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M25

Volume 86: debated on Monday 11 November 1985

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the long-term benefits of the M25 circular motorway around London.

The M25 will provide a more convenient, quicker and safer route round London for through traffic. It will give easier access to ports and airports on motorway class roads, and will relieve communities in London and the south-east of through traffic, noise and congestion. It will yield substantial economic benefits.

Apart from the benefit to millions of M25 users, is my right hon. Friend aware, if a one-day traffic count is anything to go by, that Uxbridge road, Hampton Hill, which is now bypassed by the M25, has already seen a 10 to 15 per cent. drop in volume of traffic since 1983? How much will the roads in Greater London be relieved of heavy lorry traffic?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support, and I can confirm that a recent traffic count in the area that he mentioned showed a reduction of 14 per cent. of total traffic because of the completion of the M25 to the west and south of London. Our estimate is that the M25 will reduce lorry mileage in London by between 20 and 25 per cent.

Is the Secretary of State aware that parts of the M25 near my constituency of Thurrock are still unlit and that this may be dangerous and cause accidents? Is he also aware that providing cable ducting in the course of motorway construction makes it easier and cheaper to provide lighting? Has that cable ducting been provided throughout the M25? If not, will the Secretary of State make sure that it is provided in the construction of the last part of the M25 and other motorways?

Parts of the M5 through my constituency are not lit. The criteria for lighting motorways are whether it adds to safety to do so and whether it is worth the large extra cost. I cannot tell the hon. Lady that I have noticed whether ducting has been installed in the sections to which she referred, and I shall write to let her know. We do not intend to light all motorways, only those parts where lighting increases safety.

I welcome the benefits of the M25, but is my right hon. Friend aware that there are dangers if the motorway becomes used as a race track? Is he further aware that when using it at any time of the week I find myself the only person doing 70 mph, while many cars are doing well over 100? At the very least, will my right hon. Friend speak to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about enforcement and putting up signs that read "70 mph", rather than have just a black bar across them?

I share my right hon. Friend's concern about excessive speeds on all motorways, not just the M25. My hon. Friend the Minister will be engaging in a debate on this subject soon, so that she can go into it in greater detail. We are in constant touch with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about enforcement, and we are busy considering what to do to alleviate the mounting pressures and concerns that my right hon. Friend has expressed.