§ 3.5 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government when it is anticipated that the new route incorporating the Wycombe Bypass will be fixed, and when it is expected to be completed.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport intends to publish as soon as possible a draft Scheme to establish the line of the by-pass. Provided there are no serious objections to his proposals he expects to be able to fix the route about nine months later. My right honourable friend cannot yet forecast when construction will be started or how long it will take to complete the project. The by-pass will be about 13 miles long and will extend from Stokenchurch to just west of Beaconsfield, where it would link conveniently with any future by-pass of Beaconsfield.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that on the stretch of A.40 between Denham roundabout and Loudwater, which is intended to feed into the Wycombe by-pass, there has been a most alarming increase in the number of accidents? I would ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that between October, 1956, and September, 1959, there were 20 killed and 350 injured on that stretch of road; and that between October, 1959, and September, 1960, there were 13 killed and 151 injured, which is almost a 50 per cent. 1196 increase in accidents; and that the Minister, although he has been asked by the Buckinghamshire County Council about the whole matter of the by-pass, has so far not found it possible to reply?
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, and as his reply to the original Question has such a familiar ring about it, I was wondering whether he would be good enough to convey to his right honourable friend the suggestion that in future it should not be impossible for the Ministry of Transport, when they have the authority, or assume the authority, to fix the line of a road, at the same time to publish a schedule of approximate dates as to when the whole thing will be finished, so that we do not have this ridiculous position year after year of apologia after apologia made to suggestions that it should be finished in one quarter of the time.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, of course I should be delighted to convey the idea of the noble Lord to my right honourable friend, but (I am not going into this in great detail, as I have done it so often when questions have been repeatedly asked about the same thing) until it is possible to give a more positive reply, it is necessary to give an interim reply; which is what has been happening.
Turning from that to the supplementary question asked by my noble friend Lord Howe, I have not the casualty figures for the piece of road in question and I do not know off-hand whether his figures are correct or not; but, of course, I shall check them. The one thing I would ask him to bear in mind is that the casualty figures for the length of road he mentioned would not in fact be directly affected by the High Wycombe by-pass, which would not include the piece of road he mentioned, from Denham to Loudwater. It is intended, when a bypass is built, to extend it in due course round Beaconsfield and along to Denham; but the py-pass itself would have no effect, or very little effect, on that part of the road. So far as correspondence between the Buckinghamshire County Council and my right honourable friend is concerned, I do not know anything about that, but I will look into it.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, the noble Lord referred to 1197 interim replies. Would he convey to his right honourable friend that we should welcome some interim dividends?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, if the noble Lord cares to cast his eye around the country he will find dividends in plenty.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Those are all long overdue, and dividends that are overdue are not any satisfaction to shareholders.
My Lords, is my noble friend aware that Handcross has certainly received dividends? After 21 years the by-pass is now complete.
§ LORD AMWELL
My Lords, do the Government subscribe to the view that increasing facilities for speed are likely to reduce accidents?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I do not think that that arises out of the original Question but the Government certainly subscribe to the view that safe roads on which the traffic can flow smoothly increase safety.