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Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich): Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is the first sane and sensible attempt, certainly for the past 20 years, to get a transport policy that will deliver not only safety schemes but improvements that will have an immediate economic and environmental benefit? It will be most warmly welcomed throughout the United Kingdom. The situation as regards road maintenance is now dangerous, as he will be aware, and we welcome his commitment to do something about it urgently. Finally, any Government who are prepared to put road safety, environmental planning and the commitment of ordinary householders to a peaceful life at the top of their list of action should be wholly commended.

Dr. Reid: I thank my hon. Friend, who is the Chairman responsible for transport on the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs, and whose views on those matters we always listen to with respect. I welcome her comments about a more rational balance and a planned and integrated approach. I entirely agree that far too little attention has been paid to maintenance. Finally, as I understand from a brief comment she made as she entered the Chamber that she has not yet received her letter, I am pleased to be able to inform her that one of the 15 bypasses that I mentioned is in her area and I am sure that she will welcome that news.

Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro and St. Austell): I begin by congratulating the Minister on his new role. However, in presenting the report, the right hon. Gentleman needs to be clear in his own mind whether it is an announcement of a huge cut in the road programme, as he started off by saying, or whether it is a massive increase, as his final comments to the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman suggested. The truth is that the majority of schemes have been not cancelled but delayed, and the outcome of the reviews will establish whether this is really a new deal on roads.

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Can the Minister explain why the Government, who, pre-election, described widening the M25 and the Birmingham northern relief road as "madness" have gone ahead with both? That expenditure is unwise when some important village bypasses have been cancelled. Most importantly, if this is joined-up thinking and an integrated transport strategy, can he detail how much has been saved by the postponement and cancellation of road schemes and how much is being spent on increased investment in public transport as a result of the announcement? It seems that the Chancellor has done better out of this than the new Minister and that the statement is rather more Brown than green.

Dr. Reid: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I know that he is the Liberal transport spokesman. I presume that they are as united on transport as on every other thing, so I await the six other views on transport from those on the Liberal Benches.

On joined-up thinking, in comparison with what went before, and with the Liberals, this is not merely joined-up but positively seamless. It starts with a rational review and a policy basis rather than what has happened in the past: a long list largely determined, in practice, by the Treasury and determined presentationally by choosing a number and doubling it. We want to get away from that. It involves hard choices.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned that I had talked about the volume of the road scheme. I did not claim at the end that it was a massive increase. I talked about the fantasy football league figures used previously in the Tory wish list, which sometimes had 150 schemes; they were up to 500 at one stage. If we wished to continue that, we could announce that, at some indefinite stage in the next millennium, we had 1,000 on our list and cost them at £12 billion or £15 billion like the Tories did but everyone, especially business men, motorists and the Road Haulage Association, would know that none would be delivered because they were purely presentational. We are taking hard decisions, but we believe that it is better to be honest with people than to try to delude them by presenting large numbers.

I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman has not received his letter but glad that he did not get it before asking his question. We could not start the A30 Bodmin to Indian Queens improvement, which he supports, sufficiently quickly--within the seven-year period--to make it one of the 36 roads in our targeted improvement programme. We shall give it full appraisal. After that, and the statutory procedures, it will be taken forward without delay.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish): I welcome the statement. It is particularly welcome that we are getting rid of the idea that we move traffic jams around the country. Each new bypass merely moves the jam from one place to the next. If we are to make much better use of our trunk roads, can my right hon. Friend address two problems: controlling speed and making sure that limits are observed for the safety of the people living close to roads; and ensuring that roads are not so often blocked by thoughtless parking?

Dr. Reid: My hon. Friend is Chairman of the Environment Sub-Committee of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee. He has

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expertise on both speed and parking. We are looking at those issues. There is a review of speed limits and variable speed limits.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey): I much regret that the right hon. Gentleman's first statement in his new job should be such an appalling announcement. If he cared to drive from Scotland to Portsmouth, he would find that the first traffic lights are at Hindhead. That is the only single carriageway stretch on the A3 and holds the secret to the regeneration of Portsmouth. It is landscape of international significance. The pollution and the danger to local people are appalling. The time for studies is over. The threat of tolls will be regarded with contempt by local people who already face the rat runs. Can anything persuade him, after delegations, Adjournment debates, petitions and representations from environmentalists, business interests and the residents' association?

Dr. Reid: I understand the right hon. Lady's disappointment. She had a project on what I described earlier as the large wish list. I hope that her disappointment has not jaundiced her view of my whole statement. The problem with wish lists is that they went on indefinitely without dedicated funding. They were unspecified. Perhaps one reason for her disappointment is that, for many years, her project was on such a list. It was never implemented. She was a member of the Government who did not implement it, although she had some influence with the Government and the Department of Transport. I recognise her disappointment, but all the years of Conservative Government with the project on their list are a perfect illustration of how putting presentation above substance, as they did on those matters, ultimately creates only disillusionment. The scheme could not start sufficiently quickly to be considered for our targeted investment programme. It is not completely abandoned but on hold. It will be considered in the proposed A3-Hindhead study.

Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington): Heathrow is in my constituency, and the Minister will appreciate the concern of many of my constituents that the announcement of the widening of the M25 is a trigger for building terminal 5 at Heathrow. Given that concern, and the integral link between the M25 and terminal 5, why was the widening of the M25 not referred to the terminal 5 inquiry for the inspector to comment on? Can he give a categorical assurance to the House and to my constituents that this in no way pre-empts the decision on terminal 5 development?

Dr. Reid: My hon. Friend knows that any schemes associated with Heathrow terminal 5 development are being considered at the public inquiry. This was a separate study. The decision was taken on its own merits. It was a free-standing study. It would not have been appropriate to link it in any way with another project in the same area for which a public inquiry was already under way. Junctions 12 to 15 are in the targeted programme for improvement, and the scheme will be accompanied by an effective demand management and traffic control strategy.

I realise that my hon. Friend is on the losing side of the argument on this matter, but I point out that we considered the whole scheme in great detail. He knows that there was

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a much more extensive proposal for widening the M25, large sections of which were rejected by us because of the wider considerations. We should like to have been in a position where it would have been possible to consider not proceeding with widening. That would have been a better world for all of us, but we inherited not that world but the one we got from the previous Government. On that section of the M25, the congestion is so bad and so many things have been tried that there was no alternative but to proceed.

Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire): I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman at least on inheriting and continuing Conservative policy on the Great Barford bypass and the Clapham bypass, on the decision to seek private money for the Bedford western bypass and on the go-ahead for the Tempsford flyover. However, may I ask him to clarify something in the context of this new deal, which makes us fearful that it is a new deal of less money for bypasses? Can the citizens of Great Barford expect an early start to a bypass that is necessary on every one of the five criteria that the Government have put forward?

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