39. Mr. Vane
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will give an assurance that the far-reaching plan of building a new road up the Lune Valley, and damaging some of the best food-producing land from more than 100 farms, has now been dropped.
The proposal has not been dropped, but when the statutory draft scheme is published, which I hope will be in the course of this year, there will be ample opportunity for consideration of any representations, if necessary at 837 a public inquiry. Any interference with agriculture will certainly be reduced to a minimum.
Is there any reason to publish this draft scheme at all? It is planned on the most unnecessarily extravagant use of agricultural land, and, in addition, as long as the proposal remains alive it is very discouraging to the farmers all along this line who have just been asked to increase their production?
My hon. Friend may not be aware that the line of the proposed road has been agreed after consultation between my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Housing and Local Government. It has already been amended to avoid some of the better agricultural land. A lot of the road is over fell country which is of no value except for grazing purposes.
Will my hon. Friend look into this question again, in spite of the agreement to which he refers? Will he not see whether he cannot improve the existing road at a figure of £150,000 or so and no loss of good agricultural land, instead of this absurdly extravagant project involving millions?
Mr. J. T. Price
Does the Minister not agree that the project to build an alternative road via the Lune Valley is ultimately for strategic reasons, because if the A.6 road to Scotland were blocked at either Preston or Lancaster there would be no alternative road available to the North? This project is to meet that difficulty.
Certainly the road is desirable, but we are anxious to interfere as little is possible with agriculture.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Is my hon. Friend aware that successive Ministers have said that the needs of agriculture would be fully considered, but that the result has been that 50,000 acres per year of good agricultural land have "gone west" for a large number of years?