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Roads (White Paper)

Volume 959: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1978

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has yet concluded his discussions on the White Paper on roads.

Is the Minister aware of the deep anxiety felt by people in Havering, Upminster and similar areas about the safety of their children on the roads, the noise level in their homes from the road, and the frustrations of commuter travel to work? Will he, at long last, aim to have a debate on his White Paper on roads so that these real fears can be discussed?

We are always anxious to have debates on our White Papers. May I suggest an Opposition Supply day?

Will the Minister take time to discuss what is said in the White Paper about co-ordination between Government Departments? Is he aware that in relation to the Stroud inner ring road, for example, his Department has been giving grants for the roads to be made and the Department of the Environment has been listing buildings, thus preventing those roads from being built? Will he take an early opportunity to meet his colleague and decide which view should prevail?

The hon. Member has made a fair point. I am well aware of the problem in that case. I shall be going to Bristol tomorrow to talk to representatives of the county council concerned and I am sure that they will raise this matter with me.

Will my hon. Friend take account of the fact that, over a number of years, the condition of roads in this country has been deteriorating? Is it not time these roads were repaired to bring them up to a reasonable standard so that potholes will not damage vehicles and cause accidents?

I understand my hon. Friend's view. He will be interested to know that the spending on road maintenance throughout the country next year will be increased substantially over this year. That is after two or three years of restraint following public expenditure cuts. We are not only bottoming out, but are improving maintenance expenditure by local authorities. Maintenance expenditure by the Government on trunk roads and motorways has substantially increased anyway.