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Motorway Network

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make certain the network of motorways planned for the 1980s will include a motorway between Sheffield and Manchester; and if he will make a statement.

No, Sir. On 18th February my right hon. Friend announced that proposals to build up an entirely new road linking Manchester and Sheffield could not be justified economically. I am satisfied that bypasses of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle to the west and Stockbridge and Deepcar to the east, together with selective and limited improvements to the existing A628 between the western and eastern bypasses, will be sufficient to meet traffic needs for the foreseeable future.

Is my hon. Friend aware that that is a most disappointing reply? Many people are unhappy with his Department and British Rail about the railway system across the Pennines. Has he ever driven a car or a lorry or even walked along this tortuous road across the Pennines? Will he consider including in the next programme the building of this motorway, and will he include in that consideration the provision of a good service station with a large car park so that people using the road can take advantage of the beautiful country around there?

I thought that the people who supported the rail line were in favour of the decision made by my right hon. Friend. I understood that they argued that a decision to provide a road system where a rail system already existed would have been a strange one. As for the beauty of the countryside, the whole point is that the section where a motorway will not be built includes a national park. That was one of the factors that my right hon. Friend took into account, and rightly so.

Does the Minister recognise that not all of us in Yorkshire disapprove of some of his recent decisions about motorway planning? On the point raised by the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), will the Minister bear in mind that, when he says that we should not have a motorway through a national park, it is equally worth preserving a green belt area between two metropolitan areas? Perhaps he will bear that in mind in relation to Pudsey and Dishforth.

I visited the interesting area between Bradford and Leeds, which is so important to the hon. Member, electorally and otherwise, and I looked at the whole alternative to the east-west route connecting the A1 and the M1, so I know the problems.

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people, certainly on the Manchester side, were delighted with my right hon. Friend's original announcement and were very pleased that he decided not to allow a national park to be spoiled by the intrusion of a motorway?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) for his restrained support, and I shall ignore seated interruptions.