HL Deb 12 July 1973 vol 344 cc827-9

3.18 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 whether they will now publish the proposed rail and road routes from Maplin Airport, showing in detail whether any damage will be caused to established communities.


My Lords, a consultation document illustrating possible road and rail routes to Maplin will be published quite soon. The Government will not take a decision on a route for more detailed survey until they have received the views of the public and local authorities on the various possible routes.


My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. Is she aware that thousands of people, right across Essex, are very worried about the effect which the roads, railways and new towns may have on their homes and amenities, and does she think it is fair that they should be kept in the dark on this very important question? Secondly, is she aware of the fact that a number of leaks, official or otherwise, have appeared in certain privileged newspapers lately, and that these, giving maps purporting to indicate the routes, are only adding to the confusion? Thirdly, is she aware of the fact that one of the Ministers of the appropriate Department recently said that no bridge would be built across the River Crouch, only to contradict himself a few days later and say that a bridge would be built? Is she also aware of the fact—this is my last question—that many people who are looking twenty years ahead, and who are fundamentally in favour of the Maplin project, are likely to change their minds unless the Government indulge in more open government on this question?


My Lords, on the first part of that supplementary question, I should like to remind the noble Lord that this consultation document is an extra procedure in public consultation, and the Government will issue it as soon as they can. I will give an assurance that it is our intention that this shall be available in time for the Committee stage of the Maplin Development Bill in this House. It is for precisely the reasons outlined by the noble Lord that we wish to undertake this extra process of consultation. So far as newspaper reports are concerned, I am afraid that I cannot comment on where the newspapers got their information: I simply do not know. The observations of my honourable friend are, I think, a matter for the Record.


My Lords, can the noble Baroness say what she means when she says that we shall have this consultation document before completing the Maplin Development Bill? We had the Maplin Development Bill some little time ago.


My Lords, I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. I thought that I said, "before the Committee stage of the Bill".


My Lords, can my noble friend say whether, in preparing this consultation document, the possibility is being examined of more massive reclamation of Maplin Sands and an Eastern orbital highway for London, connecting Essex with Kent, Heathrow and Gatwick?


My Lords, I do not think my noble friend would expect me to anticipate what is in the consultation document, which will be available in the Printed Paper Office as soon as possible.


My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that some of us would like more information about Maplin, in addition to rail and road routes? Can we have information about the number of large aircraft which may be operating in the 1980s? And in view of what has been published since my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing asked about "hush-kits" the other day, could we be told—since the Americans are now doing considerable research—how many aircraft might be fitted with these silencers which will have a considerable bearing on the use of the alternative airport?


My Lords, the Question on the Order Paper referred to the consultation document on roads and rail routes. I think that the additional information for which my noble friend is asking is really another subject.

Forward to