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Volume 979: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Transport why work on the widening of the southern part of the M1 will not start this financial year as scheduled.

All action was suspended pending the resolution of a High Court challenge against the compulsory purchase order for the acquisition of the necessary land. The Department has very recently been notified that the challengers do not intend to proceed with their notice of motion. I am glad to say that we shall, therefore, shortly be able to invite tenders for the work. Unfortunately, there is not now time for the work to be started this financial year.

Given the amount of time and fuel wasted on that stretch of the motorway, will my hon. Friend ensure that work will not be delayed still further through lack of finance once the problems have been overcome?

I am well aware of the time and petrol that I waste, as do many of my constituents, every time we drive to London.

Now that we finally have the legal problems cleared up, public expenditure restraints will not hold back the contract.

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is impossible to travel on the M1 without meeting a multitude of road works? Does he not think that a special effort should be made to put the premier road in Britain into working order, if only for safety reasons?

About 15 or 20 years ago traffic demands in the neighbourhood of Watford were underestimated and the strength of the carriageway needed for modern traffic was underestimated. A great deal of work has to be done to get things in order and, as I indicated in reply to an earlier question, we are diverting some resources from new building to maintenance, in order to get the M I up to the desired standard.