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Roads (Expenditure)

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the 23 per cent. underspending in the English motorways and trunk road construction programme in 1978–79, what proportion of the budget is expected to be underspent in (a) the current year and (b) 1980–81.

For 1979–80 the cash limit, which applies to construction and maintenance expenditure together, will be the controlling factor. I have no reason at this stage to expect that expenditure will fall short of it or of the 1980–81 provision for these items in Cmnd. 7746. But I am keeping the balance between construction and maintenance under review.

asked the Minister of Transport what estimate has been made of the effects of cuts in road spending in current and future financial years on unemployment in the construction industry.

The employment effects of the revised figures for roads expenditure should not be measured against the previous Government's plans, which were not realistic. The present provision for motorway and trunk road construction and maintenance expenditure should lead to small increases in employment this year and next compared with 1978–79. It is too early to be certain what levels of local authority expenditure will be but if there is any fall in employment on local roads I would not expect it to do more than broadly offset the increased expenditure on this Department's roads.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of total expenditure on programmes the roads and transport budget represents.

Public expenditure on roads and transport in 1980–81 is expected to be between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. of total expenditure on programmes.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion the reduction in the roads and transport programme in 1980–81, as compared with 1979–80, represents of the total reduction in expenditure on programmes in those years.

The reduction in roads and transport expenditure in 1980–81 as compared with 1979–80 represents about 20 per cent. of the total reduction on programmes in those years. Since the Government's expenditure plans for 1980–81 provide for growth in some programmes, more than proportionate reductions have to be made in other services, including transport.