National Archives 2003-04-03

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Arrived at PRO as usual. Started the day (before departure) with three file requests: MT 39/465 (the Maidstone BP file), MT 121/63, and MT 121/64 (the Motorways Bill 1944 files). The Motorways Bill 1944 was never actually introduced, apparently, but orders were given to Parliamentary Counsel to work up what amounted to an early draft of the Special Roads Act.

MT 121/63

This continues the discourse on motorway-building which was started in MT 39/556. It contains, inter alia, drafts of Noel-Baker’s statements regarding the likelihood of MOT eventually building some trunk roads as motorways, many drafts of the instructions to parliamentary counsel, drafts of the bill and notes thereon by the PC, several drafts of a memorandum by MinT to the Lord President (of a Cabinet subcommittee?) explaining the MOT’s motorway policy and why it had not been engineered into the TRA ’46. We will go through this file in detail.




Answer to questions no 1 and no 72


HM Government have considered on what lines the improvement and development of our highway system could best proceed after the war and theyt hink that some preliminary indication of their general views would be helpful, both to highway and local authorities in framing their own plans, and to others who are interested.

Proposals to improve and extend the road system must in the first place be viewed in relation to the efficiency and development of our inland transport system as a whole.

Such proposals must also be framed with full regard to the interests of town and country planning, the location and requirements of industry, including agriculture, and other aspects of national development. My Ministry will, therefore, maintain contact with the many other departments concerned, as well as with the local and highway authorities.

Trunk Roads

In the Government’s oinion, there is a clear case for extending the present trunk road system, and they have it in mind, in consultation with the County Councils, to frame legislation which would substantially increase the existing mileage of trunk roads (that is to say, about 4,500 miles) which is at present vested in the Minister of War Transport.

Where a bypass which forms a link in a trunk road passes through an area of a County Borough (or in Scotland through a large Burgh) it will probably be found right to vest this section also in the Minister.

Discussions will be opened at once with the Highway Authorities, in order to select the additional roads to be scheduled as trunk roads. We intend to continue the arrangements under which the existing authorities can act as the Minister’s agents.

In order to secure the full advantages of new developments, it may also be found necessary to plan some new trunk roads, where the line of the existing road is not satisfactory.

The possibility of simplifying the present somewhat complicated system of grants to highway authorities is being considered.


Consideration has been given to the proposals made in various quarters for the construction of a new system of motorways, to relieve the pressure on our existing main roads.

While the Government do not think that there is sufficient justification for embarking upon the construction of a widespread system of entirely new roads reserved exclusively for motor traffic, they are satisfied that it will be expedient and economical to construct suitable lengths of roads of this type, where engineering and traffic considerations make this course preferable to the extensive remodelling of existing roads, in an attempt to make them more suitable and safer for mixed traffic.

In selecting lengths of road for this treatment, the Ministry would be guided by the proper development of our transport system as a whole by the conveneicen of road traffic, and by sound principles of town and country planning. Due regard would be paid to cost and amenity.

There is a strong case for reserving exclusively for motor traffic some of the bypass and other roads designed to enable motor traffic to avoid passing through built-up areas. The value of such roads is too often seriously reduced by their use for mixed traffic and by the frequent access accorded to traffic entering from minor roads. Proposals to give the necessary authority for this purpose will be laid before Parliament in due course.

Priority of work after the war

The roads of the country have on the whole stood up well to the heavy demands of war, but there will inevitably be large arrears of work, both of maintenance and improvement, to be carried out, as conditions permit. The rate of execution of the highway programme must be adjusted from time to time to general economic conditions, but, without imposing any undue rigidity, the following order of priority will be a good guide during the transitional period:

First, overtaking the arrears of maintenance.

Second, the resumption of works closed down during the war, if that is still desirable.

Third, works essential to public safety or to the reconstruction of blitzed areas, and works of special value to areas in urgent need of new industrial development.

Fourth, the elimination of obstructions to traffic on important roads, such as weak or narrow bridges, level crossings and the linking up of improved sections of roads on important traffic routes.

Fifth, other works of improvement of high economic value.

This list is not intended to suggest any absolute priority, in the sense that every highway authority would be expected to complete all its maintenance work before it turns to works of improvement; in practice there must be overlapping of the different items.

New Works

The Government intend to encourage the preparation of major schemes of improvement, including some of which are not considered at present of high priority, so that these schemes may form part of a long term and comprehensive programme of public works, available and ready to be put in hand, if general economic activity begins to give indications of an approaching decline.

Without precluding progress in the preparation of other schemes in England and Wales and in Scotland that can be shown to be desirable, for traffic and economic reasons, the Government attach importance, on the ground of its great economic value to South Wales to the provision of a new road crossing of the Severn Estuary. We think that the reinvestigation of the project for a Severn Barrage, which has just been instituted by the Minister of Fuel and Power, should not stand in the way of the provision of a new crossing, in view of the time which it would necessarily take to construct the Barrage, if it were to be undertaken.

Preparatory Work

Highway authorities will be encouraged to proceed at once with such preparations as are possible in present circumstances to enable the policy which I have outlined in this statement to be pursued as rapidly as may be practicable.


Mr Thompson Mr Lyddon Mr Newcomen Mr P Wilson

In preparation for the meeting on Tuesday, February 1st at 11 o’clock in Mr EV Thompson’s room, I attach draft instructions to Parliamentary Counsel for a Bill to amend and consolidate the Trunk Roads Act 1936 and a note on what should be included in the Bill to authorize the construction of motorways.

As regards the latter, we shall have to consider whether we are merely going for powers to construct roads solely for the use of motor vehicles for for wider powers to construct highways for a particular type or particular types of road users.

Important and difficult questions arise if a motorway incorporates any part of an existing road to which there is already a means of access constructed. I have considered the point in paragraph 5 of my note but it is clear that further thought will have to be given to it. Paragraph 6 also raises a very important point but I think it probable we shall have to devise some means of limitation of the use of the powers.

