HC Deb 28 January 1981 vol 997 cc919-20
15. Mr. Fry

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether the decision to site cruise missiles at Molesworth was a factor in the selection of the route proposed for the A1-M1 link.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

No, Sir. I had confirmed the route before that decision was taken.

Mr. Fry

Although I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer, which clears up the point raised in The Observer, may I ask whether he can explain why there has not been greater progress on the less controversial part of the route? I refer particularly to the route to the east of Kettering and to the new bridge at Thrapston. Is he aware that faster progress could be made on this route, which is vital to the economy of the country?

Mr. Clarke

I agree that it is a vital route. We hope to publish the statutory orders in the near future. We shall then proceed to the inevitable public inquiry. There is some pressure to begin with the eastern section of the road, but the western section—which we intend to do first—is extremely important. It will provide the quickest help to Corby and will also provide a bypass for Kettering.

Mr. Weetch

Is the Under-Secretary aware that the A1-M1 link is of crucial importance to East Anglia? Despite all the difficulties, will he give that link high priority as it will facilitate the smooth flow of traffic from the industrial Midlands to the Haven ports?

Mr. Clarke

I can say "Yes" to both of those questions. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

As this subject has been under discussion for so long, will my hon. and learned Friend assure me that the road will have been started by the time that I leave Parliament, even if I stand at the next general election? Quite honestly, I should think that the cruise missile will be out of date by the time the road is finished.

Mr. Clarke

The map of England is littered with road schemes that have been held up for years and years, and that have been promised but never completed. In the past 18 months, we have devoted ourselves to trying to get on with the routes that everybody agrees are necessary. I hope that the road will be built by 1986. I am sure that my hon. Friend will still be here then. We might even have some nevers for him on the Stamford bypass soon. One never knows how lucky he might be.

Mr. Cryer

Is it not true that cruise missile sites will require new roads of considerable magnitude, because the launchers are so massive? Will not that involve a hidden additional cost? How do the Government propose to keep these new roads hidden from the Russians so that they do not know where the missiles are?

Mr. Clarke

We could contemplate issuing out of date maps. However, we try to keep our maps up to date. Like other important traffic, cruise missiles need roads. The piece of road required for the cruise missiles, like the bypass round Spaldwick, is very much needed by the inhabitants of the villages involved. Indeed, the inhabitants of Spaldwick are using cruise missiles as an argument to urge us to speed up the provision of their road.

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