§ 3.37 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I beg to move that the Tay Road Bridge (Scheme) Approval Order 1969, a draft of which was laid before the House on 26th June, be approved. The original Tay Road Bridge Order of 1962 authorised capital expenditure on the bridge up to 1. maximum of £4-5 million. It also provided that any excess expenditure above this should be defrayed by means of a scheme agreed by the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board and its three constituent authorities—Dundee Town Council, Fife County Council and Angus County Council—approved by the Secretary of State. Under this provision the maximum capital expenditure was increased in 1966 to £6-5 million, in the light of costs as then estimated, when the works were not quite complete, and the need to allow a margin for the accumulation of interest on loans made towards the cost of the works, so far as the interest could not be paid immediately because of the insufficiency of toll revenue in the early years before traffic builds up.
The present Order, which increases the limit on the capital cost to £7-25 million, is required because the margin allowed in 1966 for accumulated interest has been used up by increases in the final cost of the works and a compensation settlement with the Dundee Harbour Trust higher 999 than had been envisaged. The present cost of the scheme, including compensation and capitalisation of interest is now calculated to be £6-6 million. It is expected that accumulated interest will bring this to £7038 million in a few years' time, after which the toll revenue will be sufficient to allow repayment to begin. The margin between £7-25 million and £7-038 million will allow for any errors in estimating toll revenue. The remaining provisions of the Order are consequential. They continue the present arrangements under which advances towards capital expenditure are made by the Secretary of State and the constituent authorities of the Joint Board in the proportion 75: 25, and the local authority loans are given preference in repayment over the Government loan. I can assure the House that neither we nor the Joint Board see any difficulty in repaying the loans within the statutory period of 60 years, and on present traffic trends the Joint Board have just decided not to increase the present tolls.
§ Moved, That the Draft Tay Road Bridge (Scheme) Approval Order 1969, laid before the House on 26th June, 1969, be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, spoke of the necessity for increasing the amount of traffic using the Tay Road Bridge. I wonder whether Her Majesty's Government and the noble Lord realise—he certainly ought to realise—that the build-up of heavy traffic over that bridge is very much impeded by the excessive and exhorbitant charge of 10s. per lorry. If the charge were reduced to 5s. it would certainly mean a considerably larger volume of heavy traffic crossing the bridge. At the same time this would help us in Perth, where our traffic congestion problem is greatly accentuated by the lorries which come through our city instead of using the Tay Road Bridge as they otherwise would.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, will be aware that consistently since it was opened, the traffic using the Tay Road Bridge has been in excess of the estimates which were made before the construction was authorised, and that this growth is still going on. The Tay Road Bridge Joint Board 1000 decided, I think about a year ago, to reduce the toll charge on buses travelling across the bridge, and I think we can safely leave it to the Board to act in the best interests of (a) their own finances, and (b) their customers; having regard to their obligation to repay the loan within 60 years.
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
My Lords, can the noble Lord give any indication of the increase in the traffic over the bridge during the past twelve months, say, or for some other convenient period?
§ LORD HUGHES
I am sorry, my Lords, but I do not have those figures by me. What I do know is what I read regularly in my local newspaper about the numbers that travel over the bridge in 24 hours. The figure is much more consistently at the 9, 000 and 10, 000 mark than at the figure of something like 4, 500 which was envisaged when the scheme was approved in 1961-62.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.