(sgd) HR Lintern

21 January, 1944

• Draft of instructions for a “Motorways Bill”

• Handwritten queries on powers the bill should contain

• Draft of instructions for a “Highways (Restricted Use) Bill”

• More drafts

• Letter, Lintern to Wilson, referring to a meeting on 24 February 1944

• Next draft

• Letter from Wilson to Lintern, commenting on latter’s letter of 29 Feb about the 24 Feb meeting: quoted below:


Mr Lintern

Highways (Restricted Use) Bill

I have gone through the heads set out in the annex to your minute of the 29th February and have the following observations:

1 I do not like the title which is a negative (“restricfted”) one. I think we must have a positive one or one that indicates a positive policy such as segregation of traffic. 2 As I understand it we have no authority to adapt highways for use by a particular class of traffic. During the discussion of our paper by the Internal Economic Problems Committee this point arose under two guises: (a) when it was proposed that we should only have the power to make motor roads experimentally, and (b) when there was objection to taking away from road users some privileges which they now possessed. 3 In our rejoinder we statted firmly that motorways had to be designed as such as that it was not possible without great expense to convert existing highways into motorways or motorways into allpurpose highways. We could not, therefore, agree to an experimental period; but we pointed out that it was not proposed to take any rights away from any road users because the policy we had indicated meant that no existing roads would be declared to be motorways. In the statement the whole of this was tied up in the phrase ‘roads designed to enable motor traffic to avoid passing through built-up ares.’ Special emphasis has been placed on that word designed. 4 This, however, should not prevent a new motorway being superimposed on an existing highway provided that the existing highway can be closed under normal powers either because it is unnecessary or because a suitable alternative has been provided. 5 We have no authority to include lighting of the highway as part of the function of the highway authority, and this would introduce a new principle of controversy which I think it is desirable to avoid in this particular Bill. 6 Who is to be the Restriction of Ribbon Development authority for a motorway which the Minister constructs? The compromise of the Trunk Roads Bill does not appear to be entirely appropriate: there are much more drastic restrictions required on a motorway. 7 We have no authority from the Cabinet to provide power for the highway authority to establish and run petrol stations and roadside cafes alongside a motorway. A proposal that the highwau authority shall run these establishments as distinct from arranging for such suitable provision to be made is sure to be highly controversial. 8 I think the Minister should hold a local inquiry in all cases where a motorway is proposed and not merely “if he thinks fit.” To give him absolute discretion in the latter way is a highly advanced proposal which is being reserved in other cases for the immediate postwar housing and reconstruction area needs. Even in those cases it was not passed by Ministers without some misgivings. 9 Your No 10 appears to go too far since all the provisions of the Trunk Roads Act, 1936, clearly will not apply to the Motorways Bill.

As noted above I do not agree with your No 11.

P Wilson

15 March, 1944

• Another draft (we are reaching, soon, a draft which represents evolved enough of an intermediate position to justify typing out in full).

• Press release from Noel-Baker, complaining that he has been savaged in the press for the excessive incrementalism of his dept. Defends the necessity of experimenting with motorways in the first place and compares it with the MOT’s similar experiment with cycle paths on the Great West Road, which showed them the best way to design the paths to meet the complaints of cyclists’ organizations. Dated 15/3/1944.

• Memorandum from Lintern to usual suspects (Wilson, Lyddon, Newcomen). It deals with interpretations of a statement in the 25/1/1944 statement, which was ambiguous, and suggested that existing bypasses (not just new, to-be-constructed ones) could be converted into motorways. Lintern goes through previous internal policy statements and finds that, notwithstanding the ambiguity of the Parliamentary statement, dept policy since Sept 1943 has been that existing bypasses won’t be converted into motorways.

• Another draft of the instructions.

• Covering letter to DG.


Director General

Through Mr Tolerton Sir Reginald Hill

(Copy to Parliamentary Secretary)

Mr P Wilson, Mr Lyddon and I have had discussions about what should be included in Instructions to Parliamentary Counsel to draft a Bill to give powers to construct single-purpose roads. We are now agreed on the attached draft, on which Mr EV Thompson has no comments to make, and I seek your authority to use it as the basis for consultation with interested Departments and (at a later stage) with the highway authority associations.

Early in our discussions we reached the conclusions that a Bill should be in general terms, the powers being available to all highway authorities to construct highways for the use of any particular class of traffic. The statement which was made in Parliament on January 25th last referred only to roads reserved for motor traffic, and no doubt that is how the powers will generally be used. We are agreed, however, that it is equally important to be able to construct a road reserved for cyclists or pedestrians, and, apart from the fact that such provisions would meet a practical need, to make the powers general obviates the possibility of criticism on the ground that special consideration is proposed for motor traffic.

That part of the statement made in the House of Commons relating to single-purpose roads was in the broadest terms, the only detail being references to the fact that frequent accesses from minor roads detracts from the traffic value of the main road.

In our consideration of the matter, however, a number of other points appeared to us to be of substantial importance, if a road reserved (for example) for motor traffic is to serve the purpose in mind.

Clearly the highway authority must have an absolute control, subject to approval by the Minister.

The notes which are appended to the Instructions explain why we have thought it necessary to suggest powers for lighting the highway and for the establishment and running of petrol stations and roadside cafes along such a road. As regards the latter, it is not contemplated that ordinarily the highway authority will themselves run the petrol station or café: probably they will enter into agreements with private persons or companies, but we think that the power must be there in order that provisions may be included in such agreements to exercise a real measure of control.

Paragraph 4 of the Instructions may need further consideration at a later date: at the moment it is in line with what is proposed for the reconstruction areas. If, however, it has to be amended in the light of what is finally determined as the Government’s policy in relation to the acquisition of land for public purposes, that can be done when Parliamentary Counsel starts on the draftinf of the Bill. Mr Thompson thinks, as I do, that no harm is done by suggesting the provision, as we are breaking entirely new ground in highway law.

The proposed title of the Bill does not wholly commend itself to any of us who have taken part in the discussions, but at the moment we can suggest nothing better. It is accurate, we think, in the effect intended, but something in the positive rather than negative sense would be more attractivge. No doubt partliamentary counsel will be able to help us on this point at a later stage.

(sgd) HR Lintern

31 March, 1944.



A bill to authorise Highway Authorities to construct highways for the use of a particular class of traffic.

Instructions to Parliamentary Counsel.

