§ 41. Mr. Prior
asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has for improving communications by road from East Angilia to the Midlands, having regard to their inadequacy at the present time, and in view of the growing importance of the ports in that area due to the creation of the European Free Trade Association and the need to attract more industry.
§ Mr. Hay
We have to consider the claims of these roads in relation to needs elsewhere in the country. I am afraid that comprehensive improvement cannot be undertaken at present, but a scheme for a new bridge at St. Neots estimated to cost £690,000 is being prepared. In addition a number of smaller improvements to the total value of about £500,000 are under construction or are to start shortly.
§ Mr. Prior
Is my hon. Friend aware that people living in East Anglia feel that they are not getting a fair share of the money which is being spent on road improvements, that our rail communications are shocking and that our unemployment position leaves much to be desired? Will he try to do something to help us so that more employment can be brought into the area?
§ Mr. Hay
It is a false conception to imagine that individual areas of the country should obtain a fair share of the money available for road improvements. We have, as I said in answer to an earlier Question, had to establish a system of priorities based upon traffic needs and not upon geographical location. We have no doubt at all that the roads of East 1272 Anglia are the least heavily trafficked of any in the country, and, therefore, their priority is, I am afraid, at the moment correspondingly less; but we will do what we can as and when we can.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
Is my hon. Friend aware that if he compares the London—Colchester—.North-East Essex road with the roads to the South Coast, there is something to be said for giving priority to the area so that we can make proper use of the port facilities of Harwich?