My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government when it is proposed to construct the Malton by-pass on the A64.
My Lords, as soon as resource constraints on road expenditure permit.
My Lords, has the noble Baroness taken into account the fact that the three projected by-passes on the A64 are really one scheme? To go ahead with the York and Tadcaster by-passes and postpone the Malton one is going to make traffic congestion in Malton quite unmanageable and frustrate the Government's own policy of encouraging industrial development in the Scarborough, Whitby, Malton area.
My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord says, that the Malton by-pass is in effect part of one continuous scheme and that there will be problems and congestion; but because of the limited funds available other schemes in the national network have an even greater priority.
My Lords, would my noble friend be able to give an assurance that when finance is again available this Malton by-pass will go ahead before expenditure on further motorways is embarked upon? Is my noble friend aware that this is a scheme that has been pressed for very many years? The traffic from the West Riding and the industrial traffic going to Whitby and Scarborough via this old market town, with its narrow streets, its crossroads in the centre where there are traffic lights, and then over the railway and river bridge, creates very difficult congestion, and there is a case for a first priority to be given as soon as finance is available.
My Lords, I thought I had made it clear in my original Answer that as soon as the resource constraints on road expenditure permit, this will be one of the schemes that will be carried out.
My Lords, has the Minister considered that one of the things that the country is being asked to do is to economise in fuel? If the Minister could see the build-up of traffic coming from the Leeds, Bradford, York area into Malton, especially during the summer months, she would see that the expenditure on the road might well be offset by the economy in fuel.
My Lords, my Department has looked at all the schemes. This scheme will cost about £6½ million. It was formerly due to start this month, and tenders had been invited when the July cuts came. Since the announcement of the deferment we have had made very plain to us by the local action groups, and all other people, the difficulties that will prevail if this part of the scheme is not able to be carried out. In the announcement of the deferment of the schemes my right honourable friend in another place said that this one was included, which meant that it was set back by one to two years, with an approximate starting date of 1978. But that, we hope, is a pessimistic date, and as the resources become available we hope to be able to speed up the start.
My Lords, may I say that if I ask any of your Lordships next year to come up and stay for a weekend, if you come by road you will not arrive until Monday morning?
My Lords, could the Minister say whether the Government considered applying to the Regional Fund of the EEC for help on this by-pass?
My Lords, I have no information on that score. If the noble Lady would like to put down a Question I will get the information and let her know.
My Lords, could the noble Baroness say in what year this Malton by-pass was first conceived?
My Lords, a long time ago.
My Lords, it went into the trunk road preparation pool in February 1967. Presumably a lot of protest has been made from all sides since then, but it did go in the trunk road preparation pool in February 1967. We appreciate that there is a bottleneck, we appreciate all the problems to the commercial and holiday people, and we will do our best; but we must have the money first.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Conservative Party are always shouting for cuts in expenditure by the Government, yet they are now pleading for extra money to be spent. This is while they are shouting outside that the Labour Party are not making sufficient cuts in capital expenditure.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his support. We have had to look at our priorities. Malton, regrettably, is not one of the highest priorities. We will do the job as soon as possible.
My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that my head is positively stuffed with good ideas, all of which would greatly improve the country but many of which would cost a great deal of money? Is she also aware that I shall inflict none of them on her or any of her friends while the country is in its present state?
My Lords, a very laudable statement.
My Lords, will the noble Baroness realise that this scheme started 47 years ago, when it was costed at £100,000? Forty years ago it was accepted by the local highway authority at a cost of £200,000. It is really false economy to put off what must be done in a very short period of time.
My Lords, I cannot be held responsible for something which Governments before the one of which I am a member had an opportunity of doing.
My Lords, will the Minister take note of the fact and assure me that the Government are aware that a world shattering event has happened today? When the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, has to ask the Government to do something like this about roads around Malton, matters must be very bad indeed.