HC Deb 07 June 1978 vol 951 cc187-9
19. Mr. MacKay

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress in implementing the White Paper, "Policy for Roads: England 1978" (Command Paper No. 7132).

Mr. William Rodgers

It is early days to add significantly to what the White Paper said.

Mr. MacKay

Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be a good idea to have a debate as soon as possible on the White Paper, because many hon. Members on both sides are worried about the state of our roads? We appreciate that limited funds are available for extra maintenance, but we would like to discuss the allocations of those funds.

Mr. Rodgers

I should certainly be happy to have a debate on that subject. I think that it would be a very good idea.

Mr. Jessel

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the urgent need to complete the M25 motorway in outer London, to which he referred in the White Paper? Is he aware that in parts of outer London, such as Hampton, there is intolerable congestion which cannot be relieved until this new orbital road is completed? What is he doing to speed matters?

Mr. Rodgers

I think that there is wide agreement that the M25 should stand at the top of priorities for new roads. Good progress is being made, but the planning procedures are very long. That is inevitable, given the need to consult widely and to give everyone a fair opportunity to raise doubts.

Mr. Fernyhough

Given the demands which have come from the Opposition this afternoon for increases in public expenditure, at the end of Question Time will my right hon. Friend get one of his colleagues to calculate how much increased public expenditure has been demanded and then send me a letter giving the amount?

Mr. Rodgers

I should be happy to help my right hon. Friend in the way that he suggests, but it might be an unfruitful use of Civil Service time. I think that it is apparent to all hon. Members, at least on the Government side, that there are great contradictions on the Opposition Benches between the cuts in public expenditure for which they ask part of the time and the increases which they put forward for the rest.

Mr. Fry

Does the Secretary of State agree that expenditure on road maintenance could save lives whereas spending money on school milk does not necessarily save anybody's life.

Mr. Rodgers

I think that the hon. Gentleman should have thought twice about that. Apart from the totally unproven assumption that there is neglect of maintenance which has led to dangers in terms of road safety, I should think that many right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches believe that school milk is important and relevant to the health of the nation.

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