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Tyne Tunnel

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1954

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35.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement on the proposed Tyne Tunnel.

36.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he can now state what priority is to be afforded to the construction of the Tyne Tunnel.

37.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has now further considered the Tyne Tunnel project; and if he will make a statement.

40.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give an assurance in accordance with his verbal undertaking that the Tyne Tunnel will have third place in the construction programme.

I fully recognise the importance of this project, and it is my present intention, subject to any unforeseen development, that the Tyne Tunnel should be the next tunnel to be approved in the road programme after the Dartford-Purfleet Tunnel.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will be warmly welcomed in the North-East? Is he further aware that my colleagues and myself, who met him recently, are deeply grateful to him for confirming the undertaking which he then gave to us, and that, if it will aid him in getting this scheme through if we help him to get the money for his Department from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we will gladly give him all the help we can?

Can my right hon. Friend explain to me why the Tyne Tunnel has now become the third priority, instead of the second priority, which was the undertaking given by Lord Leathers under the Coalition Government? Does he appreciate, therefore, that the North-East Coast is not quite so pleased as the hon. Gentleman apposite seems to think?

I am always glad to have bouquets, from whichever side of the House they may come. In reply to the hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Miss Ward), the reasons why authority has been given straight away for the Glasgow Tunnel have been repeatedly explained by me in the House of Commons. I hope the fact that the Tyne Tunnel now ranks as the next major project after the Dartford Tunnel, subject to what I have said, will bring some measure of comfort to the North-East?

Will the right hon. Gentleman understand that all the nice things which have just been said about him do not mean that we are satisfied with him?

In welcoming this improvement on the position as it was before we met the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to indicate when this project is to be resumed?

In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I would never anticipate what I shall find at the other end of any tunnel. On the second question, I am afraid that I cannot give any answer other than giving the tunnel a priority place in the programme.

Whilst appreciating what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the Tyne Tunnel, having regard to the fact that there are approach roads which will serve purposes other than this tunnel when it is constructed, will the Minister consider constructing the approach roads in advance of the tunnel itself?

I could not do that. However, the approach road which the hon. Gentleman may have in mind could certainly be carried out to completion long before the tunnel itself was completed.

Would the Minister tell us what is meant by "authority" and "approval"? Is he aware that he gave his approval and authority to the reconstruction of the Glasgow-Stirling Road, and that so far nothing has been done by his Ministry about it?

Authority means that the local authorities can proceed with the necessary preliminary work before work can start on the tunnel. In putting forward our programme of road construction, I have been at pains to limit it to those measures which we feel fairly confident we can carry from authority to fruition.

So that the employment standards of the North-East can be maintained, will my right hon. Friend press even further the cause of the Tyne Tunnel, and for the money for it, because there is great need that this tunnel should come to the North-East in the relatively near future?

I sympathise fully with the feeling of hon. Members on both sides of the House on the great importance of this project. It will be a great deal more expensive than the original estimate suggested, but its importance cannot be exaggerated.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that although there is already a railway bridge and a new road bridge over the Tyne, there is neither a road bridge nor even a tunnel over the Forth?