HC Deb 21 January 1974 vol 867 cc1176-8
3. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what effect the recently announced cuts in Government expenditure will have on the road-building programme in North Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

The start of work on some trunk road projects may have to be deferred. Local highway authorities are considering the measures necessary to achieve the required reduction in expenditure on other roads.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there is real anxiety in North Wales that the already inadequate trunk road programme may be further set back as a result of the cuts in Government expenditure? Will he fight like a tiger for its young to protect this ailing programme?

Mr. Thomas

My hon. Friend will appreciate that we in Wales will have to take our fair share of the cuts which are proposed. The cuts proposed for Wales are only a fair share of the total cuts. We are not being asked to take any more cuts beyond that. I assure my hon. Friend that by regulating the starting dates on schemes I shall seek to give the highest priority I can to the A55 improvement.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be a little more specific? Does the reduction in public expenditure announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer mean that grants towards roads in North Wales and elsewhere will be down by 10 per cent. in 1974–75? The Secretary of State has accepted that the A55 in North Wales is very important. How will the improvements to the A55 and the bypass on both sides of the proposed new road span over the Menai Bridge be affected?

Mr. Thomas

It is too early to say precisely which schemes will be affected, but certain schemes will clearly have to be deferred.

Mr. Hughes

What about the 10 per cent. reduction?

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Will the Secretary of State take note of the exceptional needs of Cardiganshire? Does he appreciate that the amount spent per mile on trunk and principal roads in Cardiganshire is very much below the average for the adjoining counties? Will he pay particular attention to the contribution which road improvements can make to strengthening the county's economy?

Mr. Thomas

I agree that these matters are important for Cardiganshire, in the same way that road works are important for most parts of Wales. Local authorities will take these matters into account in assessing priorities.

Mr. Barry Jones

In this context, can the Secretary of State indicate when he expects to make a statement on the [...]forces in Wales with reference to road works, particularly the Queen [...]roundabout and the Ha warden bypass?

Mr. Thomas

I hope to make an announcement on the task force very soon. Many matters have to be considered afresh in relation to the task force and these matters will be considered as early as possible.

Mr. Hughes

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of those replies, I beg leave to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment.