§ 3.15 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can give a date for the commencement of proceedings for the work on the proposed by-pass for Witney, Oxon, on the A.40.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD LINDGREN)
My Lords, preparatory work is proceeding, but my right honourable friend is unable to give a date at present for the start of construction.
My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he would accept the thanks of the Liberal Party for his Answer to this Question emanating from the Liberal Benches?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his reply, which gives me a flicker of hope for this by-pass which has been for such a long time under discussion. May I add a word about Witney?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
My Lords, surely we can have some relief from this terrible South Wales traffic which passes through the narrow streets of Witney. My question is this. Two sets of traffic lights and crossings have already been agreed by the Witney Council and the Highways Committee of the Oxfordshire County Council. I hope that these will now have the approval of the Ministry. Would the noble Lord kindly say whether that is so?
§ LORD LINDGREN
My Lords I will take the noble Lord's question in the various parts. First, it is anticipated that when the M.4 becomes operative in the 1970s about 25 per cent. of the traffic now passing through Witney to South Wales will go through on the M.4. On the improvements which can be made now, the position is that traffic lights for both ends of Bridge Street have been agreed; and since the noble Lord put down his Question we have also agreed an improvement to the Witney bridge and the Ducklington road. The cost of the latter scheme comes to about £64,000.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, would my noble friend give an assurance that, meanwhile, everything will be done to hasten completion of the High Wycombe By-pass, which carries a far greater volume of traffic on the A.40 than 'Witney does?
§ LORD LINDGREN
My Lords, this is a question of priorities. There is a tremendous amount of road improvement to be done. There have to be priorities, and the Witney By-pass is not among the highest of those priorities.