HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 cc447-8
14. Mr. Robin F. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish his White Paper on roads.

Mr. William Rodgers

Shortly, I hope.

Mr. Cook

Will the Secretary of State accept that his recognition of the need for greater public information on roads expenditure is welcome? Is he aware that it will be even more welcome if, in his forthcoming White Paper, he commits himself to both "before" and "after" studies of road construction tests, so that we may know whether the traffic flow forecasts for these roads justify their construction under the Leitch criteria? There has been a tendency in the past to over-predict traffic flows.

Mr. Rodgers

I agree with my hon. Friend. Once the roads are constructed, it is right to try to assess in retrospect whether the decision was wisely made, although some may say that we cannot do much about it then. I am anxious to have the best possible information on which to make these difficult decisions. My hon. Friends must realise that they are difficult decisions and that some are bound to be controversial.

Mr. Crawford

Will the Secretary of State give the go-ahead for making the whole of the A74 between Glasgow and Carlisle a motorway? How many more lives have to be lost before that is done?

Mr. Rodgers

I cannot tell the hon. Member that today.

Mr. Skinner

Will the Secretary of State tell us whether his forthcoming White Paper will examine the ways in which the transport supplementary grant can be spent? In Derbyshire the Tory-controlled council is refusing to spend the money available and this is resulting in anomalies in my constituency. Is it possible for the parish councils to spend money on the bussing of school children, as in Hilcote, in my constituency?

Mr. Rodgers

The White Paper on roads will not go that wide. However, my hon. Friend makes an important point, which has a bearing on the transport supplementary grant in the next financial year. We are discussing this in the Transport Bill Committee.

Mr. Fell

As the Government are determined to stay in the Common Market, will the Secretary of State bear in mind that all the East Coast ports could do with better roads to them? This would help our links with Europe.

Mr. Rodgers

We have already made clear that we recognise that priorities have changed, and my major priority is good east-west links. This means that the East Anglian and the East Coast ports generally should have good roads.