§ Mr. Alfred Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the percentage cut in real terms in the highway maintenance allocation for Manchester for 1981–82 compared with that for 1974–75; what effects he expects the cut to have on the structural maintenance of Manchester's roads; what representations his Department has had on the matter from the Greater Manchester association of metropolitan authorities; what reply he is sending; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
At November 1979 prices £21.37 million of highway maintenance expenditure was 265W accepted for 1981–82 transport supplementary grant for Greater Manchester. No equivalent figure exists for 1974–75 because TSG did not commence until 1975–76. £8.36 million of expenditure was accepted for TSG in 1975–76 at November 1973 prices, which revalues to approximately £21 million at November 1979 prices. There has, therefore, been no cut in real terms.
It is for the Greater Manchester council to decide the priority for, and level of, expenditure for its structural maintenance programme. We have had a letter from the association explaining the county's needs for maintenance and emphasising that Greater Manchester's expenditure is the lowest per mile of all the metropolitan counties. The reply will point out to it, as I explained to a deputation from the county council last week, that the GMC had bid for an increase on 1980–81 accepted expenditure of nearly 10 per cent. at a time when total maintenance expenditure needs to be reduced as part of the Government's planned reduction in public expenditure. It would not have been justified to accept its bid in full, at the expense of other counties who had reduced their bids or increased them by a much smaller amount.