HC Deb 24 November 1975 vol 901 cc469-70
10. Mr Roderick

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how much is being spent on the road programme in Wales in the current year; and what is the estimated expenditure for next year.

Mr Barry Jones

The Vote provision for the construction and improvement of trunk roads in 1975–76 is £40.6 million. I cannot yet forecast what will be spent in 1976–77.

Mr. Roderick

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Powys there is a proposal to reduce the work force in the roads department by 20 per cent in the coming year? Will he speak to our right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell him of the feeling in the area that it is totally wasteful to pay unemployment benefit to men when such moneys might be more usefully employed by the local authority to retain this work force?

Mr. Barry Jones

I shall speak to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I appreciate the deep feeling and concern that my hon. Friend has expressed about unemployment in his constituency, but it would be wrong of me to say that in this context I can raise his hopes in any way at all.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Does the Minister hope to make any progress with the Carmarthen bypass and the dual carriageway extension to the M4 in the coming financial year?

Mr. Barry Jones

I cannot give an answer immediately. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that it is not only the direct unemployment created by cuts in road expenditure but the lost opportunities as a result of inadequate roads—particularly in areas such as Gwynedd—that cause concern? Will he confirm that the Welsh Office will give the highest priority to the construction of a dual carriageway as far as Bangor and Holyhead and to link through to Caernarvon?

Mr. Barry Jones

I can confirm that latter point. The A55 will have top priority when my right hon. and learned Friend's programme for the M4 is complete. I thoroughly take into account what the hon. Member has said about jobs. I hope that he will agree that in a previous answer I showed the Government's concern for that area.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Will my hon. Friend also confirm that the important work on the roads planned over the Britannia Bridge and the two bypasses will continue?

Mr. Barry Jones

I can confirm that the Britannia Bridge improvement will be going ahead almost immediately. As to the details of the other scheme my right hon. Friend mentioned, I think I must write to him.

Sir A. Meyer

Will the Minister give an assurance that resources will be concentrated on top priority schemes and not frittered away on secondary schemes which, at a time like this, could be set aside? In particular, has he any comment on proposals for a North Wales expressway running along the A541, through country where nobody wants a new road?

Mr Barry Jones

I should like notice of some of those questions. I will answer generally and say that the Welsh Office is noted for getting its priorities right.

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