrol filling station within five miles of either end of the bridge or the by-pass (supposing the by-pass was run on a toll system) a motorist when filling up with petrol could buy, retail at the petrol station a ticket to take him across the bridge or on the road. In that way, when he got to the toll point he would merely pass the ticket from the car window to an attendant and there would be no hold-up or congestion. Nothing like the number of officials would be necessary to issue tickets and give change. All that would be done for us by the garages on the difference between the wholesale and retail price. I recommend that as something which might be thought of as a means of alleviating the tiresomeness of tolls. In any case, tolls should be only a very temporary measure.

As to the kind of figures, supposing the cost were to be £3 million and that Edinburgh was asked to produce £1 million, I believe that the servicing charge of that would be about £60,000 a year, which could easily be raised by tolls. The sooner that is started, the smaller the amount of money the Government will have to find in any one year, and therefore the simpler will be the problem of finance

5.34 p.m.


My Lords, my excuse for speaking in this debate is that I was Chairman of the Committee which decided on the site of this new road bridge; and I sat, with great pomp and circumstance, in Edinburgh, in the City Chambers I believe, with a most important Committee. The road is being built exactly where we suggested it should be built, and there are one or two things that I want to put into your Lordships' minds to-day. I am very interested in one word in the Motion of my noble friend Lord Ferrier—the word "round", not "around". My suggestion is that we should not be in a hurry about all this.

I suggest that when we get the bridge arriving at the South side of the Forth we should ask, "What are we going to do now, for we have an immense problem before us?" I would suggest that the road should go round Edinburgh, and not around it, and that the bridge should continue as the main road to the West of Edinburgh; and that South of Edinburgh there should be a branch line out towards Carlisle and another towards Newcastle. In my view, it would be extremely expensive and very difficult to make a main road to the East of Edinburgh. I believe that the road should go round Edinburgh to the West and then, at a suitable place—and I believe there are suitable places we—could have distinct ideas. The road should be able to take the greatest part of the North and South traffic to the West of Edinburgh. I believe that we have to take very strongly into consideration the developments that will occur in Fife. Once industries get started there, a great deal of traffic will come over that bridge, so that very careful consideration is needed of the road which is to come South. I would ask the noble Lord the Minister concerned to put forward the idea that the road should be round, and not around, Edinburgh, and that the place for it is on the West side; and I hope that that will receive careful consideration.

5.38 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Ferrier has clearly done a great service in putting down this Resolution, which I am pleased to accept on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. My noble friend Lord Teviot drew the attention of your Lordships' House to the fact that we were talking about long-distance traffic round, or around, the City of Edinburgh; and I rather took Lord Shepherd's criticism of my noble friend's Motion in saying that he did not get to the heart of the problem; that the problem was the congestion in the heart of Edinburgh. That has been the pattern of many of your Lordships' speeches.

I must, however, agree with my noble friend Lord Ferrier. I believe that a debate solely on the internal problems of Edinburgh, difficult though they may be, would be too far removed from Ministerial responsibility, and that the Motion is right. But we cannot consider the Motion without consideration of the internal problems—I will make no comment on police signals. Before I deal with the main case may I therefore deal with the question of the internal traffic problem in Edinburgh?

The report of the inquiry into the proposal that there should be a roundabout at Randolph Crescent referred to the relationship between the roundabout and a plan to meet the traffic needs of the city as a whole. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State thought this to be one of the matters for consideration by the City in their 1962 statutory review of their Development Plan. I am advised that the Corporation have already decided to have this summer a traffic survey of internal movements within the City, which is an essential first step towards making the correct decisions, just as the traffic survey we have recently had is an essential first step in making decisions about the through-Edinburgh traffic.

The noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, and the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, mentioned the problem of pedestrians. This is essentially a conflict between the pedestrians and the internal traffic and it must be removed. I think it was the noble Lady who said that Edinburgh would soon become a main trunk road. I must draw her attention to the fact that the recent census revealed that, of the traffic which was said to be using Princes Street, that going through Edinburgh was only 1.4 per cent. So, on the census, it is inconceivable that Princes Street can be, or is now, a by-pass or a road for through-traffic. We must not consider that Edinburgh's internal problem can be solved, at least to any very great extent, by taking the traffic away from the centre of the City.

My noble friend Lord Saltoun was a little worried about the whole principle of tolls. As he will know, the road programme involves formidable expenditure, and in 1955 the then Minister of Transport announced that, in order to fit in major schemes earlier than would otherwise be the case, tolls would be charged in suitable cases. Thus there are toll projects at the Dartford and Tyne tunnels and at the Severn, Tamar, Forth and Tay Bridges. I should tell my noble friend that if there were no tolls for these very big projects it would have been more difficult for Scotland to establish the priority she did establish for her two new bridges.

