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Volume 604: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2016

5. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly on the contribution of the M4 to the economy in south Wales. (902943)

We regularly have discussions on a range of issues, including transport infrastructure. The M4 is one of Wales’s vital arteries. The need for an upgrade was identified decades ago by business leaders as a No. 1 priority.

The Minister will surely be aware that the ongoing delays on the M4 are causing problems for the economy in south Wales. Will he outline what steps he is taking to enable the Welsh Assembly Government to make improvements to this vital piece of transport infrastructure?

It is hard to believe that the former right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks was Secretary of State for Wales when the upgrade was first committed to, only for it to be cancelled by Labour Members. It was reconsidered later by a Plaid Cymru Welsh Government Minister, only to then be cancelled. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made additional resources available, and we just want the Welsh Government to get on with it.

In the light of the serious flooding caused by climate change, will the Minister ensure that the newly proposed M4 relief road will double as a flood defence for the Severn estuary?

The route is a matter for the Welsh Government, and we encourage them to consider all options. We want the project to start as soon as possible. Even if it started to the earliest possible timescale outlined by the Welsh Government, it would still not be completed until the end of 2022, which is unacceptable.