Road Building (Expenditure)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby 12:00 am, 28th April 1970

asked the Minister of Transport what was the total expenditure on road building between 1965 and 1969, inclusive; and what was the total for the period 1960 to 1964, inclusive.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

For the five years up to March, 1970, expenditure in England totalled £1,180 million and for the preceding five financial years, £501 million.

Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby

Is that not a remarkable set of figures? Does it not demolish once and for all the myth put round by the Tories and their associates in the motor organisations that in some way this Government have cut back road building?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. [Interruption.] I should have thought that anyone who travelled round the country would have seen the evidence with their eyes and would have discounted the propaganda that certain organisations are putting out.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine , Tavistock

I am sure the House will agree that the Minister answered his own Question extremely well.

Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby

On a point of order.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I regret to have to take points of order during Question Time.

Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby

A serious suggestion has been made—that in some way the Minister answered his own Question. Can you advise me how I can refute a lie?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw the word "lie ".

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Why? The hon. Gentleman said it.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw the word " lie ". It is not in order to accuse an hon. Member of telling a lie. The hon. Gentleman must withdraw the word " lie ". If not I must ask him to withdraw from the Chamber.

Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby

I am reluctant to embarrass you in any way, Mr. Speaker and that is why I withdraw the word " lie " and say that the hon. Gentleman has made a mistake which he in turn should withdraw.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine , Tavistock

I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister answered the Question very well even if he did not himself put the Question down. Would not the Minister agree that, as there is a four to five-year delay in road-building programmes, what his answer effectively reveals is that this Government have built only the roads that their predecessors planned?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

On the question of responsibility for the Question, I have a serious confession to make to the House. Until this Question was put down it had never occurred to me to get the sums done to produce the figures. I was very impressed when I saw them. Obviously, the plans on which roads are built emanate many years before the completion of the roads, but there is a great difference between drawing a line on a map and organising, and finding the money for, the building of roads.

Photo of Mr John Ellis Mr John Ellis , Bristol North West

On a point of order. May I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker? My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) was good enough to fall in with your wishes in a very courteous way. There was an implication that my hon. Friend had put down a Question as a result of pressure from the Minister, and the Minister has assured us that this was not so. Do not you agree with me, Mr. Speaker, in view of the courteous way in which my hon. Friend dealt with this, that it was arrogant of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) not to withdraw what he said, and that he should now do so?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

I cannot comment on whether or not an hon. Member is arrogant. I thought he had fairly withdrawn.