My noble friend Lord Ferrier asked how tolls were fixed. I must tell him that tolls must be fixed in a way regulated by the Forth Bridge Order, 1958. The form is quite simple. Between six and twelve months before the date of opening, the Joint Board must publish proposals for tolls. These are subject to objections and public inquiry and my right honourable friend may approve the proposals with or without alteration.

My noble friend Lord Stonehaven very, properly drew the attention of the House to the vital importance of the level of toll. The Board's proposals require careful preparation and they must be supported by evidence; and this has directed our minds to the need for expert advice. I can tell your Lordships that my Department will this week discuss with the Clerk to the Joint Board the need to appoint consultants; and probably the Board will consider this at their next meeting. There is one further point before I get down to the main case. My noble friend Lord Ferrier asked: "Why do you not talk to the A.A. and the R.A.C., the road hauliers and other sectional interests?" The usual pattern in both local authority and departmental road development is for sectional interests to have their say when proposals are published. But we can take criticism, and I think there is something in what the noble Lord said. We are considering whether it would be helpful to discuss, so far as is proper, our plans for the next five or ten years with outside bodies which have special experience of or special interest in our road problems and how we can solve them.

To come now to the main case for a trunk route, since your Lordships discussed the question on July 21, as my noble friend said, two things have happened. First, we have the results of the traffic survey —that is what we were waiting for on the last occasion. Secondly, we have the results of the Randolph Crescent inquiry, which I think has some relevance, in the way I have mentioned, to Edinburgh's traffic problems, by drawing such great attention to—spotlighting as it were—the internal problems arising from outside traffic. The noble Lord said that the second important thing was the Tay Bridge. I will try to weaken, if not demolish, his argument a little later.

First, as to the traffic survey which we have had, which was intended to evaluate the need and the immediacy of the need for Edinburgh to make better provision for through-traffic. My noble friend cast doubts on this survey, but they were, I think, most unfairly cast. There is plenty of "know-how" available. The Edinburgh survey was carried out with the help and advice of the Scottish Office, the Road Research Laboratory and Dr. Williams, of Durham University, who is either the, or at least an, acknowledged authority on these matters. The results of the survey—and we are quite satisfied as to how it was carried out—are most revealing On a typical midsummer day, 32,000 vehicles entered and left Edinburgh, and of those 92.8 per cent. either ended their journey in or had to visit Edinburgh.

Our consideration on a road around Edinburgh therefore focuses on, as your Lordships will have realised, 7.2 per cent. of the traffic. But (and this is what I think has not been realised) it can focus only on that portion of the 7.2 per cent. which could possibly be expected to use the full length of the by-pass. That proportion is 4.3 per cent., because the balance would use a small part of the by-pass and go on elsewhere. Even this 4.3 per cent. is a slightly exaggerated figure, because 1.8 per cent, out of the 4.3 per cent. are those who were passing through and who said they would go via Princes Street or Queen Street. Some of these, as your Lordships will know, might have gone to Musselburgh or Barnton and might not have used a ring road because it was quicker to go through Princes Street.

But we have counted them all in. I might add here that 4.3 per cent. means 1,422 vehicles per 16-hour day. That is fewer than those which used the least-used approach road into Edinburgh during the survey.

My Lords, how far have we got? We know that the by-passable traffic that could be passed around Edinburgh is something less than 1,500 vehicles a day. What will be the number once the bridge is open? Of course it will increase the traffic now using the ferries, but how much will it increase through-traffic and not Edinburgh traffic? A serious competitor for long-distance traffic must be the free passage—I underline the words "free passage"—over the Kincardine Bridge. As our plans develop, there will be a West Coast route from Kincardine to London of about 400 miles of dual-carriageway, of which 300 will be motorway. Crossing the Forth Bridge, an East Coast route will also be about 400 miles, and 300 miles of this will be dual-carriageway, not motorway; and about 100 miles will be one of the three Edinburgh to Newcastle single-carriageway routes we all know so well.

As to the weather, it affects both routes, whether East or West; but while there is little hope of really major improvements on one of the three Edinburgh to Newcastle East Coast roads, there will, in a few years, be easier gradients and better visibility over Shap and Beattock. So as a generality, it would seem that Scottish traffic using the East Coast route will, in the main, be confined to traffic bound for Newcastle and Yorkshire; and even some of the Yorkshire traffic, especially from Glasgow, may find it more profitable to strike off the West Coast route and use the proposed Lancashire-Yorkshire motorway when it is built.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? Does he mean by that that the approaches to the North of the Kincardine Bridge are going to be improved?


Yes, my Lords, I can tell the noble Lord that. At the present time, my Department are trying to make arrangements to trunk the main road that is not yet trunked, in order to de-trunk one of the other roads, so that my right honourable friend can adapt the road as a trunk road and have it under his care.


