HC Deb 11 March 1991 vol 187 c655
5. Mr. Rathbone

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration is being given to improve further east-west road links to the channel tunnel.

The Minister for Roads and Traffic (Mr. Christopher Chope)

There are several major schemes in the national roads programme which will improve the main east-west routes to the channel tunnel and channel ports to meet expected demand into the next century.

Mr. Rathbone

I welcome that confirmation, but may I impress on the Minister, as a delegation of East Sussex Members of Parliament impressed on the Secretary of State the other day, the urgency of improving east-west road links to the channel tunnel before its opening? If that is not done, communications to Sussex and further west will be such that it will absolutely impossible to take advantage of the new link with the continent.

Mr. Chope

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State reported on my hon. Friend's meeting with him. I cannot guarantee that all the schemes in the programme will be completed for the opening of the tunnel, but the main ones should be completed, particularly the one between Folkestone and Dover. There are about 10 schemes for the A259 in the programme, which I hope will be brought to fruition.

Mr. Aitken

At the risk of being called a southbound bore, may I press my hon. Friend for an answer an when the Government think that the channel tunnel will. open? Is he aware of the need for authoritative statement because of disturbing press reports about the likelihood of serious signalling and other technical equipment delays resulting in the tunnel being at least one year late? What is the true position?

Mr. Chope

I have nothing to add to what has been said: mid-1993 is the date for the opening.