§ The Minister for Roads and Traffic (Mr. Robert Atkins)
While accurate estimates are not possible, road congestion clearly increases fuel consumption, which must be a wasteful use of resources.
§ Mr. Hardy
Does the Minister accept that the volume of fuel consumed by stationary or almost stationary vehicles must soon equal the total that was consumed by freely moving vehicles not all that many years ago? Will he study the matter to arrive at an estimate of the cost of those delays and the other consequencies of traffic congestion and traffic thrombosis, which are experienced on almost every long car journey throughout the country?
§ Mr. Atkins
I defer to the hon. Gentleman's mathematical genius in doing such a calculation. As the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) said earlier, that demonstrates the need for improved, wider and, where necessary, new roads, which is part and parcel of the Government's policy.
§ Mr. Amos
My hon. Friend recently visited the north-east—we were very pleased to see him—so I am sure that he is aware of the amount of fuel that is wasted by drivers travelling from London to the north-east on the A1. Can he offer me and my constituents any hope that the A1 will be improved to motorway standard within the foreseeable future?
§ Mr. Atkins
My hon. Friend is a doughty supporter of the new requirements for the A1, and I give him credit for that. He will know that we are devoting much time, effort and commitment to improving the A1 and that we are giving much consideration to its conversion to a motorway between London and Newcastle. As he well knows, the problems involve several local people on either side of the A1, and they must be taken into account. My hon. Friend was right to raise the matter in the terms that he did.