HC Deb 10 February 1982 vol 17 cc962-3
8. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress towards bypassing all historic towns.

Mr. David Howell

Over half of the historic towns on trunk roads which could benefit from a bypass now have one, and schemes are planned for almost all the rest. In my review of the trunk road programme, which will be published next week, I am giving priority to the need to make room for a number of other urgent bypasses. As for local roads, I gave priority to bypasses in the recent transport supplementary grant allocation and I intend to continue doing so.

Mr. Farr

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Before he produces the report next week, will he look at the sums again to see whether a marked advance in the bypass programme should take place, especially in view of the Armitage report and its implications for historic towns and the environment?

Mr. Howell

The bypass scheme is now very large. The traffic and local schemes now under construction will relieve about 100 towns and villages, with another 120 benefiting from schemes starting in the next two years. I am considering whether the programme can be speeded up.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Does that include the northern part of the bypass round York, which is subject to the TSG allocation?

Mr. Howell

I shall have to write to the hon. Gentleman about that matter.

Mr. Heddle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it was Sir Robert Peel's manifesto that made Tamworth historic? In the light of his inspector's inability and utter failure to deliver his report on the Tamworth section of the M42 following a public inquiry two years ago, does my right hon. Friend agree that this is now the Tamworth fiasco? Will he obtain an undertaking from the inspector that his Department will receive his report by 31 March?

Mr. Howell

I am as concerned as my hon. Friend about the delay. We will do everything possible to expedite the matter.

Mr. Bagier

When are the bypass schemes that the Secretary of State has just announced estimated to finish? Until they are finished, will he delay the introduction of heavier lorries on British roads?

Mr. Howell

I announced a programme of bypasses. I said that 120 communities would benefit from schemes starting in the next two years. A total of 150 bypasses are included in the trunk road programme. It is a rolling and continuing programme. Many communities and villages will be relieved as motorways are completed. It is necessary to deal with the whole of freight transportation, including freight by rail. At the moment there are difficulties with such transport. It is necessary to treat all those factors as a whole. They must advance together on all fronts.

Sir Albert Costain

Has my right hon. Friend observed that those who are opposing his proposals for heavier lorries are showing photographs of a large TIR lorry passing a church with its spire on the ground in Brookland in my constituency? Does he appreciate that I have been pressing him for a number of years for a bypass to avoid that bad corner? The photograph hints that lorries have knocked the spire off the church. That is not true. Will my right hon. Friend press on with the bypass for Brookland?

Mr. Howell

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing to my attention the locality of the photograph to which he refers. I shall investigate further the point that he raised. I have said enough about the general bypass programme to show the House that it is substantial. I am looking at it to see whether it can be speeded up even more.