HL Deb 05 May 1966 vol 274 cc445-7

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Tay Road Bridge (Scheme) Approval Order, 1966, a draft of which was laid before the House on February 24, 1966, be approved. This Order is required because the cost of constructing the Tay Road Bridge has increased since 1962 when Parliament approved an Order covering a capital cost of £4½ million. That Order in 1962 provided that any excess expenditure should be defrayed by means of a scheme agreed by the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board and its three constituent local authorities, Dundee Town Council, Fife County Council and Angus County Council, and that scheme had to be approved by the Secretary of State. The increased cost has resulted partly from rising prices and partly from additional works; and the Joint Board considered that it would be prudent to make a scheme providing for capital expenditure up to £6½ million. The scheme has been agreed between the Joint Board and the local authorities and submitted for the Secretary of State's approval by means of this Order. Section 76 of the 1962 Order laid down that the draft Order must be approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament.

The scheme gives the Joint Board power to borrow up to a limit of £6½ million from the Secretary of State and Councils, the additional sums, beyond the £4½ million authorised in the 1962 Order, to be advanced in the proportion of three parts from the Secretary of State and one part from the Councils. It also sets out the terms of repayment. These terms provide that the Secretary of State's loans will be repaid after, if that should be necessary, the loans from the Councils. If the Joint Board are unable to pay interest when it falls due, the amount which they are unable to pay is to be added to the capital debt. I may say that of the increase a very small part indeed—and this is quite welcome—is due to increased costs of the original contract. The biggest item in the increased cost is the interest during construction, which in the ordinary course of events is added to the capital; that accounts for nearly £600,000.

There were a number of items the approach road on the Fife side, for instance, was constructed to a higher standard than was originally contemplated. I think that added a quarter of a million pounds. Furthermore, because of the effect the construction of the bridge had on the use of the ferries the figure of compensation to the Harbour Board for its Tay ferries undertaking was very much larger than had been foreseen. These, I think, are the main factors contributing to an increase in the cost at the present time to almost £6 million, and the Board felt, and the Secretary of State agrees, that it is prudent to make provision for a little margin beyond that. That is why the figure goes from £6 million to £6½ million. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Tay Road Bridge (Scheme) Approval Order 1966, laid before the House on February 24, 1966, be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)


My Lords, the bridge that is the subject of this Order will be an immense boon to trade and commerce and traffic and tourism in the East of Scotland, and I think also for long distance traffic from many other places, and it is long overdue. It was first promised by the Lloyd George Coalition Government of 1921. It would be rather an interesting exercise to make a list of all the excuses which have been made by successive Governments since then for not doing it, until 1959 when the Macmillan Government, in their Election Manifesto, definitely promised that it would be begun during that Parliament, which it was. I should have liked it to be begun at the same time as the Forth Bridge and finished at the same time. As it was, it was begun two years later and will be finished two years afterwards.

I am glad the noble Lord has made it plain that although there is a Government loan, a small loan, there is no Government grant, which is very unusual in cases of road development of this magnitude. But in this case the whole expense is being borne by the three local authorities, Dundee, Angus and Fife, and all we have to do is to sanction the amount of what they are allowed to spend. I think the increase which the noble Lord has mentioned, most of which is accounted for by interest, is very modest. The work has been carried out efficiently and up to schedule. It is a matter of universal sorrow that the contractor, Mr. Logan, who I think we all agree had been doing such a good job of work, should have met his death very tragically the other day in an air accident.

It is a happy coincidence that this Order should be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. As the Lord Provost of Dundee until 1960, he was chairman of the Joint Tay Road Bridge Committee and had the job of getting agreement about it. To get harmonious agreement between one great city corporation and two large county councils is not a task which many of us would envy. The noble Lord during his tenure of that office achieved it with great skill, and I should like to pay tribute to him. If it had not been for his work this bridge might not have been finished as soon as it is going to be. Now we are all looking forward to its opening next September.

On Question, Motion agreed to.