National Archives 2012-02-16

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Arrived at National Archives about 12.20 PM (had another fairly late start from Oxford, but a very short wait at Paddington for the Hammersmith and City Tube). Camera is judged unlikely to last long even with freshly recharged batteries. A new battery charger and four high-performance batteries have been ordered, but have not yet arrived, so today will be another intensive day of document review. However, an attempt will be made to clear bulky files so these do not have to be supplied again another day.

T 228/555

This file is important and deserves to be photographed in its entirety. Although there is some dreck at the front dealing with an essentially short-term problem--the Ministry's demand (made through the Economic Policy Committee, to the discomfort of Treasury officials) for a supplemental estimate to reflect the fact that the Chancellor had allocated less money for maintenance than the Ministry believed necessary--there is a lengthy paper by Leathers, framed as a response to a motion by Lord Elgin (check HL Debates), dealing with the case for and against increased road spending which illustrates some of the problems ministers and senior officials had getting their heads around the possibility that surpluses might accrue from an enhanced level of road investment. (Part of the trouble was a tendency to self-congratulate: "Foreigners tell us Britain has good roads," omitting to remember that quality of pavement construction should not be confused with network extent or traffic service provided.) Plus there are a couple of Treasury papers examining the economic case for expanded road investment which illustrate the skepticism with which estimates of operating savings were viewed.

T 228/556

This file deals with insurance of nuclear risks. It is suspected that the file reference is a typo from Scott's paper, since there is nothing in this file dealing with roads and road investment.

T 228/560

This file in a sense continues the debate over the size of the road programme which is evident in T 228/555. Covering dates are from around 1955. There are memoranda setting forth the case for and against tolls as a financing mechanism, and considering the possibility of a National Highways Authority. There is a lengthy memorandum (with charts) describing the size and scope of the then current Road Programme. Finally, a lengthy memorandum by the Minister of Transport lays out the case for a greatly enhanced level of capital investment in roads, bringing out international comparisons and making the point that even recent increases in funding will not be enough to clear identified needs. This file is thoroughly photographable.

T 228/562

This file covers late 1956/early 1957 and concerns the attempts by Harold Watkinson to persuade first Harold Macmillan and then Peter Thorneycroft (in their then capacities as Chancellor of the Exchequer) to agree to substantial increases in the size of the road programme. The figure initially talked about was £45 million, with the Minister pressing the Treasury for an increase to £60 million. The documents submitted by the Minister to make the case, including listings of roads and schemes considered particularly useful to industry, and a memorandum toward the end arguing that in fact the £60 million figure was inadequate, with the RRL putting forward a minimum figure of £155 million and suggesting the true figure could be three times higher, are of interest. The file as a whole is generally photographable, but less spectacularly so than T 228/555 and T 228/560.

MT 95/900

This file is a re-run. Partially photographed already.

MT 95/1001

This file refers to the M3 London-Basingstoke and has the grand title "Design: Contract documents and plans." It does contain plans (two large sheets) and a bill of quantities, but only for the soil survey. This file is worthless dreck.

MT 45/22

This file is worth photographing (and short). It has "Office Notices" (essentially organigrams; various editions) identifying which civil servants were in charge of particular departmental functions. It also contains a negotiation with the Treasury for additional staff incident on Restriction of Ribbon Development Act and Trunk Roads Act (in the latter case, the Ministry anticipated greater staffing needs in connection with land acquisition for trunk roads).

T 230/366

This file is highly photographable. It contains a number of papers which attempt to assess the benefits to the economy of investment in roads or, alternatively, the cost to the economy of inadequate road transport. It contains observations on the size of the road programme, including the insight that the program needs to be matched to capacity in order to avoid inflation. Some of the content is duplicative of T 228 files, including memoranda discussing £60 million as the proposed ceiling size for the road programme.

T 230/352

This file deals with the Treasury's long-term survey of transport requirements. As such, it is multimodal and has a great deal on issues like railway modernization and coastwise shipping as well as the roads. It includes some carbons (from documents on other files) dealing with the late-1950's dispute over the size of the road programme. This file is photographable only in part, the part to be regarded as a good candidate for photographing consisting mainly of the road-related papers.

T 230/351

This file is an earlier part of the one previously described. Same provisos regarding scope and photographability apply.

MT 49/151

This file (from the Geddes papers) is part of a subseries dealing with Maybury's committee on taxationa and regulation of road vehicles. It focuses specifically on several interrelated questions, which were discussed in 1919-1920. First, should taxation of vehicles be based on petrol; second, did hypothecation still hold good (Geddes asked for extracts from the debate pro and con in 1909, when the doctrine was first introduced, and Chamberlain--as Chancellor of the Exchequer--ultimately agreed on the basis that administration and collection expenses related to roads would also be paid from the Road Fund and no further supplemental funding demands would be made). The file is photographable but not a high priority except insofar as some papers it contains demonstrate (albeit indirectly) how the diversification of propulsion technologies and fuels during World War I undermined arguments for taxation based on fuel. It includes interim reports of the taxation and regulation committee. It was originally tagged but the tags fell apart.

MT 39/505

This very thin file (of doubtful photographability--see following) deals with various issues in connection with drafting a general Memorandum on Highway Policy for presentation to the Reconstruction Problems Committee. Most of the memoranda have to do with the Forth Road Bridge, but there are a few minutes dealing with highway improvements in London. These low-level issues were overtaken by the eventual delay in implementing the proposed improvements, so it would be more important and valuable to have the finished version of the actual memorandum as sent to Reconstruction Problems Cttee, which is presumably on a CAB series file. This file does have a plan showing motorways and selected major road improvements as proposed by Lyddon on 16 December 1944, but otherwise there is no compelling reason to keep it available for photography.

MT 39/506

This is an important file setting forth the structure and detail of the post-war programme Labour planned for the roads, including motorways, and has some papers of CAB and T origin indicating the reactions this plan generated. It does not tell the complete story of the starvation of capital investment after the war (really can't--covering dates are only 1945 to about 1947), but is worth photographing. It is however thick, full of foxed carbons, and the elite typestyle suggests the work of Ministry copy-typists. Priority for photography probably best qualified as high medium.