HC Deb 19 June 1968 vol 766 cc1097-8
31. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to improve the road and rail links between the industrial areas of the Midlands and South-East and the high-capacity sea container freight service centres such as Harwich with their connections to Europe.

Mr. Carmichael

The trunk road programme and preparation pool contain a large number of schemes designed to improve road communications between the Midlands and South-East and the ports of Harwich, Felixstowe and Tilbury. It is for the British Railways Board to plan rail links and to seek my right hon. Friends approval should major expenditure be involved in any project they may have in mind.

Mr. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend certain that these improvements go far enough? Is he aware that the roads and railways from East Anglia lead to London? Does he not agree that it is virtually impossible to carry freight efficiently from industrial areas like the Midlands and South Bedfordshire to Harwich and the other East Anglian ports?

Mr. Carmichael

It is recognised that there are difficulties in the London conurbation and that railway lines and roads tend to lead to London, but British Railways has forward planning schemes which, we believe, will adequately cater for the expected traffic in containerised freight by sea, and in the roads programme priority is being given to roads serving the docks, particularly the container ports.

Mr. Lane

Will the hon. Gentleman also keep in mind that, in the absence of by-passes, traffic congestion is yearly getting worse in places such as Cambridge? Will he consider putting an East Anglian highway higher up his batting order of desirable trunk improvements?

Mr. Carmichael

As traffic increases, some of our older towns are obviously bound to become more congested, but there are plans for special roads, not by any means to motorway standards, but to good adequate standards, for these ports and we hope that to some extent they will alleviate the present congestion in towns.

Dr. Gray

In view of the introduction of the " roll-on roll-off" service from Great Yarmouth to Scheveningen and the possible introduction of passenger services from Great Yarmouth to Holland, will my hon. Friend look at the whole question of the road network leading to the Midlands the North and the North-East from Great Yarmouth and other East Anglian ports? Is he aware that these are very insufficient for the development foreseen?

Mr. Carmichael

I can assure my hon. Friend that because of the explosion in container traffic and the "roll-on roll-off " service the whole question of the roads to ports is continually being looked at. My hon. Friend can rest assured that the questions he has raised will not be overlooked.