HC Deb 05 July 1978 vol 953 cc442-3
12. Mr. Rhodes James

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce his promised debate on the White Paper "Policy for Roads: England 1978", Command Paper No. 7132.

32. Mr. Macfarlane

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce his promised debate on the White Paper, "Policy for Roads: England 1978" (Command Paper No. 7132).

Mr. William Rodgers

It is for my right hon. Friend the Lord President to make any such announcement.

Mr. Rhodes James

Is the Secretary of State pressing the Leader of the House frequently for the opportunity to have this debate so that he can devise his own policy and announce it on that occasion?

Mr. Rodgers

The truthful answer is that I am not pressing my right hon. Friend. That is not because I should not like a debate but because there is so much business in July that a debate is unlikely.

Mr. Noble

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need no further debate on the question of the Calder Valley highway? Does he accept that the delay in building this highway is causing serious environmental problems in North-East Lancashire? May we have an assurance that when the present inquiry is completed it will not create a precedent for additional inquiries in the future which will delay the building of the road still further?

Mr. Rodgers

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to confirm that this road is important, as he has emphasised frequently to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and me. We shall move forward with it as soon as possible. But we must recognise that road building has become a more laborious and time-consuming process as more and more people find that they have objections which they wish to make to road schemes in which other people believe.

Mr. Raison

Has the Secretary of State considered the possibility that major decisions on new roads which at present are published in orders by the Secretary of State might be subject to decision by the House of Commons?

Mr. Rodgers

Yes. That is an interesting suggestion. I have thought a good deal about it. My view is that for the moment we should rest upon the proposals in our second White Paper on public inquiries, but I do not exclude such a development, if the House wishes it. However, given the shortage of parliamentary time it might not be universally popular.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Will the Secretary of State's policy for roads include any proposals to turn some roads into trunk roads? I am referring in particular to the Rochester Way, which runs through my constituency in Eltham.

Mr. Rodgers

The hon. Member has raised this question before. Our position on that road remains the same. I am prepared to consider detrunking some roads and bringing others within my responsibilities, depending on the importance of the road and the willingness of the elected local authorities to accept responsibility.