HL Deb 13 July 1987 vol 488 cc827-8

2.38 p.m.

Lord Gridley

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 how many miles of new or reconstructed motorway and trunk roads have been built in Great Britain since 1979.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, since 1st April 1979, Her Majesty's Government have completed some 320 miles of new motorway and over 700 miles of new all-purpose trunk road in Great Britain. Between 1st April 1979 and 31st March 1987, over 530 route miles of motorway have been reconstructed in Great Britain. Over the same period, over 1,380 single carriageway equivalent miles of all-purpose trunk road have been reconstructed in England. Equivalent figures for Scotland and Wales are not available.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. As the construction of motorways and trunk roads also involves the construction of bypasses, has my noble friend any information about the number of bypasses constructed?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, since 1979, 70 bypasses have been completed in England and 23 are presently under construction. In their road building programme, the Government attach the highest priority to the construction of bypasses.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, do the Government have any intention of connecting England and Scotland by motor road?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I was under the impression that England and Scotland were connected, principally by the A.1, which I believe, on the whole, is a fairly high-class road.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, can the Minister say why there are no figures available for Scotland? It seems extraordinary.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the figures that are not available for Scotland relate only to the reconstruction of trunk roads. This is not recorded as a separate activity in Scotland.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that it is even more remarkable and extraordinary that there are no figures for Wales?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, it is the same point.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, does the Minister appreciate that I intervened on a somewhat similar Question only a short while ago? Is it pertinent to deal with one particular road; namely, the M.25? Can the Minister tell us the latest position? I was on the M.25 on Friday when the connection from Junction 8, travelling eastwards, was one of the longest crawls on three lanes that I have seen for many years. A substantial number of cars were on the hard shoulder. They had obviously over-heated. Approaching east and north of the Dartford Tunnel there was again a tremendous hold-up. Despite the increased number of booths, is it not time that tolls were removed from such an important orbital road?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am not able to answer in detail on individual road schemes. The Government have recently published the White Paper on Policy for Roads in England, Cmnd. 125. The noble Lord and others should be able to find details of our proposals in that document. With regard to the Dartford crossing, the noble Lord will be aware that there is a Bill presently before another place to facilitate the construction of a bridge over the Thames at Dartford to alleviate the problem there. I hope that when that Bill reaches this House it will be given all speed.

The Earl of Shrewsbury

My Lords, how confident are Her Majesty's Government that a start will be made on all the trunk road schemes included in the time-band 1987 to 1989 in the recently published document, Policy for Roads in England?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I hope very much that what is in the White Paper will indeed be started on time. We have increased our expenditure for investment in the future by a total of 15 per cent. over the next three years and this should allow the present momentum of the programme to be maintained.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, now that the M.25 motorway around London has been completed and shows evident signs of becoming saturated within the foreseeable future, will the Government consider reviving the proposal for an inner ring motorway around London? This issue was precipitately abandoned in the early 1970s by the late GLC.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I do not have an answer to that question at the moment. However, I recall that the proposals for an inner road around London did not meet with universal favour. So far as I know, we have no proposals to reconsider that matter.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, have the Government any plans to upgrade portions of the A.94 that are not yet dual carriageway?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I must apologise to the noble Lady. I cannot answer specific questions on specific roads at Question Time. I shall find out and write to the noble Lady.