HL Deb 12 November 1976 vol 377 cc862-4

11.8 a.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 when work on the inter-urban motorway, the M.64 from Stoke-on-Trent to Derby, is to be continued and when it is likely to be completed.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, decisions have not yet been taken on the appropriate method of improving road communications between Stoke and Derby. A public consultation exercise is currently in progress. It is unlikely that construction on this route will commence before the mid-1980s.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. I regret the latter part of it; that is, that nothing can be expected before the 1980s. Am I not correct in assuming that in the case of difficulties with the Stock-on-Trent end of it, a part could already be constructed? May I ask my noble friend whether she is aware that I wish to congratulate the Department of Transport on the excellent brochure which they have produced for the public discussions now going on. Is my noble friend aware that Members of Parliament from all political Parties have during, the past 30 years, pressed for the extension near the Stoke-on-Trent area in the Tean, Longton and Blythe Bridge areas, which may be strange to my noble friend but which are of vital importance to the local people.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, road schemes take about 10 years from inception to the start of construction to go through all their stages of route selection, design and all the statutory processes. Therefore, when a major scheme of this kind is first thought about it is obviously some years before it actually comes into being. So far as the by-passes of some of the villages arc concerned, we know that there are problems in the villages at the Stoke end. The Government will endeavour to find the best means of dealing with the whole problem. Major improvements of any kind on the route cannot be undertaken quickly. May I thank my noble friend—it is not often that we receive bouquets from the BackBenches—for his congratulations on what my Department have done? May I also ask whether he has filled in and returned the questionnaire which went with the brochure so that we can have his views on record as well?


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether or not she was responsible for the questionnaire coming into my hands? I have the questionnaire and I should like to ask my noble friend whether or not she has read the sections from (a) to (f)? There are references to noise, the effect on agriculture, the attractive countryside and recreational areas, the demolition of dwellings and the visual effect on property of the building of a good road. These are of vital importance. At the present moment, in walking through some of the villages on this route, one is in terror for life and limb. Consequently, I hope that the matter will be reconsidered when the public have been able to discuss it in order to safeguard their rights and properties.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether the procedure of this House is being altered so that questions are put from the Front Bench to the Back-Bench instead of vice-versa?


My Lords, has the noble Baroness a slight twinge of conscience this Friday morning —when she has just been speaking in defence of what the Government are doing, and saying that it takes 10 years to obtain certain things—when, the other night, on an equally sensible matter regarding the Health Services Bill, she was saying that six months is ample time?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, road programmes take very much longer to devise, to get the right route and construct the road.


My Lords, could my noble friend assure us that consideration will be given to putting much of the heavy traffic on rail rather than road?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I am sure that the Minister of Transport is fully aware of the views of my noble friend, which I share.