HC Deb 23 April 1990 vol 171 cc10-1
14. Mr. Favell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether a starting date for the A6(M) bypass has been fixed.

Mr. Atkins

Time will be needed for design work, supplementary orders and compulsory purchase orders. A second public inquiry is likely and then construction could start by the end of 1992.

Mr. Favell

Can it be true that there will be yet another public inquiry on this much-needed road to relieve probably the greatest traffic congestion in the north-west? Why do we spend so long taking evidence from people objecting to a motorway rather than simply getting on with it? The people in Stockport will go bananas at this news.

Mr. Atkins

I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend's views. I know that he has consistently pressed for the road to be built as a matter of urgency and I understand his worry. As long as there are objections, statutory procedures require a public inquiry. But I understand my hon. Friend's concern and I shall convey it to those who are in a position to do something about it.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the Minister accept that it is absolutely crazy to have another public inquiry now, as the Department has already constructed a massive interchange in my constituency to link up with the proposed road? How can an inquiry consider the objective case for a different route when the Department has already built the interchange?

Mr. Atkins

There have been several amendments to the original plans which have produced objections. As long as there are objections, a public inquiry is required. As I said, I have considerable sympathy with the views, represented by hon. Members on both sides of the House, on the time it takes to have an inquiry and build a road. However, we are where we are, and I must obey the letter of the law.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does my hon. Friend accept that the constituents of Stockport are not the only ones who will go bananas if there is no assistance in relation to the M6? Is he aware that the prosperity of the north-west has grown so substantially that road congestion is extremely serious, not least in Lancashire and Morecambe, and that because of the dilatoriness of the county council, which refuses to make the M6 link a priority, matters are becoming worse? Will he ensure that that essential link is provided as early as possible, despite Lancashire county council?

Mr. Atkins

I always listen carefully to what my Member of Parliament has to say about the M6, particularly as I know the road well. I am cautious about making comments about motorway junctions that affect my constituency, because I am in a slightly difficult position as Minister for Roads and Traffic. My hon. Friend's general points about the M6 are well taken and I shall do all that I can to ensure that we are not delayed by the unnecessary tardiness of Lancashire county council.