1 To provide that a highway authority may submit to the Minister for his approval a scheme to authorize them: a. To construct a highway limited in its use to a particular class of traffic; b. To incorporate in the highway parts of existing highways should this be found desirable; c. To rearrange existing highways as may be necessary or desirable in order to restrict the number of crossings over or under the highway; or points of access from such highways to the highway; d. To define the class of traffic which may use the highway; the conditions attaching to its use; and the exceptions in user which may be allowed; e. To prohibit access to the highway or development within 220 ft of the middle of the highway except with their consent subject to appeal to the Minister of War Transport as regards development other than the laying out, etc of means of access (these powers should replace the provisions of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, 1935); f. To close an access to an existing highway incorporated in the highway provided access to an alternative highway is given; g. To restrict the rights of statutory undertakers to lay mains, cables, etc. in the highway except with the consent of the highway authority; h. To light the highway. 2 To provide that the Minister may approve the scheme subject to such modifications s he may consider desirable in the light of any representations which may be mde to him. 3 To provide that Section 2 restrictions of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act shall apply to the highway when the Minister approves the scheme except as provided in 1(e) above. 4 To provide that the Minister’s approval of the cheme shall give the highway authority the power to purchase the land required for constructional purposes together with such other land as they may need for the establishment of petrol stations, roadside cafes and highway depots along the highway. 5 To provide that the highway authority shall have power alongside such a highway to establish and run petrol stations and roadside cafes. 6 To provide that where land is acquired for the construction of such a highway, no compensation shall be payable in respect of adjacent land by reason of the prohibtion of means of access. 7 To provide that the Minister shall determine as between the interested parties to the scheme the financial provisions which shall apply. 8 To provide for advertisement of the scheme in two newspapers circulating locally and for deposit of plans at the same time as the scheme is submitted to the Minister. 9 To provide that the Minister may hold a local Inquiry if he thinks fit, and shall do so if a request is made therefore by any county council in whose area any prt of the highway will be situated. 10 To provide that whee the Minister is the highway authority for the highway, it shall become part of the trunk roads system and the provisions of the TRA 1936 (and it may be amended) shall apply subject to the provisions of the Bill.


In the statement on highway policy which was made in the House of Commons by Mr Noel-Baker on 25th January, 1944, it was indicated that while the Government do not think there is sufficient justification for embarking on the construction of a widespread system of roads exclusively for motor traffic, they are satisfied that it will be expedient and economical to construct suitable lengths of roads of this type. Furthermore, the Government considers that there is a strong case for reserving exclusively for motor traffic some of the bypass and other road sdesigned to enable motor traffic to avoid passing through built-up areas, and indication was given that proposals to give the necessary authority for the purpose would be laid before Parliament in due course.

The general conception so far in discussions about motorways is that certain new highways will be reserved exclusively for motor traffic: in practice, however, it may well be found desirable to construct also highways reserved only for cyclists or pedestrians, and the powers should therefore be in general terms.

If a highway of this type is to serve its purpose, there must be adequate control of the types of traffic allowed to use it, and Parliamentary Counsel may like to consider whether the general powers of the Police in relation to control of traffic are wide enough to deal, for example, with a cyclist who uses a highway, the use of which is restricted to motor vehicles.

Access to the highway should be prohibited except with the consent of the highway authority, who should have an absolute control, as it is well known that a fruitful source of accidents is the diminiution in the traffic value of a road by the construction of accesses to it either from side roads or from private property adjoining the road. Similarly the highway authority should be in a position to control development adjoining the road, otherwise intending developers may have to make separate applications to two authorities for consent under the provisions of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, s for example, when the Minister is the highway authority for th new highway. The normal appeal provisions should apply to refusal of consent, etc as regards development other than th elaying out, etc of means of access.

When a highway of this type is planned it may be found in practice desirable to incorporate in its line parts of existing highways and power should be given to the highway authority accordingly. There immediately arises, however, the difficult question, if access is to be prohibited as indicated above, what provision should be made as regards access to development which has already taken place along the existing highway. It is suggested that no such access should be stopped up until an alternative access has been provided to a public highway.

The ideal at which to aim in the construction of a highway of this type is that there should be no connection with other roads from the beginning to the end of its length, or only at infrequent intervals. In practice it is hoped that such existing highways as may cross the line of the new highway can be so rearranged as to restrict the number of crossings over or under the highway, and the number of connections to it. This may mean the construction of flyover junctions, bridges or subways and there will need to be financial adjustment between the highway authority constructing the new highway and other interested highway authorities, bodies or persons. It is suggested that the Minister should have power to take all such matters into consideration and to determine the financial provisions which should apply.

It will be important to restrict the rights of statutory undertakers to lay mains, cables, etc. in the highway as otherwise traffic on the highway may be held up by necessary repairs to such apparatus.

The highway authority should have power to light the highway, as suitable lighting may hve an important bearing on public safety particularly at junctions with other roads.

If the highway is of a substantial length, there should also be provided at suitable intervals such petrol stations and roadside cafes as the highway authority may consider necessary in the interests of the traffic using the highway. It is suggested that the authority should themselves have power to establish and run petrol stations and roadside cafes so that the closest possible control could be exercised over them.

As regards the land wanted by the highway authority for constructional purposes and the provision of petrol stations, roadside cafes and highway depots, it is considered that the Minister’s approval of the scheme should give the necessary powers to purchase the land compulsorily and that where land is acquired no compensation shall be payable in respect of adjoining land by reason of the prohibition of means of access. Such a provision would be analogous to the provisions of Section 9(3) of the Restriction of Ribbon Development ct, 1935.

If the Minister is to undertake the functions outlined in the suggested provisions of the Bill, there must be adequate advertisement of the scheme in the districts which will be affected, and in general the Minister will doubtless think it desirable to hold a local Inquiry. It should be open to a county council to require him to hold an Inquiry if in their area any part of the highway will be situated (cf Sec 1(3) of the Trunk Roads Act 1936).

Where the Minister himself intends to construct a new highway to relieve trunk road traffic and desires to reserve its use exclusively for motor traffic the general provisions of the Bill should apply, but the final decision should rest with the Minister as it now is in relation to Orders made under Section 1(3) of the TRA 1936.


• Minute, Lintern to Hill. Lintern offers justification for several provisions, spending the most time on the power to provide petrol stations/cafes. Hill’s handwritten reply is scrawled at bottom: most significant part is his opinion that Parliament will expect to control the making of schemes, “I should have thought rightly so.”

• The DG’s reply. (Who is the DG? Hurcomb?)


Highways (Special Purposes) Bill.

I should like to discuss this matter with yourself, Mr Lintern, the Chief Engineer and Mr Tolerton.

