HC Deb 27 November 1995 vol 267 cc920-1
15. Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last drove down the M6 past Birmingham in the rush hour in his official capacity; and if he will make a statement. [657]

Sir George Young

I travelled on the M6 near Birmingham on 13 October to attend the bus and coach show.

Mr. Fabricant

I am relieved to hear that and I hope that my right hon. Friend enjoyed the show, but was he caught in a traffic jam? If he was not, it was probably a rare occasion. Is he aware that people constantly come off the M6 at Stafford and drive through my constituency to get down to Coleshill? Is he also aware that the state of traffic on the M6 is causing great deprivation to industry not only in the midlands but in the north-west? When will we get the Birmingham northern relief road and when will the widening of the M6 be completed?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend will be interested to learn that I was not inconvenienced by any traffic on my journey to Birmingham, although I do not deny that there is congestion on the M6. As for the Birmingham northern relief road, the inquiry has just been completed, and it was quite long. The moment that we get the inspector's report, we shall process it as quickly as we can. It will be a joint decision for the Secretary of State for the Environment and myself. I cannot speculate at this stage on timing, but we shall try to decide as soon as we can.

Mr. Mike O'Brien

Does the Secretary of State know that the promoters of the Birmingham northern relief road conceded at the public inquiry that building the road would not relieve congestion on the M6 at rush hours? Is it not the case that the only way to do that is through a properly integrated public transport system that gets people in the west midlands where they want to go at rush hours? The Government do not seem to be behind the sort of policy that would deal with the problems on the M6.

Sir George Young

On the first point, the hon. Gentleman tempts me to anticipate the Government's response to the inspector's inquiry. I know that he would not want me to do that.

On the second point, it is not the case that we have neglected public transport in and around Birmingham. There were questions earlier about the west coast main line. I was in the west midlands relatively recently, turning the sod for the Midland Metro scheme. There is substantial investment in public transport in and around Birmingham, so people are not wholly dependent on the M6 to get around.

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