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Volume 941: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will now make a further statement about the construction of the M40 motorway and the time scale involved.

My right hon. Friend will make an announcement as soon as he can. We regret the continuing delay.

Will the Minister consider the advantages of making this proposed road a dual carriageway rather than a fully-fledged motorway, because of the cost that will be saved and the advantages to people living in mid-Warwickshire, who, on the whole, are against the proposal?

Will the Minister, if he makes a favourable announcement, give a date by which the road should be completed and divide the time scale from now to then between the inquiries part of it and the actual engineeering?

I am aware that we have tried the hon. Gentleman's patience almost beyond endurance on this matter. Clearly a road of this kind, if we were to go ahead with it, would take between eight and 10 years to complete, though that would depend on how the plans were broken up. Some sections might be completed earlier than others. The actual building usually takes about two years. It is the statutory processes that take the time.

Will the Minister end 1977 on a helpful note by announcing the preferred route of the link between the M1 and the M4, in my constituency? In view of its importance to people in Bedfordshire, will he, within the next 11 days, announce the route?

I hope that we shall be able to announce the route fairly quickly. The question arises in respect not of the route but of the result of the feasibility study into this matter. It is a complicated matter, but we hope to come to a conclusion shortly.