HC Deb 16 January 1984 vol 52 c9
8. Mr. Robert B. Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will increase the level of expenditure on the trunk road and motorway programme.

Mr. Ridley

I have already done so. Planned expenditure in 1984–85 will be £805 million, a 13 per cent. increase over 1983–84, which is approximately 6 per cent. in real terms.

Mr. Jones

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many industrialists take the view that this is one form of public expenditure which might reduce industrial costs and thus aid the recovery? How many schemes are proposed for next year, and what is their value and the mileage involved?

Mr. Ridley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The figures also represent a switch from current spending to capital spending, which we have often been urged to undertake. Next year there will be an increase over 1983–84 of 17 per cent. in the spend on the road programme, and in 1986–87, of 22 per cent. My hon. Friend asked about the number of road projects. I could give him a full list of projects in the programme, but the main ones that we are undertaking are the completion of the M25, the widening of the M1, the M40 Oxford to Birmingham plus the A1-M1 link.

Mr. Prescott

Is the Secretary of State aware that the British Road Federation report accuses the Government of insufficient investment in the road programme and of having no clear policy for roads? Can he inform the House whether he or his Department have rejected tolls on motorways and are considering the recommendations by the BRF for tax-free bonds for pop stars? Can we envisage Tom Jones coming from his tax haven and speeding down to Wales on the Tom Jones motorway? Will that be a means of financing our motorways?

Mr. Ridley

I expect that Tom Jones speeds down motorways in any case. We have rejected the idea of tolls on motorways in general, apart from the two aerial crossings. The best way to provide the roads that we need is to get the biggest programme that we can. The figures that I gave show that we have an increasing programme of expenditure on trunk roads and motorways.