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Volume 101: debated on Monday 14 July 1986

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to remove trunk road through traffic from Bath.

Trunk road traffic travelling in an east-west direction was removed from Bath when the M4 motorway was opened. We propose to provide a north-south bypass of Bath, linking the A46 and A36 trunk roads, in conjunction with the Batheaston bypass to the east of the city.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that a north-south bypass for this historic city must remain a top and urgent priority? Will he confirm that it is also the Government's priority to see that bypasses are constructed around other historic cities and villages and that the additional cost of doing that is on top of, and not at the expense of, other parts of the Government's road building programme?

I accept both parts of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. Obviously, greater relief for Bath is important. We have added to the programme 81 bypasses and relief roads for historic towns and villages since 1979 and will continue to give high priority to the Government's bypass programme. The achievement of our plans will be greatly assisted by the increase in funds available for trunk road construction. The only difficulty would come, perhaps in Bath and certainly other places, if the national roads programme were dramatically reduced to what it was between 1974 and 1979.