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Roads, Oxford (Inquiry)

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will announce his decision on the Oxford roads inquiry when the House reassembles after the Recess.

I cannot yet say when I shall be able to announce my decision, but I will do so as soon as I can.

Can the Minister give an assurance that he will neither come to a decision nor announce his decision while the House is in recess, because of the very important issues involved, especially if he finally decides to sanction the pernicious proposal to drive a road through the Meadows? Before coming to a decision, will he also have a word with the Chancellor of the University of Oxford about it?

Having a word with people after public inquiries is just what I am not allowed to do and do not want to do. I should not like to give an undertaking that in no circumstances will I announce my decision on this matter before the House reassembles, because there are many people who are extremely anxious for a decision one way or the other to be reached. What I will say to the hon. Member is that, after a decision is announced, a very long procedure has still to be followed and it will probably be several years before a single sod is dug.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that everybody will breathe a sigh of relief if he can bring to an end this inter-collegiate road warfare at Oxford in good time and once and for all?

Does not my right hon. Friend recall having a word with the Minister of Agriculture after the public inquiry on the chalk case?

My hon. Friend cannot have been present when I said in the House, in the early morning of 17th May, that I reached my decision that that appeal should be allowed because there appeared to be no substantial agricultural or amenity objection to it. I let the Ministry of Agriculture know that that was my view. I am quite sure that it was proper for me to do that, and the Ministry of Agriculture had no comment or objection to raise.