HC Deb 20 April 2004 vol 420 cc144-5
6. Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on action he plans as a result of the M1 multi-modal study.[166174]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty)

Last week, we announced that we were putting a £1.9 billion scheme to widen the M1 in the east midlands into the targeted programme of improvements. That will now be taken forward by the Highways Agency. Work to progress other elements of the study's recommendations is being co-ordinated at various stages within the region.

Dr. Palmer

Together with Broxtowe borough council, I am concerned that the multi-modal study is being cherry picked and that we are seeing a celebration of the roads programme with insufficient progress made on other elements. I am sure that my hon. Friend would agree that the point of a multi-modal study is to integrate the different modes of transport. Will he assure the House that the other elements of the proposals will be taken with equal seriousness?

Mr. McNulty

I can tell my hon. Friend that, together with various stakeholders and key players in the region, we are progressing as much as we can on all elements of the multi-modal study across the piece, whether it be public transport, road or other elements. I can understand the frustration about the time involved in the process: in some cases it means local authorities making bids for the local transport plan—in conjunction or separately. We are seriously considering the outcome of this and other multi-modal studies across the piece, incorporating public transport as well as road elements.

Mr. Damian Green (Ashford) (Con)

The Minister will know that drivers on the M1, especially in the west and east midlands, will want the multi-modal study to lead to easier, smoother driving on the motorway. In that regard, may I congratulate him and his ministerial colleagues on hinting to selected media that they propose to adopt the Conservative proposal for an 80 mph maximum speed limit on the M1 and other motorways? Can he confirm that he has stolen that very good policy, and may I assure him that we have many more good policies—on speed cameras, uninsured drivers and road humps—that he would be well advised to steal as well?

Mr. McNulty

The hon. Gentleman might find that he would have more integrity in the House if he had risen during the last question and answered the points made by my fellow Under-Secretary about his previous little wheeze for endorsing those who would break the law on speed cameras. Many, many motorists will welcome what we have already announced in the programme of almost £2 billion for the M1, as they will welcome much of what we have done, in a concentrated and focused roads programme, for further improvements to the M1.

We take very seriously all suggestions for policies, however bonkers they may be, and we shall put those of the Conservative party into the mix, too. I encourage the hon. Gentleman to pursue his transport policies, because the more he talks about a clear transport policy for the Tories, the more he ensures that he will remain on the Opposition Benches for a long, long time.