Tenth Of Fuel Tax Enough
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THE equivalent of a little more than a tenth of the present tax on fuel would provide a sufficient sum to look after a £500m. road-development loan which, if issued inblocks when the physical construction programme called for funds, and if issued even at the unduly high rate of 4 per cent., would at its peak require a maximum of £29m. for interest and sinking fund.
This plan on road finance was suggested to the House of Commons by Sir Gurney Braithwaite, last week, when he referred to his proposal of six months ago for a £500m. loan over a period of 30 years for new road construction.
It was difficult to compute what the out-of-date roads were costing the nation, but on trunk routes it was estimated that a motorway would reduce operating costs by as much as £25,000 a mile each year. • Under the Government's present road programme, the total expenditure from Exchequer and local-authority sources would reach £100m. a year in some four years' time. The total outlay on new construction and major improvements would be only some £18m.a year, which was the figure spent for those purposes in 1938-39.
Since then, went on Sir Gurney, there had been virtually no expenditure on new road construction, but during the same period vehicle registrations had practically doubled.
"Thus, when the Government's road programme reaches its maximum, since costs are now 2f times those of pre-war, it follows that only a fraction of what was done in 1938-39 will be achieved, even allowing for the improved efforts of road construction which are now available," he said.
Saying that the Ministry of Transport welcomed "these ever-recurring" debates on roads, Mr. Hugh Molson stated that the expansion announced last December was getting under way, and if the conditions of the country continued to improve as they had done during the past 2-1years, it should be possible to expand the road programme still further.