I feel that we shall prejudice the whole legislation if we couple it with proposals which will be regarded as entailing an extension of municipal trding. I can see all the arguments in favor of this course but the proposal raises a political question of substantial importance. A convenient way of taking instructions of Ministers on the point may be to have a clause drafted showing what is involved but it will be difficult to satisfy them that all reasonable needs of traffic will not be met without public ownership or that the facilities provided cannot be properly regulated by licensing or planning controls.

Like Sir R Hill I find paragraph 7 of the draft instructions very vague.

As to access I should like something stronger than power to close an existing road only if alternative access is provided, unless it is quite clear that very substantial limits of deviation will be regarded as satisfying this condition. I prsume that by access we mean access for wheeled vehicles only?

On the general scheme of drafting I should be sorry if we had to take a course which implied any weakness in existing powers. Will it be possible to proceed by amendment of the Act of 1909, enlarging the powers of highway authorities to construct new roads or even merely by making those powers exercisable in relation to single purpose roads. I agree that the highway authority should have lighting powers.

Before seing highway authoritie should we not consult the Ministry of Town and Country Planning?

[unreadable initials]

12th May, 1944

Sir R Hill Mr Tolerton

Copies to

Mr Lintern Chief Engineer

• Copies of docs earlier in file

• Memo, Tolerton to Hill: doesn’t like the petrol stations/cafes idea, does not want to take powers for lighting, para 4 in draft should stand over. Otherwise agrees. 14/4/1944.

• Hill to Lintern. Much as Tolerton. 6/5/1944. Surely enough to provide only for erection & siting of petrol stns/cafes. Not sure what Item 7 of instructions means. No confirmation by Parliament for schemes? Shouldn’t Minister have power to himself build a single-purpose road?

• Lintern to Hill, copy present earlier in file (9/5/1944). It’s the memo explaining that management, not just erection & siting of petrol stns/cafes is important, no confirmation by Parl required but provisions for adverting schemes, and Minister counts as HA.

• Hill to Lintern, 10/5/1944. In file earlier. Hill basically agrees but says that Parl should confirm, and highway authorities should control petrol stns/cafes only by licensing.

• Copy of DG’s 12/5/1944 memo. Yes, it’s Hurcomb.

• Correspondence with the MOTCP, which took the bill as an opportunity to reopen the debate about relationship between hwy and general planning with MOT. MOTCP staff wanted to meet with DG. Feeling was that there should be explicit coordination of planning, to reduce the number of development consents a developer had to obtain, and because the Interim Development Act 1943 had subjected the whole country to planning control. MOTCP (preparing for what seems to have become the 1947 act creating greenbelts) was pushing for highway planning and general planning to be undertaken by the same (mostly local) bodies.

• Correspondence with Scottish Home Dept, reviewing the proposed instructions. Comments are of interest.


Highways (Special Purposes) Bill

Note by the department of health for Scotland and the Scottish Home Department.

1 It is assumed from paragraph 3 of the Instructions that the powers to be conferred by the Bill will be exercisable only by the authorities responsible for classified roads, ie in Scotland the County Councils and the Town Councils of large Burghs. 2 Presumably it will be necessary in some case to have a combination of local authorities for exercising the powers under the Bill to ensure the continuity of a new highway through the area of more than one authority. It will no doubt be considered whether the existing powers of combination are adequate or whether it is necessary to include a special provision on this matter in the Bill. 3 In the notes to the Instructions it is recognized that, where an existing highway is incorporated in a new highway, existing rights of access to the incorporated highway must be safeguarded until an alternative access has been provided. Should the Bill not also provide that the right to use the incorporated highway for general traffic purposes should be continued until an alternative route for general traffic purposes has been provided? 4 Are the powers in the Bill dealing with the incorporation of existing highways to be exercisable in relation to highways for which the authorities under the Bill are not responsible, eg in Scotland unclassified roads in small burghs? 5 It is proposed that the Minister should be authorized to determine disputes between the Highway and other Authorities or bodies whose roads or undertakings may be affectedby the highway. How is this provision to apply where the Minister is himself the Highway Authority for the purposes of the Bill? May it not be necessary to provide in such cases for the reference of disputes to arbitration? 6 Pargraph 7 of the Instructions provides that the Minister may hold a local inquiry if he thinks fit and shall do so if a request to that effect is made by any County Council. It is suggested that a public local inquiry should be held in cases where there are valid objections by any local authority, owners of land or other interested parties. If the scheme itself is to confer power to purchase land compulsorily it would seem very difficult indeed to dispense with local inquiries. It is felt, incidentally, that the whole procedure relating to compulsory purchase requires cafeful consideration. 7 The instructions propose that the scheme should become operative when it is approved by the Minister. It is felt that it will be difficult to avoid making provision for the submission of the scheme to parliament, and making its operation subject either to the affirmative or negative resolution procedure—or to such new provisional order procedure as may be desired. 8 It is proposed that any scheme approved by the Minister should confer power on the Highway Authority to purchase land for petrol stations, rodside cafes, etc. It isnot clear why the Highway Authority must purchase the land. Is it proposed that the Highway Authority should erect and mange the petrol stations and cafes? So far s petrol stations are concerned it is now clear how far the powers proposed would fit in with the general policy to be adopted in relation to petrol stations etc. This matter was considered by the Hill Committee. 9 It appears very doubtful whether it will always be possible at the time the scheme isbeing considered to establish a case for all petrol stations, etc which may be required. If this is so how is land tobe acquired for additional petrol stations etfc.? 10 Presumably provisions will be included in the Bill safeguarding the right of undertakers to lay and mtaintain cables etc in existing highways which are incorporated in the new highways and so far as statutory undertakers’ land is concerned, provisions will be included on the lines of those contained in the Planning Bill.


• Correspondence with MAF—includes interesting stats on severance. Ancient Roads (mostly Roman) severed only 1-2 farms over 4-7 mile lengths. Railways severed farms at a rough mean rate of about 2/mile. New arterial roads severed at rate of about 2/mile, but unlike railways did not have undercreeps at ½ mile intervals (accessible to public or to farmers). Also created severed areas of > 5 acres at rate of about 1/3 of severances. (Railway rate was about ¼-1/5.) (This data all preliminary.)

