HC Deb 24 February 1970 vol 796 cc965-7
13. Mr. Wiggin

asked the Minister of Transport what factors his Department takes into consideration when approving contracts for the supply of materials for the construction of the M5 motorway in Somerset.

Mr. Bob Brown

Under the terms of the contracts, the source and supply of materials is the sole responsibility of the contractors concerned.

Mr. Wiggin

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend should take responsibility for a contract carrying 30,000 tons of stone a week more than 20 miles over unsuitable roads when there is a more suitable source near the proposed motorway? Will he look at the matter again?

Mr. Brown

It is not my right hon. Friend's responsibility to dictate to contractors. That would not ensure that all the material required was suitable or obtainable at the most advantageous price. The taxpayer would be at substantial risk financially on both counts.

Mr. Ellis

Will my hon. Friend resign himself to the fact that whichever way the rockpile crumbles, he will be clobbered? Over the years, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Press and everyone in the area have said that we must have these spine roads. Now that they have to go through theses areas, we shall hear these protests all the way down the peninsula.

Mr. Brown

Having got used to being clobbered, I accept what my hon. Friend says.

18. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Transport how many route miles of motorway completed between 1st January, 1965, and 1st January, 1970, were planned and programmed before 15th October, 1964; and how many route miles completed before 1st January, 1970, were planned and programmed after 15th October, 1964.

Mr. Mulley

281, Sir. Since October, 1964, preparation has been set in hand on about 300 additional miles of motorway, but none of these has yet been completed.

Mr. Mills

Does not that show that the Government have relied heavily on what the Conservative Government planned and did in the past? Is not the present Government's record a very poor one? Will the Minister redouble his efforts, as motorways are vital for the country's future prosperity?

Mr. Mulley

There is widespread agreement that a period of about seven years is required from the first feasibility study to the completion of an engineering project of a motorway, with all the statutory procedures that are involved. It is true that the Conservative Government drew a great many lines on the map. Our contribution has been to produce the money to build the roads, and as a result twice as much is being spent today as was spent in 1963–64.

Mr. Orme

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, while the Government have kept their road programme, there are other priorities within our society which need tackling, such as housing and other matters involving social expenditure? Have not the Government to balance those against motorway extensions?

Mr. Mulley

The question of priorities is the constant concern of everyone in the Government.

21. Mr. Michael Heseltine

asked the Minister of Transport what is the total route mileage and the approximate value of inter-urban motorways now in the planning and land acquisition stages which are intended for completion after 1972.

Mr. Mulley

About 413 miles at an approximate value of £520 million. Others will be announced in due course.

Mr. Heseltine

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the present availability of only 413 miles for completion after 1972 is not enough to maintain the level of motorway building that will be required?

Mr. Mulley

The hon. Member knows that this is a constant process and, as the preparatory work is done, we transfer schemes from the preparation pool into the firm programme. I would expect in the near future to make substantial additions to the numbers already in the pool.