HC Deb 19 July 1978 vol 954 cc511-2
3. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has for the early improvement of the A75 Gretna-Stranraer trunk road, with particular reference to a ring road at Dumfries.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Frank McElhone)

A contract has recently been awarded for an improvement at Shennanton, and nine other major schemes are planned for the road in the period up to March 1984. The need for a bypass of Dumfries will be discussed with Dumfries and Galloway regional council following the recent publication of its Dumfries traffic study.

Mr. Monro

Will the Minister come to Dumfries this weekend or next and see for himself the complete traffic chaos in that town, which has earned it the reputation of being the worst bottleneck in Britain? Will he throw the whole weight of the Scottish Office into resolving the problem, following his discussions with the regional council and preparation of plans for the ring road?

Mr. McElhone

I know that the hon. Gentleman understands traffic jams. He and I were involved in them last weekend in places some miles away from Dumfries. Nevertheless, I think that he will accept from me that copies of the study report were received by the Scottish Office only on 21st June last and that we are still awaiting the technical appendices, without which the validity of any discussions or conclusions cannot be assessed.

Mr. Thompson

Is the Minister aware that the Newton Stewart bypass is nearing completion? Is he ready now to start on the construction of the next bypass in line? Which one will it be, and when will it start?

Mr. McElhone

I said in my main answer that nine other major schemes are planned for this road. I understand the difficulties of this road. It is worth pointing out that in these times of so-called difficulty with expenditure we spent £69.9 million on trunk roads and £124.3 million on other roads. That is a fair amount of money by any standards, but I take the hon. Gentleman's point and note the concern that he has expressed.