• 18 July 1944: Lintern has revised in light of comments received from interested Depts. More comments? Scotland hived off.

• 20/7/1944: Newcomen offers views. Thinks that special provision should be made for MinT so he doesn’t have to submit a scheme to himself. Should add provision to compensate in ways other than works, to cover situations where a person alredy has multiple accesses, or the works would be unduly expensive. Access points to a motorway to be restricted to just the number required to fulfil its purpose—ie diversion from surface roads.

• Correspondence indicating distribution for wider consultation—to the commenting govt depts and the County Councils Assn among others.

• Comments from the Borough Engineer and Surveyor for Birkenhead (B Robinson). Along the lines: bill should be explicit that it is for motorways; motorways should be planned for long distances, like railways, with spur connections to bypassed communities; (misunderstanding) the special-purpose road should be for motor traffic only—no parallel strips for peds and cyclists; good that statutory undertakers are out, but is lighting really necessary; why would special cycle and ped tracks be provided under the legislative machinery, esp when the legislation is national in scope and cyclists/peds don’t usually want to travel across the whole country?

• HM Webb, Bristol City Engineer, covering following points: can Minister give 100% grant for roads in county borough areas, if they’re special roads; what about coordination between planning authority and HA/MOT; will legislation ban agricultural access, which is important; and will legislation make it impossible to incorporate existing roads into motorways, which is an important and cost-sensitive point? (Lintern’s penned comment—“We know of no such case, neither do I think there can be one.”) City Engineer also proposes that the city should be able to actually run the petrol stns/cafes, but Lintern (marginal comment) says no.

• CCA comments. They’re against denying statutory undertakers access to the m’way. One provision in the draft could cause the HA in one county to be responsible for a motorway running into another county HA’s area. Powers should be extended to allow county councils to buy up petrol stations and close them where needed for safety reasons. Multicounty schemes should be advertised in EACH county (Lintern: “agreed; this is what was intended”).

At this point the file veers away from dealing with the Bill and moves on to Aldington’s memorandum covering a strategic road plan. Worth quoting in full.


Mr RH Tolerton Sir Reginald Hill Mr PJ Noel-Baker Sir Cyril Hurcomb

Copies to Major Adlington Mr HR Lintern Mr P Wilson Mr TG Newcomen


Notes of meeting held on 9th October, 1944 to discuss Chief Engineer’s minute of 15th September, 1944

MR LYDDON by reference to four maps and the traffic diagram, explained the reasons which had led him to the conclusions set out in his minute of the 15th September. He estimated that motor roads would cost approximately £100,000 per mile.

SIR CYRIL HURCOMB said that the economic justification for an expenditure of £86 millions on constructing 860 miles of new motor roads which would involve at 5% an additional charge on transport of about £2 ½ millions per annum which would hav to be fully established and regard had to the effect on other forms of transport.

He referred in particular to the Bristol-Birmingham motor road and the effect it would hae in detracting traffic from the waterway and the railway.

He asked if information were available as to whether the anticipated increase in road traffic would be the same on the individual routes concerned as in the country s a whole, and the Chief Engineer throught we must assume that the principal trunk roads would be affected by substantial increases in traffic early in the post-war years.

MR NOEL-BAKER said that in considering economic justification it must be borne in mind:

(a) That a rising standard of living and full employment would result in a large increase in both goods and passenger traffic; ie in more work for all forms of transport, particularly passenger coaches and cars. This must be provided for. (b) That the economical cost of congestion and accidents was very great. If an expenditure of £86 millions made even a modest contribution to the relief of congestion and danger it would be fully justified.

SIR CYRIL HURCOMB suggested that it must be shown that motor roads would not impair the stability of the railway system which in the war had demonstrated its ability to cope with the national demand. It was fallacious to assume that duplication of facilities would automatically create new trffic.

MR NOEL-BAKER sid that first priority should be given to the London-Birmingham-Carlisle motor road. He referred to the economies in the cost of public works which would result from the widespread use of mechanical plant.

MR LYDDON referred to the considerations which had led him not to assign first priority to a new London-Birmingham motor road.

MAJOR ALDINGTON stressed the contribution which a large programme of road construction would make to export trade in providing British plant manufacturers with an adequate basis for developing their productions.

SIR CYRIL HURCOMB said that in the submission which would have to be made to the Reconstruction Committee in this matter, the extent to which the construction of motorways would enable economies to be effected on the roads they were intended to relieve would have to be evaluated.

MR NOEL-BAKER said that it was his strong conviction that what would determine the claims of road, rail or water to the transport of particular goods was not primarily the nature of the facilities available on the three systems but their rate structure. He referred to certain classes of goods, eg fruit and vegetables, at present rail borne which it was in the national interest should be road borne.

SIR CYRIL HURCOMB expressed the view that higher priority should be assigned to the Liverpool-Est Lancashire Road extension eastwards into Yorkshire as a motor road and suggested that the first priorities might be:

1 Birmingham-Lancshire 2 Extension of Liverpool-East Lancashire Road. 3 Birstol-Birmingham. 4 London-Birmingham.

MR P WILSON stressed the urgency from the standpoint of town and country planning of determining approximately at least where the motor rods were to be, irrespective of the date of their construction.

SIR REGINALD HILL agreed with this view and asked to what extent the necessary surveys could be proceeded with during the war. He suggested tht there was a case for settling the lines of all contemplated motorways without entering into a final commitment as to whether what might be the more doubtful ones would be constructed.

MR NEWCOMEN referred to the provision made in the budget estimates for trunk roads surveys and suggested that from this angle, the surveys for the motor roads were only a phase of trunk road reconnaissance surveys.

It was agreed:

1 That survey work should proceed for the first priority group including Birmingham-Lancashire, Liverpool-East Lancashire Road extension, Bristol-Birmingham and London-Birmingham. 2 That a draft memorandum to the Reconstruction Committee should be prepared jointly by Messrs Lintern, Wilson and Newcomen and circulated. 3 That in this memorandum reference should be made, inter alia, to: alternative costs of (a) reconstructing the trunk routes on their present lines; and (b) constructing motor roads. The nature of the traffic using the trunk routes prior to the war, and any anticipated change in the nature, and the nature of the traffic likely to use the motor roads. 4 Economic consideration including 9) reactions of motor roads on other forms of transport; (b) bearing on Government’s Employment Policy as announced in White Paper; (c) evaluation of accident reduction and congestion elimination fctors.

