HC Deb 10 March 1982 vol 19 cc839-40
17. Mr. Roy Hughes

Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of trunk road are under construction; and how this compares with the figure 12 months ago.

Mrs. Chalker

A total of 169 miles of trunk road are now under construction in England compared with 143 miles 12 months ago.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister agree that the Government have no moral right to introduce heavier lorries on to our roads, particularly when insufficient impetus has been given to the provision of new trunk road schemes? Does she also agree that a crash programme would be invaluable in this respect, because it would not only improve the environment but have a beneficial effect in that it would put some people back to work?

Mrs. Chalker

In no way will I condone the present situation on heavy lorries. The hon. Gentleman should await the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. However, I remind him that we are spending 15 per cent. more in this financial year than we did in the previous one. We want to improve the existing system as rapidly as possible.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Has my hon. Friend's Department received any representations from private contractors or private consortiums about the construction of trunk roads from private funds initially, with the co-operation of the Department of Transport, as have been received by the Department in respect of motorways?

Mrs. Chalker

Yes, we have received representations, and we are studying them sympathetically.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Will the hon. Lady take the opportunity to improve these deplorable figures by making an immediate start on the city of Newcastle upon Tyne's western bypass?

Mrs. Chalker

I shall take a special interest in the western bypass, together with all the others that have been brought to my attention in the last three days.

Mr. Waller

Does my hon. Friend find it curious that the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Hughes) should put the question on lorries in the way that he did when it is clear that the increase in mileage on trunk roads, to which the Government have committed themselves, shows that they are determined to solve the problem of heavy lorries?

Mrs. Chalker

Yes, it is slightly curious, because the Government are continuing the programme of repairs as the older motorways reach the end of their lives and of renewing about 50 miles of motorway a year. We are doing all that we can, and we are examining all the necessary improvements to be made in the corning years.

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