My Lords, as I understand it, the noble Lord's case is that there is now a relatively small demand, and a small anticipated demand, of traffic that will go round Edinburgh to the Forth Bridge. It would therefore seem to me that, based on the noble Lord's figures and on his supposition, the Forth Bridge is going to be purely for Edinburgh traffic moving North. I should not have thought that that justified the building of such a large bridge; and I wonder whether the noble Lord could not give us some idea of what development this Forth Bridge will bring. Surely he must have some idea how the bridge, when it is built, will affect the development of traffic.


My Lords, yes. I think that, if the noble Lord will let me develop my argument, that point will become clear. This is a difficult thing to try to present. So far, I was trying to compare the West coast route with the East coast route, because we must look 10 to 20 years ahead. What I said was simply that, as a generality, the Scottish traffic using the East coast route will, in the main, be confined to the Newcastle and Yorkshire traffic, but, even with the Yorkshire traffic, it might be more profitable to go round the other way.

Now I have dealt with the noble Lord's point about the Kincardine Bridge northern approaches, of which we are fully aware. The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, considered that the Tay Bridge will considerably affect the traffic round and through Edinburgh. No one has argued against the Tay Bridge. Once it is erected, Dundee and Fife will be truly joined together—a marriage which must surely benefit both. But it seems doubtful whether the Tay Bridge will carry a very much increased volume of traffic bound for Newcastle and Yorkshire via the Forth Bridge; and it seems even more doubtful whether it will carry a much increased volume of traffic bound for London and the West. There are several factors to be considered when comparing, as one must, the relative attractions of the route by Perth and that by the Tay Bridge. One will be free, and the other not. The Aberdeen-Perth road is better than the Aberdeen-Dundee road, and is only four miles longer. Dundee is itself a fairly congested town, and the distance from Dundee to the Forth Bridge via Perth, when that road is renewed as a double carriageway, will be only 6½ miles longer than via the Tay Bridge. So, though the Tay Bridge is essential to open up Fife, I do not think it will be a main traffic route.

Now there is already a busy Inverkeithing-Perth road, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said: "What have you in mind for the roads North of the Forth?" He put his finger right on the point. When the bridge is opened, that road will, of course, get busier. It is proposed to reconstruct this road to a dual-carriageway standard, at a cost of about £6 million. It is too early to be very exact on the timing for completion, but within the next five years work will start on roads by-passing Cowdenbeath arid Kelty, and, I hope, Glenfarg.

I hope I have said enough to show that the Forth Bridge-Edinburgh By-pass is unlikely to carry Scotland's main stream of through traffic to England. That is all I wanted to show. It is unlikely to carry the main stream, but it will undoubtedly carry more Fife and North of Scotland traffic bound for Newcastle and Yorkshire, to which must be added the Falkirk, Stirling and Grangemouth traffic similarly bound. How much more than the present 1,422 vehicles will that be? I agree with my noble friend Lord Haddington that we cannot say exactly how much that will be. Twice?—that will be a big increase: I am sure my noble friend Lord Ferrier will agree with that. But we might be wrong. Let us call it three times—say, 4,000 vehicles a day. The question we have to ask is whether an estimated (and I underline the word "estimated") 4,000 vehicles a day some time in the future justifies the building of a new by-pass now at the cost of £2 to £4 million.

For the next five years, we have a programme for spending some £40 million on the major industrial trunk routes that are, not estimated to carry. but which are now actually carrying (and the number will steadily increase) not 4,000 vehicles a day, but up to twice that number—dangerous, overcrowded roads which now menace life and communications. I refer to the Glasgow-Stirling Road, now carrying 8,000 vehicles a day; Glasgow to the Border, 6,000 vehicles; Glasgow to Edinburgh—that dangerous road—7,000 vehicles; Edinburgh to Stirling, 6,000, and the lnverkeithing-Perth road, to which the noble Lord has already drawn attention, carrying 4,500 already, before the Forth Bridge is open. I must tell your Lordships frankly that, in this perspective, against an Edinburgh By-pass which would probably ultimately carry some 3,000 or 4,000 vehicles, if we had more money there are many other roads on which it should be spent just now.

As I said in the last debate, I am not arguing that a by-pass is not desirable or necessary. The question is not whether, but when. But there is the immediate problem that Edinburgh has to face and which your Lordships have drawn so much attention to, and that is her internal traffic routes and what can be done to help there. My noble friend the Duke of Atholl mentioned the Empire Games in connection with the Edinburgh congestion. If the Empire Games come to Edinburgh, I think in 1966, probably most of the traffic will be in the area of Murrayfield and Roseburn. The Games will certainly increase the congestion of traffic within the city, but that traffic would be unlikely, I think, to make much use of a by-pass round it.

