HC Deb 23 January 1980 vol 977 cc418-9
18. Mr. Garel-Jones

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on his policy towards the M25 scheme.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Its completion retains the highest priority in the trunk road programme and is not likely to be delayed by any policy decisions or expenditure constraints.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and for the courteous way in which he received a delegation of councillors from the borough of Watford last week, but will he reassure the people of Watford that both he, and his Department, are opposed to any suggestion that the A41 or the A405 should be upgraded?

Mr. Clarke

I appreciated the discussions that I had with representatives from Watford. We were in complete agreement that the alternative possibility of upgrading the routes through the middle of the urban area of Watford—which would almost certainly necessitate the demolition of houses in order to accommodate the traffic—is regarded as unacceptable. We prefer the M25.

Mr. Jessel

As the section of the M25 between the top of Reigate Hill and the M3 and the M4 would greatly relieve my constituents in Hampton and Hampton Hill who suffer from heavy traffic, can my hon. Friend tell us whether he has received the report of the public inquiry into that section? Will he do everything possible to speed up a decision?

Mr. Clarke

As regards the Leather-head interchange, we have the inspector's report, but we have not yet reached a decision. If my hon. Friend is referring to the section between Leatherhead and Wisley on the A3, some decisions remain to be made on minor variations to the route. However, subject to those variations we expect that, if everything goes well, the section will be opened in 1983.

Mr. Stanbrook

How soon can we get on with the construction of the section of the M25 that runs between Swanley and Sevenoaks?

Mr. Clarke

We are still awaiting the inspector's report about a section of the M25 that is probably more controversial than any other. As soon as I have the inspector's report, we shall begin consideration of it.

Mr. Forman

Is my hon. Friend aware that his first answer is most welcome as thousands of my constituents still feel threatened by the uncertainty surrounding the M23? Is he further aware that the early completion of the M25 will help them considerably?

Mr. Clarke

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I am convinced that large areas of outer London in particular will experience great relief from traffic problems—particularly those caused by heavy lorries—once the M25 is completed.