HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc118-20W
Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources if he proposes to accelerate the revision by the Ordnance Survey of large scale maps of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Willey

For many years now there has been a serious lack of up-to-date large-scale Ordnance maps and plans (25ins. and 50 ins. to one mile) for most parts of Great Britain. These maps are essential tools for the work of planning development which is being undertaken on an ever-increasing scale by Government Departments, local authorities, nationalised industries and private developers alike, and much of this development is being seriously handicapped by the fact that many of the large-scale Ordnance maps and plans are 40, and often even 60, years out of date.

The need to bring these maps up to date is now urgent if future development is not to be impeded. I am therefore proposing to increase the staff of the Ordnance Survey by about 20 per cent. over the next 10 years or so to enable the Department to complete the re-survey of the whole country by about 1980. Without this addition to the Survey's strength, there is no hope of getting the re-survey work completed within this century.

Given the extra staff, it is hoped to complete the large-scale survey of the major built-up areas by about 1967–68, of the smaller towns by about 1970 and of the remainder of the country where there is less development by about 1980. Most, if not all of the re-survey work will be completed in the next ten years and from then on, over the following ten years, the staff of the Department will be gradually allowed to run down to about its present level.

This expansion naturally means a substantial increase in the operating costs of the Ordnance Survey. The additional cost is estimated at about £10 million at current salary levels over the next 20 years. Large-scale Ordnance maps and plans are at present supplied at a very low price in relation to the costs entailed in preparing them, while the increased costs involved in the expansion scheme are far in excess of what can be absorbed by greater efficiency through improved techniques or general economies. Thus substantial increases in present prices for large-scale maps and plans and related services cannot be avoided. The new prices will be brought into effect in the near future. These increases will not affect the price of the Ordnance Survey's small-scale maps produced for the general public.

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