§ 8. Mr. Martlew
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for improving the A69 road between Carlisle and Hexham.
§ Mr. Chope
We are improving the A69. I had the pleasure of opening the A69 Brampton bypass on Thursday. The preferred route for a bypass of Haltwhistle was announced on 10 December last year and we are now proceeding towards publication of the statutory orders. Other recent improvements include the provision of climbing lanes, and more will be done as required.
§ Mr. Martlew
Was not a political decision taken by the Minister last year to transfer responsibility from the Manchester regional office of the Department of Transport to Newcastle, and have not the consequences of that decision, which was taken without provision for extra manpower at Newcastle, been longer delays in projects to improve the A69, the Dalton bypass in the south of Cumbria and, most important to my constituents and to me, the proposed north-west bypass at Carlisle?
§ Mr. Chope
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The transfer was made to put more resources into the major programme of road infrastructure and investment in Cumbria, amounting to £186 million. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will ask the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) which of the schemes in that £186 million programme in Cumbria would be cut in the event of there being a Labour Government. I am writing to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East today to ask which of the 53 schemes that we are announcing for the coming financial year would be cut in the event of his being responsible for these matters.
§ Mr. Amos
Does my hon. Friend agree that the north-east has been treated fairly with regard to new road construction. If my hon. Friend considers the characteristics of and the accident record for the various types of vehicles which use the A69, especially heavy lorries and caravans, I am sure that he will agree that that stretch of road needs to be dualled urgently.