§ 34. Sir R. Russell
asked the Minister of Transport what was the estimated cost of the programme for building motorways and other roads in the South-Eastern Region in 1968; and how much was actually spent in that year.
Mr. Bob Brown
Central Government expenditure on new and improved motorways and other roads in the South-Eastern Economic Planning Region in 1968–69 was estimated at just over £50 million, excluding land costs; about £46 million was actually spent. Data for spending by local authorities in the region is not yet available.
§ Sir R. Russell
Can the Minister say why there is a shortfall of £4 million? What steps are being taken to see that the programme is kept up?
The shortfall of £4 million was caused mainly by delay in statutory procedures in connection with the two radial motorways M3 and M23. As to future shortfalls, we shall certainly aim to see that we keep to the programme as forecast but, as I have said, public interest and individual rights come into this.
§ Mr. Molloy
Is my hon. Friend aware that if he endeavours to meet the wishes of many hon. Members opposite in building new roads and so on and so forth, he will then be attacked from the Front Bench opposite for incurring public expenditure?
§ Mrs. Thatcher
The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the programme "as forecast". Will he say which programme? Is he not aware that his Ministry has recently published a document delaying for periods of up to two years the start of a large number of major projects? To which forecast did he refer?
I should be interested if the hon. Lady could enlighten me as to the document concerned. London highways now come under my general purview in the Ministry, but I am not aware of the document she mentioned.