HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc11-3
13. Mr. William Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what additions have been made to the roads programme in the last 12 months.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Since 1 July 1986, 86 schemes have been added to the trunk road construction programme. Details are given in the roads policy White Paper, Cm. 125, published on 28 April 1987.

Mr. Powell

Is my hon. Friend aware of how welcome the improvements and additions have been in the county of Northamptonshire, especially in the eastern part of the county, and not least the A1-M1 link the construction of which will begin shortly? Will my hon. Friend accept that the huge industrial and commercial success of the town of Corby is making it necessary for the roads in the Stamford and Peterborough areas to be considerably improved so that the carriageway to parts of Boston and King's Lynn, and further across Norfolk, can be made a great deal easier than is currently the case?

Mr. Bottomley

I cannot give a detailed answer to the second part of my hon. Friend's question. However, on the first part, it is true that better roads help economic development as well as road safety and the improvement of the environment. The Government intend to continue to manage the economy so that we can continue to have gradual improvements to the road network.

Mr. Haynes

The Minister knows full well that the Government are providing money for the extension of the road surface programme. However, when will the Minister have a word with the Secretary of State so that he will ask at Cabinet meetings for the provision of money for resurfacing roads when that is required? The roads in my constituency are full of potholes. The Secretary of State should be ashamed of himself. He should open his mouth in Cabinet meetings so that we can have such holes filled in.

Mr. Bottomley

My right hon. Friend is responsible for about 4 per cent. of the road network. The other 96 per cent. is the responsibility of the local authorities——

Mr. Haynes

The Government have cut the rate support grant.

Mr. Bottomley

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish. The amount of money that has been spent on road maintenance has increased under the Government in roughly inverse proportion to the amount that was cut by the Labour Government. I hope that we shall receive the hon. Gentleman's support for what we are doing and for our continuation in office.

Mr. Boswell

While accepting that the A1-M1 link is now to he a fact, will my hon. Friend give us the firmest possible assurance that he will treat the problems of the intervening villages along the access roads with the greatest possible sensitivity, because there is great concern?

Mr. Bottomley

On both the national roads and in our dealings with local authorities about local highways we try to make sure that the greatest advantage is taken from improved roads such as the A1-M1 link.

Mr. Hood

Is the Minister aware that the most dangerous stretch of roadway in Britain is the A74, which is connected to the M74 in Scotland, 32 miles of which go through my constituency? Is he also aware that the Conservative manifesto for Scotland pledged to upgrade the A74 to the M74? People are still being killed on that roadway and as recently as last week a family of three were wiped out. Will the Government carry out their commitment to upgrade that roadway to motorway category as soon as possible, because we are now told that it might take 10 years. That is not acceptable. The Government must complete that roadway to save people's lives.

Mr. Bottomley

I fully understand why the hon. Gentleman makes those points, but they would be more appropriately made to my hon. Friend the Minister responsible for roads in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman emphasised the point that, with more than 5,000 people killed on our roads a year, many lives may be saved by having roads built to the appropriate standard, whether low-cost, high-return engineering work, motorways or something in the spectrum in between. I shall continue to do what I can, as will my colleague in the Scottish Office.