HC Deb 03 November 1947 vol 443 cc149-51W
91 and 92. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Transport (1) what steps will be taken to ensure that in the drastic-reduction of road maintenance work every effort will be made to keep in good condition the roads which are vital for in dustrial and agricultural production;

(2) whether the proposed cut of 20,000 men in the road maintenance staffs of the country is to be confined purely to men engaged on maintenance work or whether it will cover in addition the curtailment of development work; and if the former be the case, what further cut in personnel is necessitated by the reduction of such development work.

94. Sir J. Mellor

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is satisfied that 20,000 men can be discharged from road maintenance in accordance with the Government's proposal, without irreparable damage to highways; what is the estimated minimum expenditure on road maintenance which will prevent further deterioration; and whether he will consult with representatives of highway authorities and road transport interests before reaching a final decision to reduce the standard of maintenance.

96 and 97. Mr. Alpass

asked the Minister of Transport (1) what type of work is to be eliminated in connection with the proposal to reduce the road maintenance force by 20,000;

(2) how the proposed reduction of the road maintenance force by 20,000 men is to be applied; and whether he will indicate what will be the reduction in each county.

Mr. Callaghan

It will not be possible to maintain all roads in their present state of repair but my right hon. Friend is satisfied that the proposed reduction will not cause irreparable damage. It is not practicable to estimate the minimum expenditure required to prevent further deterioration. Every effort will be made to ensure the maintenance of roads which are important for industrial and agricultural production and a close watch will be kept to see that deterioration does not go too far. In addition to the reduction in maintenance many schemes for new construction and improvement will be postponed. The reduction of 20,000 men will be from highway authorities' own employees but I am not in a position to say how this will affect individual authorities, nor can I estimate what further saving there may be in men employed on road works by contractors. My right hon. Friend will arrange for early consultation with the representative-associations of highway authorities on the best way of putting the Government's decision into effect.