There is a very strong point which is felt locally that I have been asked to raise. The Bill provides for three level crossings, and they pass the main arterial road between Sandwich and Ramsgate. The Minister of Transport expressed the following opinion:
Level crossings are out of date and ought never to be allowed, and if one thing annoys me more than any other, it is a level crossing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May, 1925; col. 728, Vol. 184.]
In view of that expression of opinion, I ask the Minister whether he cannot see his way to provide money for building three bridges across these level crossings.
I am sure the House will sympathise with the motives which have induced the hon. Member who has just spoken to raise this question. We all hate these level crossings, but the difficulty is that the wayleaves already exist, and Messrs. Pearson and Dorman Long were not willing to undertake to carry the road over the level crossings. Finally we had a discussion at the Treasury with the company, and it became quite evident that the whole transaction would have fallen through, had any such condition been imposed. Owing to the conformation of the ground, it would be impossible to sink the line under the road because it is practically down to sea level, and the purchasers did not feel willing to face the expense of abolishing these level crossings, especially as the purchase is of the nature of an experiment unless large traffic develops. The company are prepared to contribute £15,000 towards the cost of these bridges, and if the traffic should develop the rateable value will be increased, and the ratepayers will get some compensation for the expense to which they have contributed. I do not think the House will approve of any action which will deprive the Government of the opportunity of disposing of this port. It would be impossible to ask the House to vote money for an entirely local provision.