HC Deb 28 July 1965 vol 717 cc442-4
12. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Minister of Transport what consideration has been given to providing motorway links between the main ports and the present basic motorway network; and what proposals he has made.

Mr. Tom Fraser

When the first 1,000 miles of motorway are completed, road access to almost all major ports will be greatly improved. Whether the connection with the main motorway network should itself be a motorway or an all-purpose road has to be decided in the light of local conditions. Possible further improvements will be included in my studies of the longer-term development of inter-urban routes.

Mr. Johnston

Is the Minister aware that it is gratifying to know that he regards this problem as one of such urgency? Will he conult his colleagues at the Board of Trade in view of the fact that a lack of linkage between the main productive areas and the ports is in many cases harmful to the export trade?

Mr. Fraser

This is one of the aspects of road development to which I am giving the closest possible consideration. I think it essential that access to the ports should be speeded up.

Mr. Strauss

Can my right hon. Friend say what steps he is taking to carry out the promise given yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that urgent action was to be taken to improve access to the ports?

Mr. Fraser

My right hon. Friend asks what action I am taking in furtherance of a statement made only yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I can only say that in considering any adjustment of the road programme over the past months I have been giving the utmost attention to bringing forward, if possible, those roadworks which are essential for improving access to the ports.

Mr. Powell

Is it not evident from the Minister's reply that he was taken completely by surprise by what the Chancellor said yesterday, and that he has no idea what is meant by the reference to access to the ports?

Mr. Fraser

The right hon. Gentleman himself does not believe the accusation that he has just made. I was not taken by surprise. My right hon. Friend in his statement yesterday picked up capital projects in the ports, including access to the ports, as being projects which would be given preferential treatment in the allocation of resources in the six months' period to which he said his statement applied.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend realise what a surprise the right hon. Gentleman had yesterday?

Mr. Powell

Do we understand that there are certain projects relating to the access to ports to which the six months' period of delay is not to apply, and when will the Minister be able to say what these projects are?

Mr. Fraser

My right hon. Friend in his statement yesterday did not say that there would be an absolute ban on starts on all road projects. He indicated that there would have to be a reduction in starts if we were to make the best use of our resources in the period immediately ahead, and he went on to call attention to the priority that would be given to ports and to the access to ports. I would have thought that that was a statement of policy which would have been welcomed on both sides of the House.

Captain Litchfield

Would not the Minister be well advised to give all possible incentives to get long-distance traffic to the ports off the roads and on to the railways? Could not there be stricter control in this regard so far as the nationalised industries are concerned?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, Sir. I have been giving a lot of attention to this. I have had consultations with the Railways Board, which is engaged in improving the services which it is able to give to manufacturers in this country so that we might use the railways a little more to get goods quickly to the ports.

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