HL Deb 13 May 1985 vol 463 cc888-9

2.43 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultations they have had with the local authority in St. Albans about the proposed closure of lanes on the M.1 in the St. Albans area between 2nd and 14th July 1985.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the proposals have been drawn up in conjunction with the Hertfordshire County Council, which is responsible for the local road system in the St. Albans area. The city and district council are being kept informed.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer, but I do not think that "being kept informed" really covers the situation. Is it not the case that the first that St. Albans City Council knew of this matter was a letter from the Departments of the Environment and Transport on 1st May, which was the day after the whole subject had been aired in the local press? Does the Minister consider that that is the proper way of keeping local authorities informed of something which is going to have a very serious impact on their city?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, first, as I said in my original Answer, we have been working very closely with the Hertfordshire County Council, which is the traffic authority for the area; and the district of St. Albans has been kept informed. As to the second part of the noble Lord's supplementary question, I hope that this will not have too serious an effect upon St. Albans city itself. We have no plans for diversion through St. Albans city. The lorry ban through St. Albans will not be lifted and we shall do what we can to discourage people from trying to go through St. Albans.

Lord Mowbray and Stourton

My Lords, may I ask the Government whether they have now learned the lesson from the building of the M.1 that the cheapest economies, both in widths of lanes and the standards of construction of the road itself, have all proved simply to be false economies?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I think there is a certain amount of truth in what my noble friend says. I think that the original building of the motorway with two lanes has proved to be a very false economy. As regards maintenance, I may tell him that this particular piece of road has not been repaired since it was first built in 1959 and that the time has now come when we can avoid it no longer.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the M.1 was orginally planned with three lanes and that it was only as a result of subsequent decisions that, disastrously, a section of it was reduced to two lanes?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I was not aware of the subject of my noble friend's observation. I take note of what he has said.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that on Saturday of last weekend I went up the M.1, which was cordoned off with cones on one lane, and came down on Sunday, and that there was hardly a hiccup in the traffic flow?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend was lucky. I am afraid that if she goes up during the first two weeks of July she may not be so lucky.