HC Deb 23 June 1986 vol 100 cc9-10
9. Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce his decision as to which contender has won the contract to construct a further crossing at Dartford on the M25; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moore

I am pleased at the interest shown by promoters in this very important project. The bids they submitted are being carefully examined. I hope to announce the result before the end of July.

Mr. Proctor

In view of the great importance to Essex and other counties and to all users of the M25 through the Dartford tunnel, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be no delay in the construction of a third crossing at Dartford?

Mr. Moore

I recognise the great importance of that to which my hon. Friend draws attention from the point of view of potential users. I can give him that assurance. Obviously I shall seek to ensure that the decision comes before the House as quickly as possible.

Mr. Squire

As one who also represents a constituency near the Dartford tunnel, I assure my right hon. Friend that, for much of the day, there are considerable delays on the north side of the tunnel. Allowing for the usual time lag between contracts coming into play and construction taking place, I can only underline the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor). A third crossing is needed, yesterday.

Mr. Moore

I note my hon. Friend's comment. I have agreed to meet the Essex and Kent local authorities on 1 July, because I recognise the critical importance of this project.

Mr. Tony Banks

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that any new tunnel will not carry toll charges? Perhaps the passage of vehicles could be greatly speeded up if the present toll charges for travel through the Dartford tunnel were removed.

Mr. Moore

I shall give no such undertaking. I cannot comment on the Government's position on tolls in advance of our response to the report on tolls by the Select Committee on Transport.

Mr. Couchman

Will my right hon. Friend. in considering this important addition to the roads through Kent which affect my constituency, take note of the appalling state of the M2, which links with the M25 and the Dartford tunnel as the route to the north? Will he ensure that this important artery from the Channel is considered in some depth at an early stage by his Department?

Mr. Moore

I know that my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for roads has listened carefully, as I have, to my hon. Friend's comments. One of the few things that I have learnt in the past few weeks is that issues relating to transport movements in Kent are uppennost in the mind of any Minister in the Department of Transport.