§ 2.52 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Erskine Bridge Tolls Bill, has consented to place Her interest so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Hughes.)
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I beg leave to say a few words on this Bill, and I am informed that it is in order for me to do so. It is not my intention to debate the Bill, in view of the way in which it is marked on the Order Paper. But the fact that it is being advanced in this way means that it will not be possible for the 9 Minister who of course was unable, through illness, to be present on Second Reading, to answer the few points I raised then. Therefore I should like to emphasise them. We are all glad to see, from the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, dealt with Questions today, that he is very much recovered.
I repeat that it is not my intention to initiate a debate, otherwise the Third Reading of this Bill will have to be adjourned, but I wish to press the problem created by the cost laid down for removing vehicles which stop on the Bridge. If the figure of £5 is to be the fee, as it is in the case of the Severn Bridge, and if £10,000 is to be the cost of maintaining the £350,000 worth of equipment, it means that 30 vehicles a day will have to be removed in order to meet that cost. When the Government come to discuss the charges which are to be made, I hope that they will include in those charges a modicum to cover some measure of the cost of removing vehicles which have broken down and not expect recoveries from fees or penalties charged specifically to the owners of such vehicles to be so high as to be unreasonable.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, on Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, concluded his remarks by asking that the Government bear these things in mind when the charges were being fixed for the Erskine Toll Bridge. I am very happy to be able to assure the noble Lord that the Government will do as he has suggested, and have regard to the economics of these operations.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. The noble Lord, Lord Hilton of Upton, who acted for him said that I should get all the information necessary later on. I gather that that will be the case.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed.