HL Deb 21 June 1967 vol 283 cc1385-7

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government—

  1. (1) When it is hoped to start work on the M.3, London to Basingstoke, motorway;
  2. (2) How long it will take to complete the motorway;
  3. (3) Whether they will cause an immediate survey to be made of the nine miles from the western end of the proposed motorway and the eastern end of the existing Winchester by-pass, in order to ascertain the problems of finally completing the motorway, thus providing a dual-carriageway road from London to Southampton.]


My Lords, subject to no unforeseen delays in completion of the statutory procedures, and the availability of funds, we hope that construction of the London to Basingstoke motorway will be started in late 1968 and completed about three years later. A preliminary assessment has already been made of the need to improve the route between the western end of the proposed motorway and the Winchester by-pass. The Ministry are considering whether to include such an improvement in the trunk road preparation pool. A more detailed survey is not needed for this decision but it would be put in hand after it had been decided to proceed with preparation of a scheme.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for the answers to the first two parts of my Question, may I ask Her Majesty's Government to look again at the problem of making the motorway complete? By leaving this gap, are they not risking committing the same errors as those made by those who planned the M.1 and the M.6, which are causing so much congestion at the moment? Also, do they not agree, in regard to the work force and the machinery which will be in operation, that much money might be saved if they went on and completed the motorway? Finally, is there any other country which would leave a 9-mile gap between their capital city and one of their major ports?


My Lords, on the last point I do not think that what the noble Lord has said is necessarily the case, although I must say that there are occasions when it would appear that this is so. In regard to the development of this extension, clearly the Government would like it to come about, and as soon as possible, but there are many other conflicting priorities which have to be taken into account. In the meantime, improvements and developments are taking place on that road; in particular, widening to a dual-carriageway standard which is being done on the existing A.33 between Popham and the Winchester by-pass.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that while we are glad to hear of progress on this road, a further three years to completion seems a very long time? Is the noble Lord also aware that the general rate of building motorways in this country is pro rata far slower than that in any other Western European country, and would the noble Lord try to do something to encourage his right honourable friend to speed up this very desirable development?


My Lords, my right honourable friend does not require my help in this matter. She is very conscious of the need to improve the rate of road building. As the noble Lord will be aware, certain matters have been taken into account with a number of companies which will in future be involved in motorway development, and we believe that this should result in an appreciable gain in this field. But I certainly agree with the noble Lord in his comments on the disparity between our own road building programme and that of overseas countries.


My Lords, will the noble Lord do all he can to press his right honourable friend to avoid creating another missing link in this country like the one between M.1 and M.6, which is most frustrating to all road users? It creates terrible bottlenecks and there is a potential danger to the traffic using the quite inadequate road.


My Lords, with his connections with the Automobile Association the noble Viscount well knows the great problems which face us in road building and the great difficulty of deciding between one priority and another. But I certainly take the noble Viscount's point.