HC Deb 25 June 1984 vol 62 cc667-8
1. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the number of road accidents on motorways and trunk roads in Wales in each year since 1981; and what is his strategy for reducing their incidence.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. John Stradling Thomas)

The available information relates solely to accidents that caused death and personal injury. The figures are as follows: 1981, 2,041; 1982, 1,998; and 1983, 1,972. The trunk road improvement programme is the chief means of reducing road accidents. In addition, we are encouraging better road safety education and training.

Mr. Hooson

It is good to know that the accident statistics have been decreasing each year. Is my hon. Friend aware that there is strong Welsh approval for the high priority that Ministers give to trunk road improvements, because they mean improved driving safety and contribute to a stronger Welsh economy?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I agree with my hon. Friend. Expenditure on new construction, improvement and maintenance of trunk roads and motorways in Wales is an important part of that strategy.

Mrs. Clwyd

Does the Minister believe that police time is being used to the best effect in view of the findings of the Gifford report, which was published in Wales today, and the serious allegations made against the police? Will the hon. Gentleman press the Home Secretary for an official inquiry into these allegations?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I have taken careful note of the point. I have looked at the press reports and shall give further consideration to the matter.

Sir Raymond Gower

Does my hon. Friend agree that road construction is not the only answer to the problem? Will he, in co-operation with the Secretary of State for Transport, take account of the fact that all over the world lower speed limits than in Britain are implemented, leading to a marked decrease in serious accidents? I hope that my hon. Friend will look at that matter.

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I shall certainly give consideration to my hon. Friend's point. In addition, we attach great importance to better road safety education and training. I shall look carefully at my hon. Friend's point about speed limits.

Mr. Wigley

On the matter of better education and training, is the Minister aware that there are misgivings in some parts of Wales because insufficient literature is available for schools, especially where the Welsh language is the normal vehicle of education? Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the current provisions for this education by the Welsh Office? Should not the Welsh Office be giving a greater lead to the counties in this respect?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

The Welsh Office provides considerable funds towards the cost of the road safety activities of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in Wales. Those activities place a special emphasis on children's safety and make special provision for the disabled. We are contributing to the society's road safety exhibition at the Royal Welsh show. I have taken note of the hon. Gentleman's point about Welsh language provision and will look carefully into that aspect.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Assuming the direct relationship between driver fatigue and motorway accidents, what are the Minister's plans to improve motorway service facilities within the 80-odd miles of the M4 west of the Severn bridge?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, through no one's fault, certain difficulties have arisen. We shall try to sort matters out as rapidly, as possible. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, there have been considerable improvements in facilities as, for example, at Pont Abraham in his constituency.

Mr. Roy Hughes

How can the Government be so complacent about the vital matter of road maintenance when there are such persistent complaints from individuals and motoring organisations? Is it not yet another example of the Government's penny wise, pound foolish strategy, which is impairing economic efficiency as well as endangering life?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

Of course that does not relate directly to the question, which is about motorways and trunk roads. I believe that the hon. Gentleman is referring to road maintenance generally. I assure him that there is no complacency about that matter.

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