HC Deb 02 February 1987 vol 109 c679
9. Dr. Twinn

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what measures have been taken to improve efficiency in road construction and repair.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We have taken a wide range of measures to provide better roads at lower costs, including increased competition, improved designs, and lane rental.

Dr. Twinn

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. His Department's achievement is easy to see. Motorists now find it easier to travel on roads that are not being repaired, whereas just a few years ago it was difficult to find a road that was not being repaired. What savings have been achieved from the introduction of the lane rental system?

Mr. Bottomley

The main saving is 38 per cent. in time. We reckon that we have saved 500 person days—if I may use that expression—in traffic jams. In terms of increased competition, we think that we have saved a good £16 million on the roads programme in one year alone. The intangible benefits of having a roads programme that is not cut, as it was year after year between 1974 and 1979, are of great benefit to the economic regeneration of this country.

Mr. Freud

Why are there more lane closures on British motorways that there are on any motorway in any other European country?

Mr. Bottomley

I suspect that, in part, the answer lies with the Lib-Lab pact, when much road reconstruction did not take place between 1977 and 1979. As the hon. Gentleman would realise if he had listened to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State speaking at the Conservative party conference last year, we aim to get rid of that backlog, and then we can feel that we can forget about the Lib-Lab pact.

Mr. Rowe

I represent a constituency where my constituents still find it impossible to find roads that are not closed most of the time, so can my hon. Friend do something about the early warning of predictable road works? For example, this morning when I was travelling up the M20 police moved us all off the motorway into Bromley and Chislehurst, giving no indication to the large number of people who had come across the Channel and who did not happen to know the byways of those pleasant areas how they would get out again.

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir.