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Road Programme

Volume 895: debated on Monday 7 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list his current order of priority for schemes in the Welsh road building programme in the light of reduced public expenditure.

We are giving priority to the M4 motorway and Britannia Bridge schemes. The order of priority of other schemes is being reviewed.

I am a little perturbed by that reply, notwithstanding my personal interest in the M4 motorway. Against the background of questions about the road programme in Gwynedd and the rural areas, will my hon. Friend give a categorical assurance that the resources which are available for road building will be spread equitably throughout the whole of Wales and not be concentrated on one or two schemes?

Our overall priority in the short term is completion of the M4 motorway. Thereafter, such resources as are available—or the majority of them—will be switched to the A55. I stress again that the Britannia Bridge project is to go ahead. Moreover, throughout Wales schemes under £1 million will also go ahead.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the fairly extensive improvements which are now taking place on the English side of the border on roads into North Wales, coupled with the total failure so far to make further progress with the improvement of the A55, will make the traffic problem along the A55 very much worse in a year or so as the larger flow of traffic comes sweeping into North Wales to meet the congestion which it will there encounter?

I take the point which the hon. Gentleman made in his opening words, but I think that he exaggerates the problem in relation to the A55, because there have recently been some very good improvement schemes there.

May I, on behalf of West Wales, pay tribute to the Secretary of State for his achievement in preserving the priority of the M4, which is the key to our industrial development?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I recollect that he himself made a contribution in that respect in an Adjournment debate on the M4 in April.

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that between 1966 and 1970 the then Labour Government in successive years reduced expenditure on Welsh roads, at a time when they were increasing expenditure on roads in England by no less than 150 per cent.? Will the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and learned Friend do their utmost in these circumstances to resist any major cuts on Welsh roads at present?

The Government's record here is good. We are well aware of the need for good road communications in Wales, especially with reference to the need to safeguard and enhance the provision of jobs.