HC Deb 28 January 2003 vol 398 cc713-4
10. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase)

If he will make a statement on progress with the construction of the Birmingham northern relief road. [93538]

The Minister for Transport (Mr. John Spellar)

The construction of the M6 toll motorway, formerly known as the Birmingham northern relief road, is the responsibility of the concessionaire, Midland Expressway Ltd. The road is on programme for opening early in 2004.

Tony Wright

I am grateful for that answer. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that part of the purpose of that road is still to stop my constituents using it? As I understand it, the strategic purpose of the road is to relieve through traffic on the M6. If so, that can work only if my constituents and other people in south Staffordshire have reliable and effective ways of getting in and out of the conurbation. At present, they do not. The Chase line is horrendous. May I ask that one bit of my right hon. Friend's Department talks to the other bit? If that new road gets clogged up with my constituents—if they can afford to use it—it will defeat the purpose and in 20 years we shall have demands for a relief road to relieve the relief road.

Mr. Spellar

I can confirm that the primary purpose of the road, as my hon. Friend rightly says, is to relieve the significant bottlenecks at the rail interchange and spaghetti junction, which create problems not only for west midlands industry but also for industry and commerce much further afield. I am sure that he will have held discussions with the motorway concessionaire in order to determine how the interests of his constituents can be served, but I take his point: we also need to look into other modes of transport—as we have pointed out from the Treasury Bench today—to ensure access not only to New Street but to the other stations in central Birmingham, thus freeing up traffic in the conurbation.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

The M6 toll road will not only improve connections between the south-east and the north-west; it could also improve connections with Wales through the M54. Is the Minister aware that only four or five miles of single carriageway—the A460—would link the M6 toll road with the M54? May I induce the Minister with a mouldy sandwich at an M6 service station to improve the links between the M6 toll, the M54 and Wales?

Mr. Spellar

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Highways Agency has commissioned consultants to complete a feasibility report on possible alignment. It is due to be completed at the end of March 2003, and it will be put to the Secretary of State in the spring. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will make representations after that.