§ Mr. Alan Howarth
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has considered the report by Mr. J. A. Gaffney and his colleagues on their review of structural highway maintenance; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
We have now completed our preliminary consideration of this report on the structural maintenance of motorways and other trunk roads. We shall want to discuss its detailed conclusions with representatives of local authorities through the standing committee on highway maintenance. In the meantime, I am placing in the Library a copy of a document which indicates our broad response to the key recommendations of the report.65W
We welcome the report's general endorsement of the scale of investment which we have committed to the maintenance of motorways and trunk roads. There is a good prospect on present trends that we shall have dealt with the backlog of maintenance needs by 1992, as well as having kept pace with current deterioration. The report rightly emphasises the importance of early action to repair carriageways if uneconomic costs are to be avoided. We agree that we should seek, so far as practicable, to build a greater element of firmness and continuity into the major programmes of capital investment necessary for the satisfactory maintenance of the trunk road system. We acknowledge the need to take steps to refine and improve monitoring on the general lines recommended, and to develop further our procedures and techniques for ranking priorities.
We also recognise the basic importance of further development of the whole life costing approach in maintaining trunk roads, and of sponsoring the research and development work essential to updating knowledge and techniques for pavement design and maintenance. We regard the report, taken, as a whole, as a significant contribution to enabling us, together with our agent authorities, to ensure the satisfactory maintenance of the trunk road system.