HC Deb 06 November 1978 vol 957 cc480-1
4. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the effect on Wales of repair work on the Severn bridge; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Barry Jones

My right hon. and learned Friend has received several representations about the current maintenance works on the Severn bridge. The House can be assured that I am watching the situation closely with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, who is, of course, responsible for the bridge itself. It is estimated that the work will take about two months to complete. Thereafter the temporary lane restrictions will be removed. Nevertheless, I well understand the concern felt in South Wales.

Mr. Edwards

I am glad that the Under-Secretary understands the concern and the anger over the almost intolerable delays that are being caused to traffic crossing the bridge. Why were the faults not discovered and dealt with during the period of closure last year? Why is the work not proceeding round the clock now? What is being done to ensure that a similar disastrous episode does not recur in the future?

Mr. Barry Jones

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport might be a more appropriate recipient of the hon. Member's first question. My right hon. Friend and I greatly regret the inconvenience caused to the private motorist and to industry and commerce, especially at peak periods. A special effort is being made to speed up the work, and this includes overtime and shift working where appropriate. The work is at present on schedule and I hope that these delays will not be long with us.

The hon. Member asked about putting right the defective work. The main work in this respect is being carried out off-site in Newport. The hon. Member also asked about getting a speedy conclusion to this difficult problem. However, this sort of work requires highly skilled labour, and that is difficult to come by.

Mr. loan Evans

Has my hon. Friend considered the effect upon the bridge of heavy lorries? If, when the lanes are open, there is to be some restriction, would it not be better if private motorists were allowed to use the bridge and for some of the heavy traffic to be diverted to another route or perhaps on to the railways?

Mr. Barry Jones

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion. I can raise it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.