HC Deb 22 February 1988 vol 128 cc11-2
9. Mr. Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received about the speed with which motorway repairs are undertaken.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Various representations have been received which urge speedy completion of repairs. We aim to minimise delays by careful programming, improved traffic management and greater use of lane rental contracts which give an incentive for early completion.

Mr. Knox

Will my hon. Friend explain why it appears to take so long to effect motorway repairs?

Mr. Bottomley

It now takes between 30 and 40 per cent. less time than before lane rental was introduced. It is important to organise the work properly and to ensure that it is carried out efficiently and effectively. We are seeing substantial improvements. We are extending the use of lane rental contracts. We will not see such an improvement in time because lane rental is now being extended to some of the more complicated roadworks. I should like to see it on other roads as well as motorways.

Mr. Grocott

Is the Minister aware that part of the M54 to Telford has been under repair almost since the day it was opened? The Minister let us know recently that some inquiries were taking place into long-term but permanent remedial work on the motorway. Can he tell us how those inquiries are proceeding?

Mr. Bottomley

It would be simpler for me to write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Holt

Does my hon. Friend accept that his reply is completely complacent? I ask him to come with me and drive on a Friday from London to my constituency. A journey that used to take four and half hours now takes six and a half hours because of the miles and miles of coned-off A1 from Rotherham, north, which adds about one and a half to two hours to a journey. If the Minister had to pass through that in order to get to work, he would damn soon get rid of some of the cones.

Mr. Bottomley

If I were going to my hon. Friend's constituency on a Friday night, I would go by train. It is worth remembering that some of the roadworks are to improve and expand the network, and I think that that is generally welcomed. It is also worth saying that if it had started in 1975, rather than in 1979, the roads would be in a much better state than they are now.