HC Deb 29 July 1931 vol 255 cc2305-6W
Lieut.-Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Minister of Transport whether he can now inform the House of the Government's decision on the application of the London County Council for an undertaking that a grant at the rate of 75 per cent. would be available from the Road Fund should the council decide to promote a Bill for the construction of a road bridge at Charing Cross, based on the scheme recommended by the majority of the Advisory Committee presided over by Sir Leslie Scott?


I have caused the following letter to be addressed to the London County CouncilI am directed by the Minister of Transport to refer to your letter of the 22nd July (E. 2/43555) informing him of the decision taken by the London County Council at their meeting on the 21st July that, subject to His Majesty's Government agreeing to contribute from time to time 75 per cent. of the actual ascertained expenditure on the Charing Cross Bridge scheme and on the scheme for the reconditioning of Waterloo Bridge as recommended by the Royal Commission on Cross-River Traffic in London, and on the understanding that the net cost of carrying out the former scheme would not exceed £12,500,000, the council would be prepared to promote a Bill in the next Session of Parliament for the construction of a road bridge at Charing Cross and the removal of Charing Cross Station to the south side of the river, in accordance with Scheme No. 6 recommended by the majority of the Advisory Committee presided over by Sir Leslie Scott, K. C. 2. It is within the knowledge of the council that at the time when the London County Council (Charing Cross Bridge) Bill, 1930, was rejected by the Select Committee of the House of Commons the Minister caused an assurance to be conveyed to them that the Government would be prepared to support the council should they decide to move the recommittal of the Bill. The council, however decided on the alternative course of appointing an Advisory Committee to recommend 'an agreed scheme' for a new road bridge at Charing Cross. When this decision was conveyed to the Minister he considered it his duty, in view of the delay that would he involved and the uncertainty as to the outcome of the deliberations of the Advisory Committee, to inform the council that he must be regarded as free to consider any scheme recommended by the Committee on its merits and to examine it from the financial aspect, taking into account the position of the Road Fund at that time. 3. The council are aware that the resources of the Road Fund are now insufficient to meet the heavy commitments undertaken in connection with schemes for the improvement and construction of roads and bridges in all parts of the country, the initiation of which schemes has in many cases been expedited in order to provide some alleviation of the present state of unemployment. 4. Unfortunately, in spite of their thorough and arduous efforts, the Advisory Committee have been unable to submit a scheme which can be regarded as 'agreed.' The scheme recommended by the majority is in fact the subject of considerable controversy. Furthermore, on the question of the merits, the possibility cannot be ignored that future events such as a rapid development in the electrification of main line railways may profoundly affect the considerations which would determine the site of the railway station and the lay-out of the approaches on the south side of the river. 5. The Government have most carefully reviewed the position in the light of all the circumstances of the case, including the present serious economic situation, and have authorised the Minister to convey to the council their decision that it is not possible at the present time to renew the offer of a 75 per cent. grant from the Road Fund towards the cost of a new road bridge at Charing Cross.