asked the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on new motorway construction in each of the past three years at constant prices.
At constant 1982–83 prices, the amount spent on new motorway construction was £285 million in 1982–83; £289 million in 1983–84; and provisionally, £295 million in 1984–85. A further £725 million was spent on construction of other national roads in the same period.
I welcome the improvement that has been made, but does my right hon. Friend feel that the new motorway construction programme is adequate? Does he not think that we need a much better motorway network if we are to move goods and materials more quickly and improve our industrial efficiency?
Overall spending on national roads has increased by 30 per cent. in real terms since we inherited the work from the Labour Government. That is a large and major contribution to improving the roads system. Within that total it is likely that more priority will have to be given to non-motorway roads, bypasses and smaller schemes as the motorway construction programme begins to draw towards its close.
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that those figures contain a considerable amount for the preparation of the Denton to Portwood motorway in my constituency? Will he now announce the date for starting work on that motorway? Will he also listen with considerable sympathy to the case presented by Tameside council for the completion of the outer ring road around Manchester, which will have a considerable impact on the area's industrial development? In particular, will he press the Minister of State to be sympathetic to the case that will be presented to her when she meets a deputation from Tameside later today?
The costs of those schemes are in the "National Roads England 1985" programme, which my hon. Friend the Minister of State announced a couple of weeks ago. I think the hon. Gentleman supports their going through the public inquiry procedure before they can commence. He will also know as well as I do that my hon. Friend is always helpful and sympathetic, as I am sure she will be when the hon. Gentleman meets her this afternoon.
What is the current average cost per mile of building a new motorway?
I should like to give my hon. Friend an accurate figure. Off the cuff figures may not be quite accurate, particularly as my hon. Friend did not specify whether he was referring to urban, semi-urban or rural motorways. I shall give him a full answer.