Order of priority:

Need for an early decision in relation to—(a) the work to be done on the trunk routes; (b) the relation of the motor roads to town and country planning.

(sgd) AJ Lyddon

17th October 1944



The director general

There is of course much force in Mr Lyddon’s point that the routes and sites of proposed motor roads should be settled soon because of rections on reconstruction programmes on trunk rods and on town and country planning; particularly is it necessary to avoid heavy expenditure upon the improvement of trunk roads if that is likely to be proved unnecessary or inadequate to requirements by the construction of parallel motor roads. I think therefore that we ought now to try to come to a decision s to the motorway routes which we propose to construct s soon as conditions allow. In deciding, however, whether motorways hould supersede or duplicate existing trunk roads, we should not be unduly influenced by theory about “required standards.”

In map 2 a great proportion of the trunk roads illustrated is shown as requiring reconstruction on a new line to secure these standards, but it seems to me very questionable whether reconstruction throughout A1, for example, ought to be contemplated. Long lengths of this road carry only relatively light traffic and can hardly justify dual carriageways and much less cycle tracks as a question of urgency. I do not therefore consider that we ought to take s a target the wholesale reconstruction of the routes shown green on Map 4 (900 miles) as advocated in paragraph 9 and 11c in Mr Lyddon’s note. A selection of urgent improvements should be made on the basis of a careful analysis of traffic need and justification—including increased safety—rather than throughout standard.

The first step might be the surveys of the routs mentioned in paragraph 7 avoiding the lengths described in paragraph 8 which may well be needed but are of lower priority. I doubt if we can at present plan beyond the survey of the selected routes with the object of beginning construction, probably on a very moderate scale when labor resources permit.

As regards the selection of routes for motorways, Birmingham/Lancashire is probably the route on which we should concentrate initially. This may subsequently be continued south-westwards and south-eastwards, but I would not at present include south-west of Bristol or north-east of Birmingham. The wholesale reconstruction of the trunk road in South Wales plus the construction of a motorway closely paralleling it seems an unnecessary duplication.

I suggest, therefore, that we should concentrate first on

1 The selection of trunk road improvements where traffic conditions are such s to justify the earliest possible action and 2 The survey of a motorway road on the general line Birmingham/Lancashire.

(Initialled) RHH

19th September, 1944

If we are to contemplate construction of continuous lengths of motorways on the scale recommended in Mr Lyddon’s report, I think that we shall have to submit a memorandum to the Rconstruction Committee and that we shall have to set out persuasively the economica advantages and the economic consequences of constructing these particular routes. We shall also have to stat the elegislative and other powers under which we shall be able to undertake such an ambitious program and to indicate whether (if at all), we need additional powers.

Other forms of transport, especially railways but also inland waterways (which are particularly interested in the Bristol Channel/Birmingham route) and Coastwise Shipping may claim that they ought to be heard on questions of policy before works proceed on this scale. We shall also have to convince the Ministry of Agriculture that the new severances and occupation of land will not be unduly detrimental to agriculture.

I suggest that, as a preliminary step, we should discuss at a meeting, over which you or the Minister might preside, 9a) the line of the routes to be recommended and (b) the considerations to which the attention of the Reconstruction Committee should be called.

(Initialled) CWH

22nd September 1944

Parliamentary Secretary

As at present advised, I find myself more in agreement with Mr Lyddon than with Sir Reginald Hill. But I agree that we could usefully discuss the matter, and should be gld to have a meeting much as you propose, to prepare a paper for the Minister’s approval and subsequent submission to the Reconstruction Committee.

(Initialled) PJNB

Director General

• Lyddon’s memo follows. THIS MUST BE PHOTOCOPIED. 7 pp., single-spaced, too much to type.


Memorandum on the layout and construction of new roads reserved for motor vehicles

Following the completion of the work of the Augmented Technical Committee which was responsible for the recommendations on the layout and construction of roads now embodied in Memorandum No. 575, the same Committee was asked to consider in what respects their recommendations required modification to render them applicable to the construction of new roads intended solely for the use of motor vehicles.

The Committee made a fresh study of the problems using the framework of Memorandum No. 575 and the present memorandum which is based on the Committee’s recommendations is no mere adaptation of the previous document.

It may be thought that as the construction of motor roads will be entirely in the hand of the Department’s own Engineers and a fw Agent Highway Authorities it would be sufficient to provide for only limited circulation of the memorandum. It is, however, already apparent that there will be new sections of roads which are seldom likely tobe used by cyclists and pedestrians. In such circumstances as indicated in the Parliamentary statement, the principles of motor road design might be applied with advantage to economy and public sfafety.

I therefore recommend that this memorandum be printed and given full circulation. The subject is of great general interest at the present time, and publication would serve the further purpose of demonstrating that the Department intends to implement the Government’s intention to build motor roads.

(sgd) AJ Lyddon

24 October, 1944

• The memorandum on design of special roads reserved for motor vehicles—7 pp. THIS MUST BE PHOTOCOPIED (or scanned).

• Back to the Motorways Bill—comments from the Metropolitan Boroughs’ Standing Joint Committee.

• Correspondence with a MP about a mythical “Association of Highway Authorities.” It’s actually “Associations of Highway Authorities,” which in practice means CCA, Assn of Mun Corps, UDCs’ Assn, Metro Boroughs’ Joint Standing C’ttee, Assn of CCs in Scotland, and Convention of Royal Burghs.

• Parliamentary Q&A indicating MOT’s intention to introduce a motorways bill. 13/12/1944.

• 4 double-foolscap pages giving tables of HAA’s consultation responses.

• Yet another draft of instructions to counsel.


Copy to Mr Lyddon Copy to Major Aldington


Attached hereto are comments and queries on the draft Instructions to Parliamentary Counsel. They are, for the most part, mde in relation to the construction of SP highways by the Minister.

When you have had an opportunity of considering them, Mr Lyddon, Major Aldington and I would be glad to discuss them with you.

The Instructions contemplate that the intention of the Minister to construct a SP highway will be made known by public advertisement and the deposit of plans and that usually a local Inquiry will be held.

