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Development And Road Improvement Fund

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the allocation of a sum of £2,000,000 which, according to the Supplementary Estimate, will be available from the Road Fund for expenditure by the Ministry of Transport on roads to relieve unemployment in necessitous areas will affect the resources at the disposal of the Ministry of Transport for the purposes of maintenance grants under the classification scheme and the normal road work of the country apart from special plans for the relief of unemployment; whether the Treasury will contribute to the Road Fund from the proceeds of general taxation a sum equal to that part of the expenditure from the fund which represents unemployment relief as distinguished from road work and estimated to be 50 per cent. of the total; and whether he will give an undertaking that the whole of the proceeds of the special motor taxation shall be devoted to road works and that the Road Fund shall not be raided for extraneous purposes connected with unemployment relief?

I have been asked to reply to this question. In answer to the first part I would call the hon. Baronet's attention to the provisions of Section 8 of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, as amended by the First Schedule of the Roads Act, 1920. The limitations there imposed as to the expenditure which may be undertaken for the construction of new roads and the maintenance or improvement of existing roads will be observed in allocating the estimated sum of £2,000,000, and it is not anticipated that the classification scheme will be prejudicially affected. I would remind the hon. Baronet of the provisions of Section 18 of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, under which regard must be had as far as is reasonably practicable to the general state and prospects of employment. Care is being taken, however, to secure that the fund is protected from uneconomical use, and the funds obtained from the Treasury and local authorities enable work on a more extensive scale to be undertaken.