HC Deb 05 March 1984 vol 55 cc589-90
2. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received, pursuant to the decision to survey the requirement for a second Severn crossing, relating to such a second crossing; and if he will make a statement.

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

Following the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on 7 February about a study of a second Severn crossing, I have received representations from the Welsh office of the Confederation of British Industry, other commercial interests and local authorities. Those clearly show a welcome for my right hon. Friend's announcement, and I know that those sentiments are widely shared in Wales.

Mr. Adley

I confirm the latter point in my hon. Friend's comments, but in view of the problems that we seem to be having, not just with the Severn bridge but, recently, with Hammersmith bridge, both of which are road bridges, and in view of the lack of problems with rail tunnels, including the old one under the Severn, will my hon. Friend assure the House: that a tunnel alongside a bridge will be considered as a possibility? Secondly, has he cleared his mind of any possibility of the second crossing being a rail crossing, and might it be possible to combine rail and road in one crossing?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

As the House will know, the terms of reference of the feasibility study are being drawn up with all speed, and they will be announced in the not-to-distant future. A two-year timetable was given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The question of a tunnel will be taken into consideration. I know my hon. Friend's addiction to railways, and I commend him for that. All factors will be taken into account before the final terms of reference are decided.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does the hon. Gentleman want to see a second crossing of the Severn?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

There is no doubt about the Government's commitment to maintaining a first-class crossing of the Severn into Wales, in the interests of the Principality in general and of south Wales in particular.

Sir Raymond Gower

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the terms of reference will be as wide as possible and will embrace the alternative mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley), and will even contemplate the possibility of a barrage?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I can give an assurance that the terms of reference will be wide, but I must make one proviso clear. We do not wish to delay the study, and therefore the barrage must stand or fall on its ability to generate electricity. That is the first priority. Other than that, it will be possible to take it into account in arriving at our conclusion.