§ Sir B. Janner
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement about the forward road programme.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
The financial provision for public expenditure on the road programme in England up to 1969–70 has been reviewed. The programme announced by the previous Government in July, 1964, was in terms of 1962 cost levels. Following a detailed analysis of 1964 road contracts and an assessment of250W rises in land costs, the provision has been adjusted from 1962 to 1964 cost levels.
Under the revised programme Exchequer expenditure on new construction and major improvement of roads in England will by 1969–70 reach a level of £238 million, compared with the expenditure of £215 million previously envisaged for that year. In the same year local authorities will find from their own resources some £42 million, representing their share of the cost of the work on classified roads, bringing total public investment on the road programme in 196970 up to £280 million.
The new level of £238 million for Exchequer expenditure in 1969–70 compares with expenditure of £132 million provided for the current year, 1965–66, in this year's Estimates.
The expenditure planned for the years between now and 1969–70 will also be increased. In the short term, however, expenditure, particularly in the current year and in 1966–67, will be affected by the current measures to defer by six months the start of certain road schemes.
Expenditure on the road programme for 1970–71 will be announced next summer and at the same time provisional figures will be announced for a subsequent planning period covering a further spread of years beyond 1970–71. This is part of a new procedure whereby the figures for roads expenditure announced each summer will cover the following four financial years instead of five financial years but will be coupled with planning indications for a further spread of years.
This change is being introduced for two reasons. The first is that we now have for the first time a National Plan covering all aspects of the country's economic development up to 1970, which indicates in all fields the pattern of Government expenditure. It is clearly desirable that the period for which roads programme expenditure is announced should be the same as that for other fields of expenditure and this will be achieved under the new arrangements.
The second reason is that it is increasingly necessary to give an indication in broad terms of the scale of expenditure on roads for a longer period 251W than five years so as to permit my Department, local authorities, the road construction industry and others concerned to plan and prepare farther ahead than has been possible so far. The need for this in the case of large urban road schemes has already been recognised in the arrangements whereby in April of this year local authorities were asked to cooperate in building up a list of urban road schemes to be carried out in the years immediately following 1970. The new arrangements for the road programme will enable this to be extended to inter-urban road schemes as well.
I shall continue to announce each year the additions to the rolling programmes of trunk and classified major improvement and new construction schemes. Announcements of schemes to be added to the programme for the period up to 1969–70 will be made soon. Announcements of schemes up to 1970–71 will be made by the autumn of 1966 in the light of the new financial programme.