§ 2. Mr. Clifford Forsythe
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total figure will be for new road schemes in the Antrim, South constituency for (a) 1992–93, (b) 1993–94 and (c) 1994–95.
§ Mr. Needham
Following an adjustment in planned expenditure, it is now intended to spent £0.5 million in 1993–94 on the construction of a slip road from the M2 motorway to ensure that it is in place when the new Antrim hospital opens. No expenditure will be incurred on major road schemes in the other two years.
§ Mr. Forsythe
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that very good reply. As he knows, the decision made at an earlier stage not to complete the slip road was considered to be ludicrous. Is he aware of the difficulties experienced on the part of the A26 that has not yet been dualled? Is he further aware that a number of patients from a wide area—indeed, from as distant as Larne—will be going to the hospital, meaning that good roads are essential to serve the hospital?
§ Mr. Needham
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his opening remarks. My hon. Friend the Minister who is responsible for health in Northern Ireland is not able to be here today because he is on duty in the Province. He and I have had a series of meetings about the provision of the slip road, and he reminded me of an undertaking that I had given when Minister responsible for health matters a few years ago. So together we moved heaven and earth to ensure, in a difficult year, that the necessary money was made available.
I appreciate the point that the hon. Gentleman makes about the A26. He will be aware, bearing in mind the other pressures we have on the budget this year, how difficult it has been to get a higher priority for roads. So long as I am responsible for transport in Northern Ireland, I shall continue to fight that corner as best I can.