§ The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Cecil Parkinson)
We receive representations from time to time on lighting the motorway network. These have included the National Chamber of Trade, a small number of police authorities and Members of Parliament on behalf of their constituents. Some have come direct from members of the public. We also receive representations against the further lighting of the motorway network from other interested parties.
§ Mr. Cran
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as it is widely accepted that the lighting of motorways reduces accidents, the capital cost of extending lighting to the whole of the motorway system, which is about £170 million, and the annual running costs of more than £12 million, are cheap at the price considering the cost to the National Health Service of treating accident victims? If my right hon. Friend cannot come forward with a comprehensive plan, will he propose a priority plan based on the worst motorway accident areas?
§ Mr Parkinson
My hon. Friend touches on an important point. At the moment we are targeting lighting on areas where major accidents occur. At present, about a quarter of the system is lit. We examine very carefully whether we should install lighting, for instance, on the M25 where there was a bad accident. The objectors are environmentalists who claim that in certain areas motorway lighting is intrusive and destroys the environment.
§ Mr. Parkinson
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's second point. If he will let me know about particular sections of the M6 that are dangerous and that do not appear to receive the right priority, I shall certainly consider them.
§ Mr. Waller
Before rushing into the wholesale lighting of motorways, which are among the safest roads in the country, will my right hon. Friend consider whether the not inconsiderable sum involved might be better spent on local traffic management schemes, which have been shown to have a good effect in reducing casualties?
§ Mr. Parkinson
It is precisely that balance that we are trying to strike, of using the money to the best possible advantage, so that we deal with the problem areas on motorways. However, not all the problem areas are on the motorways.