A SP highway which the Minister desires to construct may, considered in its entirety, be of considerable length, but he will probably construct it in sections. For example he might wish to construct a SP highway from Preston to Warrington some time before he constructed the whole or other parts of a Carnforth-Birmingham SP highway. Nevertheless the place of the Preston-Warrington section in the highway system, and thus the case for providing it, should be considered in relation to the larger whole, Carnforth tobirmingham.

Do you visualize that before the Minister could make an analogous Order for the Preston-Warrington section a local Inquiry into the whole (carnforth-Birmingham) would have to be held? If so this would become something more than a “local” Inquiry and it would be necessary to have the whole scheme prepared in sufficient detail to deal with any objection which might be raised as to any part of its length.

If, on the other hand, the local Inquiry were limited to the Preston-Warrington section and the Minister made an Order for this only, the opposition to the next section—say Warrington to Newcstle-under-Lyme—might be such that the Minister would be unable to make an Order for this; an eventuality which had it been known at the time the Preston-Warrington section was under construction might have led the Minister to abandon the project as a whole or to amend the line of the Preston-Warrington section.

It is in this respect that there seems to be a material difference between the circumstances of an Order for a SP motor highway and those of a SP or rordinary by-pass.

Further, the probability that the SP motor highway will have to be constructed in sections and, it may be, connected to the general highway system by temporary links the use of which will be discontinued when further sections are constructed, makes it necessary to provide in the Bill for the construction and abandonment of these temporary links.

TG Newcomen

Planning Section 16th January, 1945

• Newcomen’s comments—5 pp worth. Not worth transcribing in detail; may be worth scanning if time permits.

• The latest draftof instructions to counsel. Here’s how it has evolved. (In file, it has a pencilled number—110A. THIS MUST BE PHOTOCOPIED.) The bill requirements have been split, to cover (A) highway authorities other than Minister, and (B) Minister as a HA. Notes have been radically expanded, to include 13 distinct items.

• Comments from Tolerton.

• Comments from Hill.

• Yet another draft—No. 119 in file. This is apparently the draft sent to Sir Granville Ram, KC, the Parliamentary Counsel, on 10/2/1945. The Lord President’s Committee (whatever that is?) has given approval to the drafting of the Bill. Hurcomb wrote to request that resources be dedicated to the drafting of the bill and this was agreed to on 21/2/1945.

• 12/5/1945: Lintern tells the DG that the bill has been put on those not to be proposed in the coming session.

• 8/6/1945: a minute indicates that resources will be found during the summer to proceed with the bill and the Trunk Roads Bill (which had also gotten sloughed off).

• 11/7/1945: Lintern gets back his Bill, from Noel Hutton (representing the PC), with comments as to the unsatisfactory quality of the instructions. The letter is worth quoting in full.


Office of the Parliamentary Counsel 7 Old Palace Yard SW1

11 July 1945

Dear Lintern,

Motorways Bill

I enclose 10 copies of a first shot at this Bill, with apologies for the time it has taken to produce it.

I have found it quite exceptionally difficult to put the Bill into any sort of tolerable shape (and this observation should not be construed as an assertion or admission that the enclosed draft is at all tolerable). The main source of the difficulty is that any Bill on the lines contemplated by your instructions is in danger of infringing the rule that the function of a Bill is to change the law and not to advertise changes of policy or administration. It is however exceedingly difficult to draw any hard and fast line in this instance, for it seems to me that the Bill must necessarily proceed upon one or other of two assumptions, neither of which is correct without qualification. The most obvious method of presenting the Bill is to provide for the making of schemes authorizing highway authorities to construct the “special purpose roads,” and to hang all the consequences on that: but the fact is that highway authorities have ample powers already to construct roads and I know of nothing which prevents them from constructing, for example, a motor road in the sense of a road suitable for exclusive use by motors. Alternatively, one could build on the existing powers of highway authorities to construct roads, and provide that “where a highway authority propose to construct a road for the use of motors or other special traffic,” they may make a scheme providing for the restriction of the use of the road when constructed, and for the various other ancillary matters for which legislation is necessary. This alternative is in some ways preferable, to my mind, but it is open to the criticism that it begins by assuming the power to make a road available for particular traffic and then proceeds to confer it. In any event it only shifts the difficulty one stage further down the scale, since the main purpose of the scheme would then appear to be the restriction of traffic, which can already be dealt with (at any rate to a very great extent) under s. 46 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, as amended by the Act of 1933. I had considered a third method, namely to start with the assumption of the existence both of the power to construct the road and of the power to restrict traffic thereon (if necessary amending s. 46 for the latter purpose) and provide for the making of schemes dealing only with the subsidiary matters specified in sub-paragraphs (b), (c), (e), (f), and (g) of paragraph 1, and paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of your instructions, but this seems to me to make the Bill look much too much like Hamlet without the Prince. In any event it would obviously be somewhat inconvenient to deal with the restriction of traffic by an order under S. 46 divorced from related provisions about stopping up highways and so forth. On the whole, I am inclined to think that the first alternative is the least objectionable course, and I have put the Bill in this form, at any rate for the first round. This means that much of the Bill is, strictly, unnecessary, and in so far as it can be said to change the law at all, I suppose that it could be construed as cutting down the existing powers of the highway authorities to construct roads without the authority of a scheme. I have, however, attempted to indicate by differences of wording those parts of the schemes which will be genuinely legislative in the sense of conferring fresh powers or imposing restrictions or obligations, and those which will be more properly descriptive of what the highway authority are proposing to do; and, for what it is worth, subsection (5) of clause 1 may help to prevent inconvenient inferences being drawn from the structure of the Bill.

