HC Deb 18 July 1979 vol 970 cc1769-70
17. Mr. Knox

asked the Minister of Transport when the next White Paper on roads will be published.

Mr. Fowler

We shall do so as soon as possible after the conclusion of current discussions on our public expenditure programme for the next few years. In the meantime, however, I will place in the Library copies of a statement of my policy on trunk roads. This will provide general guidance against which current decisions can be taken, and will be used as the formal statement of policy at inquiries into the route of proposed new or improved trunk roads.

Mr. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, however justified public expenditure cuts are in some areas, there is no case for further cuts in the road programme in view of the savage cuts made in recent years? Can he confirm that roads in Britain are more crowded than those of our international competitors, which argues for a bigger rather than a smaller road building programme?

Mr. Fowler

I do not agree with either of the points made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Snape

Did the Minister see the report in The Guardian this morning referring to the GLC's desire to circumvent the existing road building safeguards? Will he tell Sir Horace Cutler and his cronies at County Hall that we spent a long time having those safeguards built into the existing procedure and we do not want to see our democratic procedures undermined for the benefit of the road-building lobby?

Mr. Fowler

Obviously, Sir Horace Cutler will hear what the hon. Gentleman has said on this matter. The procedure by which the GLC introduces a Private Bill is not a matter for the Government.

Mr. Jessel

What priority will my right hon. Friend give to the completion of the M25 circular motorway around London?

Mr. Fowler

The M25 will continue to be the first priority of the road building programme.

Mr. Skinner

Will the Minister's statement include a section about those people who operate vital services, such as district nurses? Is the Minister aware that district nurses receive an allowance of only 8.4p per mile? Although it is not a matter for him, will the right hon. Gentleman ask his colleague to raise this allowance—and sharp? There are some nurses listening.

Mr. Fowler

I am sure that the nurses whom the hon. Gentleman says are listening will not misunderstand me if I say that this matter in no way arises out of my White Paper on roads.