Now what is the solution for Edinburgh? We know that Edinburgh's so-called inner ring road is quite unsuitable. It is a nonsense, and everybody knows it—if they can find it. But Edinburgh has plans for an outer ring road. Parts of it exist already, and those parts need only joining up. Such a road, when completed, would help to relieve Edinburgh's own internal congestion, and would also carry all the through traffic until such a time as a new road could be built outside it and parallel and quite close to it. It seems to us that if Edinburgh will complete that outer ring road, it will help not only to carry all the through traffic that we can estimate, even in our wildest dreams, but will also help to relieve Edinburgh's congestion: whereas, if you have a by-pass outside, it will have no effect on Edinburgh's congestion. We should like to see work on this outer circular road go ahead as a matter of urgency.

The Lord Provost has given me an assurance that the Corporation are fully aware of their responsibilities. In the light of the survey, he has said that the city does not consider a city by-pass road essential. Neither do we; but the Corporation are concerned to preserve from development the land on which it would be built. He tells me, however, that they are convinced that the outer ring road is a necessity, and they are taking active steps to develop it as and when opportunities arise. A section of this road is nearing completion now. My right honourable friend, on his part, is prepared to consider any proposal which the Corporation put forward for linking up adequately those sections of the outer circular route which now exist, and he is prepared to find his share of the cost. My right honourable friend has asked me to accept this Resolution, because he is inclined to think that this should be dealt with by the Corporation as a matter of even greater urgency than they now attribute to it.


My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, could he deal with one point? He mentioned 400 miles. That, surely, is going by the East coast road, and not through Jedburgh.


I think I said (or I ought to have said) "about" 400 miles. I think there are 20 miles in it, one way or the other, but it is about 400 miles.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I say that he agreed with us on the question of the ring road. I wonder whether he could not persuade the A.A. or the authorities there to do something in the way of signposting the road. It is very bad. It may be understood by the Edinburgh folk, but for tourists it is a nightmare. And it is very dangerous. When you are looking for a junction and for a signpost, you have one eye looking for that and not on the traffic, and I think it is dangerous. This is something which could be done without a great deal of expense.


I will promise action on that request, but I cannot guarantee results.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, as made no mention at all in his speech of the amenities of the New Town of Edinburgh, may I ask him one question? Can he tell me whether the refusal of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, at the Randolph Crescent inquiry, to allow the construction of a roundabout there, and therefore open it up for traffic, has established the principle that Georgian Edinburgh shall not be at the mercy of changing traffic needs?


I am afraid that I could not make a quick answer to that question. I will write to the noble Earl, but it is very dangerous to take sides on this question.

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to me to thank all the noble Lords who have taken part in this very interesting debate, which I have no doubt will be studied in the North. In particular, our thanks go to the Minister of State for his speech, which will be dissected with the greatest care, at least by one person from North of the Border.

I should like to reinforce what the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, said just now; that this matter is one of extreme importance. With a view to cutting down the length of my speech when opening the debate, I confess that I blue-pencilled a number of points, one of which was that the origin of this Resolution sprang, to my mind, from my strong feelings about Georgian Edinburgh. The Old Town is indestructible, and the City has done a great deal to improve the Canongate and the surrounding area. But they failed, I feel, to appreciate the future in their treatment of George Square. It is that very line of approach which makes those of us who are devoted to the Georgian architecture of the New Town fear lest it, too, be damaged. And we feel, as does the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, that it would be a great thing to know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State also feels that Georgian Edinburgh should remain inviolate.


I hope the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, did not think that I was in any way discourteous in not referring to matters like this—


Not at all.


But my right honourable friend is always, or nearly always, "sub judice" in the event of a dispute. Therefore it is most unwise for a Minister from this Box to express any opinions about something which my right honourable friend might have to have decided between two contesting parties.


My Lords, I fully understand that, but I hope there is no objection to my making the point, because I have founded my speech upon the question of commercial traffic, and the financial side. I said only a few words about the æsthetic side, yet I wanted to point out to your Lordships that that was the fons et origo of this Resolution—this question of its being an asset to the nation, not only to Edinburgh; this jewel of a city, and what it means to us, not only in the archaeological sense but financially, in relation of that horrible word Tourism.

My Lords, I am sorry, but I still have reason to doubt a little the figures of the survey which the noble Lord has so stoutly defended. However, the hour is too late for me to develop that theme. My doubts spring, in large measure, from the approach to the question from the commercial angle. The period of this survey was a difficult period, the last week in June, when trade holidays were near, and I believe that an enormous amount of traffic would have slipped through the net, because the traffic uses only part of what would be the by-pass. Nevertheless, I feel that other noble Lords will be with me if we welcome very much the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, has accepted this Resolution, and the way in which he has assured us that my right honourable friend intends to treat the outer circular road as a matter of real urgency. That is an outcome which will be regarded with the utmost delight by people like myself. My Lords, I again thank those who have taken part in this debate.

On Question, Resolution agreed to.