The second major question on the structure of the Bill is how best to deal with the special roads which are to be constructed by the Minister. This question raises all the sme difficulties as the question of the local highway authority’s roads, but with two additional complications. In the first place, it is necessary to bear in mind the fact that the minister, unlike a local highway authority, does not need statutory powers merely in order to cure any disability arising from his constitution. In the case of the Minister, therefore, the objection to conferring express power to construct roads by virtue of schemes under the Bill rests not on the fact that he already has adequate statutory powers for that purpose, but on the fact that he requires none. Secondly, there is the difficulty of fitting the Minister’s special roads into the structure of the trunk roads legislation, including the current Trunk Roads Bill. In the draft Bill enclosed I have followed your instructions in putting the Minister’s special roads on exactly the same footing (mutates mutandis) as those of local highway authorities—that is to say the whole project, including the construction of the road, is made the subject of a scheme under the Bill. The effect of this, as you will appreciate, is to create a considerable overlap between this Bill and the Trunk Roads Bill, not merely in relation to the special road itself but also in relation to the ancillary powers conferred by clauses 3 and 4 of the Trunk Roads Bill. Moreover, on this lay-out the procedure required for making a new trunk road will differ according to whether the road is to be a road for all purposes or a road for restricted purposes only. In some respects the requirements of the Trunk Roads Bill are more onerous than those of the present Bill. For example, if the Minister proposes under the Trunk Roads Bill to take over as a trunk road anypart of an existing highway, an objection on the part of the highway authority for that highway will make the Minister’s order subject to “special Parliamentary procedure” (whatever that expression may ultimately connote): if, on the other hand, the Minister proposes, under this Bill, to take into a motor road any part of an existing highway, there is no appeal to Parliament against that. Conversely, where a proposed road does not incorporate an existing highway, the procedure under the present Bill is slightly more relaborate than that under the Trunk Roads Bill, though the differences are not really substantial.

There would, I think, be a good deal to be said for dealing quite differently in the present Bill with the special roads to be constructed by the Minister. We might with advantage substitute for subsection (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill a separate clause more or less on the lines of clause 3(1) and (2) of the Trunk Roads Bill, providing (in effect)

(a) that the Minister’s power to make orders under clause 1 of the trunk roads bill directing that roads proposed to be constructed by him shall become trunk roads may be exercised in relation to a road proposed to be constructed by him for the use of motor vehicles or other special classes of traffic; and (b) that any such order may provide for restricting the use of the road when constructed and for any of the other matters for which provision may be made by a scheme in the case of a special road to be provided by a local highway authority.

The question which is the better method of drawing the Bill appears to depend upon the question whether the special roads provided by the Minister ought to be looked at as a special kind of trunk road, or whether they should rather be considered as a new kind of road altogether which, for limited purposes only, is to be treated as a trunk road. By way of illustration of this question, I may draw your attention in particular to clause 6 of the Trunk Roads Bill. Is it proposed that the powers conferred by that clause should be available in relation to a special road provided by the Minister, and if so what about an appeal to Parliament? Again, is it intended that the Minister should have power to “de-trunk” a special road under the Trunk Roads Bill, and if so will it remain “special” or become an ordinary road?

As appears from the above observations, I am extremely doubtful whether the structure of the Bill even begins to be right, and I should be very grateful for your views on the subject. In th emeantime it would be superfluous for me to refer individually to the numerous point sof detail on which the Bill is either wrong or shaky or incomplete. I have drawn attention to some of them by square brackets in the print, but it will probably be most convenient for us to go through the draft together when you have formulated your own criticisms.

Yours sincerely,

Noel K Hutton

HR Lintern, Esq Ministry of War Transport

• An “I told you so” note from Newcomen—noting a Times article about the Soviet Union’s noise (11/10/1945) about building a system of motorways, which are to have hotels, restaurants, garages and service stations.”

• Lintern to Hutton: where’s the beef?

• Tolerton to Wilson and Lintern: I spoke to Hill around 6/12/1945 (“the other day”), and we think P Wilson should see it through.

• Lintern to Wilson, including his 3/12/1945 note to Hutton and Hutton’s 7/12/1945 reply. Hutton complains he can’t give the bill time because it’s not high enough in the legislative program, and Lintern had given him a couple of tough nuts to crack which he couldn’t crack with just a few odd hours here and there, which he doesn’t have anyway.

• Newcomen, 10/1/1946: Motor Road Bill is not high enough in the legislative program to have a reasonable chance of passing, so we have a problem: we can’t make orders for Severn Bridge etc. Quoted below.


Mr. Aldington

Motor Roads

Although we are pressing for the early submission of the Motor Road Bill, the prospects of getting it presented to Parliament before the end of the present year are not at all rosy in view of the heavy legislative programme and the demands on the Parliamentary draughtsmen.

If we are going to make adequate progress with the Development Area Schemes such as the new roads associated with the Severn Crossing, the Minister must be in a position to make Orders corresponding to the Section 1(d) Orders for these new roads and until this is done I doubt whether we should be able to proceed with land acquisition.

When the Trunk Road Bill is passed we shall be able to make Orders for new roads which do not involve the supersession of any existing road as a trunk road but it will be difficult to make such Orders in respect of a road which we intend to be a motor road. At the Public Enquiry it would become evident that the rod was designed on the basis of no frontage access (including no agricultural access) and of a drastic limitation of the points of interconnection with the existing road system and I do not at the moment see how we could make an Order for a road which is to be a motor road until the Motor Road Bill is passed.

Nevertheless, the matter is of such importance in relation to the Development Area works that we should I think have a discussion as soon as possible with Mr Tolerton, Mr P Wilson to see whether some procedure cannot be devised by which we can make an Order for a rod which is to be a motor road in advance of the passing of the Motor Road Bill.

I never cease to regret that we did not find ourselves in the position of being able to advise the Minister to accept an amendment which was put down in the Committee stage of the Trunk Road Bill by Mr Peter Thorneycroft (see attached) which would have eased the position.

TG Newcomen

Planning Section 10th January 1946

• The proposed amendment is attached. Reasons for rejecting it is that trunk road motorways really call for separate legislation, where Parliament would have a chance to express itself on the motor road principle.

This file is being abandoned for the time being—the remainder of it contains much correspondence regarding interim measures which could be used to protect the lines of proposed motorways in the event the Motorways bill did not go through (but which would preclude actual construction, land acquisition, and use of POW labor, which had appeal especially in the remote part of Cumbria over Shap), and two draft memoranda in an attempt to convince the Legislation Committee (AKA Lord President’s Council?) that powers to build motorways did not already exist and thus the motorways legislation should be given much higher priority. Perhaps the most important reason is that the RRD 1935, which would have to be used as a default, does not allow prohibition of agricultural access. (This also brings the MOT on thin ice—protecting the line under a 1(2) order meant for AP trunk roads rather than a 1(3) order for motorways involves informing of a proposed trunk roadway, which the public would assume was to be AP, but would in fact be M. The argument that rights were not being removed by making it M would be dependent entirely on the fact that the road had not been constructed so that no actual right of access is taken away, thus meaning that the Newport bypass, Shap road etc. would have to be delayed until Special Roads powers were available.)