HC Deb 27 February 1984 vol 55 cc1-2
1. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is satisfied with the level of capital spent on roads by local authorities under their transport supplementary grant programmes.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

In 1982–83 there was £442 million of capital expenditure by local authorities on their roads, in addition to £847 million on maintenance. Although I expect the capital expenditure to exceed £400 million again this year, I wish that it were higher.

Mr. Miller

I thank my right hon. Friend for his efforts when considering transport supplementary grant applications, but will he study the matter a little closely to ensure that the level of capital spending is higher? Will he also reconsider the possibility of restricting TSG to capital expenditure or to specific approved items so that money for capital projects is not spent for revenue purposes?

Mr. Ridley

I assure my hon. Friend that I am considering carefully both the possibilities that he has mentioned, but we have not yet reached a conclusion. We should need to consult if we decided to do what he suggests. I agree with him that it would be nice if local authorities would spend up to their capital allocations, but there is nothing that we can do to make them do that.

Mr. Adley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that speed and weight affect maintenance, which in turn affects the amount of money that local authorities must spend on roads? In the interests of safety and expenditure, will he reconsider his Department's ideas about increasing the speed limits for lorries and other vehicles?

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend will be aware that we have recently published an analysis of the track costs incurred by all types of lorries and other vehicles in relation to their weight, speed, number of axles and so on. From that scientific study, he will discover the precise extra costs that each type of vehicle places on the road repair programme.