HC Deb 23 November 1992 vol 214 cc599-600
8. Mr. Jessel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he is making on the installation of red routes in Greater London.

Mr. Norris

Following the success of the pilot red route, I have designated 315 miles of priority routes. I have set objectives for the traffic director, who is now consulting on his network plan.

Mr. Jessel

Does my hon. Friend agree that the red routes—the brainchild of our former excellent colleague Sir Philip Goodhart—are not being introduced nearly fast enough? When the economy revives, London will face monster traffic jams. Will my hon. Friend ensure that the red routes on the A316 Great Chertsey road and the A4 Cromwell road are put in as quickly as possible, that being the main route into London from Twickenham?

Mr. Norris

As you will know, Madam Speaker, the Great Chertsey road is not only the road into London from Twickenham, but the road down which Bill Sikes took Oliver Twist en route to the blag in Chertsey. With that in mind, we shall of course deal with the matter at an early date. The traffic directors' draft network plan proposes implementation of that section during 1994.

I shall be delighted to pass on my hon. Friend's congratulations and good wishes to Sir Philip Goodhard, who did indeed articulate the original concept.

Ms. Glenda Jackson

Will the Minister reconsider his previous refusal to meet traders in my constituency who view the imposition of red routes in Finchley road as catastrophic? I quote from what they say: "If they are—"[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. I should inform all hon. Members that during Question Time they are not allowed to quote.

Ms. Jackson

I apologise, Madam Speaker. The traders in my constituency believe that if red routes are imposed in the Finchley road there is no way that either they or their businesses can survive.

Mr. Norris

As one who has spent all his life in small business—I did not intend it that way; it just turned out that way—I take very seriously indeed the idea that businesses might have been adversely affected by the introduction of the priority routes. I have examined with the greatest care all the evidence that has been submitted to me in an effort to demonstrate that proposition. There is not the slightest evidence that priority routes have had any impact on businesses in the priority route areas. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I hear Opposition Members, from a sedentary position, claim otherwise. They are of a particular mind about red routes, but there is no evidence whatever for the proposition that they advance.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend agree that what we have heard is an example of the misinformation going around London about the red routes? Will he redouble his efforts to make sure that the truth about the results of the experiment comes out? Will he constantly point to the improvements through the reduction in pollution and rat running and also to the improvements in bus reliability and the number of legal parking spaces?

Mr. Norris

I agree with my hon. Friend. Certain political positions were taken up on the matter by Opposition Members. The obvious advantages of the scheme now being evident, they are in some difficulty. They continue to peddle alarming disinformation—for example, regarding the supposed disadvantages to shopkeepers in the area. The reality is exactly as my hon. Friend says: improved safety, improved bus reliability and the much better management of traffic in the area, to the benefit of all concerned.