§ 2.35 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the reasons for the delay in completing the by-pass round the village of Handcross on the A.23 trunk road.]
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, when work started on the Handcross by-pass in May, 1956, it was expected that, given normal circumstances, the scheme would be finished by December, 1958. In reply to a Supplementary question by my noble friend Lord Hawke on the 10th February last I said that the Handcross by-pass would not now be finished until July of this year. This delay has been chiefly caused by difficulties over land acquisition concerning the Horsham road bridge, which goes over the line of the by-pass.
In the first place, there were unexpectedly a number of substantial objections to the draft order enabling the Minister to build the bridge. Though most of these were withdrawn after detailed negotiation, it was still necessary to make a compulsory purchase order to acquire the land needed for the bridge and its approaches. Furthermore, entry on to some essential plots owned by All Saints' Church and the National Trust could not be obtained under the compulsory purchase order and, accordingly, further negotiations were necessary. It was therefore not possible for work to start on the bridge until 1st September, 1958, some five to six months later than had been hoped.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Does he not agree that it would have been better 440 if the Minister of Transport, when he drew the line of the by-pass before the war, had acquired the land?