§ 3. Mr. Roger King
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give the date for the completion of the M40 extension.
§ The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Paul Channon)
Subject to the outcome of the public inquiry currently under way into the Waterstock-Wendlebury section, I hope that the whole of the M40 from Oxford to Birmingham will be completed during 1991.
§ Mr. King
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware of the widespread concern felt by many of those living in the midlands and elsewhere about the restrictions that his Department is planning on the lane width of the Wendlebury to Waterstock section of the M40? It is felt that building a two-lane motorway in this day and age is unacceptable in terms of the traffic flows which most people expect on that road. Are the experts who predicted those traffic flows the same as those who predicted traffic flows on the M25?
§ Mr. Channon
The answer to my hon. Friend's latter point must be no, because it is about 20 years since the 4 M25 forecasts were made. My hon. Friend asked whether I was well aware of the concern. My goodness me, I certainly am aware of it from my recent visit to Birmingham and other parts of the midlands. Of course I am well aware of that concern. The published proposals are for a dual two-lane motorway, with widened structures at that point. The proposals are currently before the inquiry. I have made no final decision, but shall reach it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment in the light of the inspectors' report.
§ Mr. Boswell
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Does he accept that even those of us who find that the motorway is to pass through our personal property are anxious that, after this long history of nearly 20 years, work should be pressed ahead as soon as possible, providing a three-lane standard from beginning to end?
§ Mr. Channon
I get the impression that that is the general view of my hon. Friends. I note what my hon. Friend has said.
§ Mr. Fry
Does my right hon. Friend accept that the latest figures on the increased use of our motorways, showing a 17 per cent. increase between the second quarter of 1986 and the second quarter of 1987, bring into doubt, not only the wisdom of having a two-lane M40, but whether the M40 will be sufficient to relieve the already much overcrowded M1?
§ Mr. Channon
I believe that it will have that effect. My hon. Friend has drawn attention to an important point. I am sure that he will enthusiastically support me when I tell him that there will be a £2 billion programme of new construction for motorways and trunk roads during the next three years.