HC Deb 14 November 1983 vol 48 c595
6. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is satisfied with the extent and state of the trunk road and motorway network in the west midlands.

Mrs. Chalker

The extensive programme of new road building, improvements and maintenance projects now under way and planned will bring significant improvements to the motorway and trunk road network in the region.

Mr. Miller

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her promotion. Does she realise that the state of the motorway network in the west midlands and overloading on such routes, combined with a lack of communications to the ports for our exporting industries, leads to serious anxiety about slippage in the programme that she announced and calls into question the Government's commitment to provide west midlands' industry with satisfactory means of communication for its products?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand my hon. Friend's anxieties. I am happy to report that real progress is being made. The schemes currently under construction are costing an estimated £116 million, and contracts to the value of a further £144 million are due to start before the end of next year. I note my hon. Friend's comment about the link to the east coast ports. As he knows, the Government are considering the final version of that scheme.

Mr. Golding

However polite and courteous the leadership of the Staffordshire county council is to the Minister, it is thoroughly dissatisfied with the provision for roads in the county.

Mrs. Chalker

Most of the members of the Staffordshire county council whom I have had the pleasure of meeting have been extremely realistic about what can be done within sensible cash limits. We have been discussing programmes for the future on those terms. I know full well that everybody wishes to do more than he is doing, but there is a limit to the amount that any responsible Government can undertake.

Sir Dudley Smith

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that when the M40 is built in the midlands it will be to such a standard that my constituents and others will not be subjected in a decade's time to the horrendous diversions and stoppages that are occurring on the M1?

Mrs. Chalker

I assure my hon. Friend that the standard of materials and the manner of building new motorways are much better than they were when motorways were being planned and built 30 years ago. When roads are built with a life of 20 years, it is not surprising that we have to put on new skid-resistant surfaces after that time, as well as doing more work to make them last another 20 years, as is happening on the M1.