New Clause. — (Roads Advisory Committee.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Ministry of Ways and Communications Bill – in the House of Commons on 1st July 1919.

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Photo of Sir Herbert Nield Sir Herbert Nield , Ealing

I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has a right to speak with regard to road construction, for he has in the past given very valuable assistance to road authorities. I can speak as a member for the last twenty-five years of one of the county councils whose area takes in almost all the roads that radiate north-east or west of the Thames. I cannot understand the objection urged by the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. Jones) for the constitution of this Committee. It is not a Committee which has executive powers. It is only a consultative and advisory Committee, and it is constituted in such a way which I should have thought would have put upon it the complexion of democracy as a restraining authority against autocracy. I should have thought the hon. Member would have welcomed anything which restrains autocracy in matters of this sort. It seems essential that we should have a road authority of this description in place of the Road Board, which but for the War would have gone on carrying out some very valuable improvements. This kind of work is far better carried out in consultation with a Ministry of this sort than it would be if left entirely to Departmental officials. I am quite sure time will prove that this is a wise suggestion. While it does not enable this Committee to supersede or even suspend any work the Minister may take upon himself the authority of carrying out, it does at any rate give him the advantage, not only of expert advice, because it is absurd to think that those who are appointed without salary on matters of road construction will not be men of practical experience with very long years of experience in road making.

8.0 P.M.

I wish my hon. Friend the Member for West Willesden had been with us this afternoon. He himself has complete confidence in General Maybury. General Maybury, I understand, will remain in charge of this Department at the Ministry, and he has demonstrated as a member of local authorities, the chairman of county councils, etc., that he is a man to be trusted. He is to remain. What better guarantee is there than that such a man should be in charge of the Department? My hon. Friend is unduly suspicious. Those who live on these roads have their nights rendered sleepless by the shaking of the modern house when these huge cargoes of timber and other material are brought along the highway. I am convinced that there is nothing in this quali- fication of the Clause as it left the Committee which ought to disturb the mind of any Member.