§ Mr. LOVERSEED
asked the Minister of Transport (1) what steps he intends to take in order to help rural district councils in Suffolk to put the roads in such a condition as to carry the heavy motor traffic to which the roads are now subjected; and whether he is aware that these councils now find it impossible to meet the heavy costs involved in keeping the roads in any decent kind of repair;275W
(2) whether his attention has been drawn to the bad condition of the roads in West Suffolk; whether he intends to make to this poor agricultural county a special grant to cover the necessary cost of upkeep and repair to enable the roads to carry modern traffic:
(3) whether, in order to enable poor agricultural counties, like West Suffolk, to meet the necessary cost of upkeep and repair, he will consider the possibility of making grants of 75 per pent. to first-class roads and 50 per cent. to second-class in order to ease the burden on the ratepayers?
§ Mr. GOSLING
As I stated on 17th June, in reply to a question by the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest and Christchurch Division (Colonel Ashley), it is proposed to allocate immediately a further sum of £1,000,000 towards the improvement of important roads in rural areas. This is additional to the sum of £2,750,000 already allocated during the past 15 months. So far as the county of Suffolk is concerned, the normal grants from the Road Fund, towards the maintenance and improvement of Class I and Class II roads, amounted, during 1923–24 to £56,531 to highway authorities in East Suffolk and £29,221 to those in West Suffolk. These grants alone represent a sum of approximately 1s. 6d. per £ of assessable value. In addition, and quite apart from the "Classification" grants, East Suffolk local authorities have since 1st April, 1923, received grants of £184,568 in respect of works estimated to cost £279,485, and in the case of West Suffolk local authorities the grants amounted to £30,473 towards works estimated to cost £46,857. From these figures it will be seen that generous assistance is being offered in recognition of the difficulties of the local highway problem. At the same time, I can hold out no hope of any general increase in the percentages of the normal grants to Class I and Class II roads, having regard to the limitations of the Road Fund and the other calls which it has to meet.