HC Deb 16 November 1977 vol 939 cc567-8
19. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce the route of the M40.

Mr. Horam

I am very conscious of the hon. Member's understandable concern about this, and I assure him that we shall reach a decision as soon as we possibly can.

Mr. Marten

Is the Minister aware that the high number of purely local Questions on the Order Paper, which are boring to those not involved, amounts to a criticism of his Department and its procrastinating attitude towards the development of road systems? Does he recall how many times he has told me that we shall hear very shortly about the route of the M40? Today he has not even said "very shortly". Is he aware that real trouble is caused in respect of such of my constituents as farmers who can make no firm plans and households that are being blighted? Does he realise that industrial development in Banbury cannot go ahead until he has let us know? Will he please do something and let us know quickly?

Mr. Horam

I am conscious of the danger of saying "very shortly". That is why I did not repeat it today. However, I am aware of the number of times that the hon. Gentleman has received that answer, indicating that a reply would be coming fairly soon, and am also aware that a reply has not yet appeared. I am conscious of the genuine problems of blight and other difficulties in his and adjacent areas that have been caused by our taking time over the decision. The matter is high in our consideration, and the hon. Gentleman can rest assured that we shall give it priority.

Mr. Jay

Before the Minister commits himself to an extravagant extension of the M40, will he study the Leach Committee's report on traffic forecasting? When will it be published? Will it be shortly?

Mr. Horam

We have only just received it. It will take a little time to consider, but will be published as soon as possible.

Mr. Hal Miller

As the M42 Bromsgrove section is to be renamed the M40, will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that its construction will not proceed in advance of the construction of the rest of the M40?

Mr. Horam

Our plans remain as we have stated. There is no change.