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Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83(A)(6) (Programme motions),

Question agreed to.




Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

12 Dec 2005 : Column 1204

Social Security

That the draft Jobseeker's Allowance (Jobseeker Mandatory Activity) Pilot Regulations 2005, which were laid before this House on 15th November, be approved.—[Mr. Alan Campbell.]

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Northern Ireland

That the draft Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2005, which was laid before this House on 21st November, be approved.—[Mr. Alan Campbell.]

Question agreed to.


Mr. Speaker: With permission, I shall take motions 6 and 7 together.


      European Scrutiny

That Rosie Cooper be discharged from the European Scrutiny Committee and Mrs. Sharon Hodgson be added.


That Sir Nicholas Winterton be discharged from the Procedure Committee and Mr. Christopher Chope be added.—[Rosemary McKenna, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.]


Council Tax

10 pm

Mrs. Joan Humble (Blackpool, North and Fleetwood) (Lab): I wish to present a petition drawn up by my constituent, Mr. Derek Bunting, about council tax.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons votes to replace Council Tax with a fair and equitable tax that, without recourse to any supplementary benefit, takes into account ability to pay from disposable income, such tax to be based on a system that is free from any geographically or politically motivated discrimination, and that clearly identifies the fiscal and managerial responsibilities of all involved parties.

To lie upon the Table.

10.1 pm

Mr. Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) (Con): I rise to present a petition signed by more than 40 of my constituents from Melton Mowbray and nearby, who are enraged by the burden and unfairness of the council tax, and by its doubling over the past few years.

To lie upon the Table.
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A27 (Improvements)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Coaker.]

10.2 pm

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): I am grateful for this opportunity to raise the need to improve the A27, both in and outside my constituency. I am sorry to detain the Minister this evening, but may I first congratulate him on his recent appearance on "Top Gear", and in particular on his performance as a star in a reasonably priced car? He came 15th among the celebrities, beating Sir Cliff Richard, Jordan and Vinnie Jones, but coming a full two seconds behind Dame Ellen MacArthur. His licence would not be at risk if he were to travel on the A27 in my constituency, however, because the traffic is at a complete standstill for much of the time.

The A27 runs for 68 miles along, or just inland of, the south coast. It links Portsmouth and the M27 in the west with Pevensey and the A259 in the east. It is the only defined east-west lorry route across Sussex. It is part of the south coast lifeline, giving access to the south coast ports and the channel tunnel, and it is regarded as a strategic road in Britain's transport network. Most of the A27 in West Sussex is dualled. The only stretches that are not are in Arundel and Worthing. I shall focus on the A27 around Arundel, because that is in my constituency, but I know that many of my hon. Friends are equally concerned about the lack of improvements on sections of the road in Chichester and, in particular, in Worthing.

Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): Just in case the Minister has not been down to the A27 recently, his advisers will tell him that it is faster to go through Chichester than to use the bypass, it is sometimes faster to go through Arundel than to use the bypass, and it is probably faster to go along the coast road than along the national road in Worthing, Shoreham and Lancing. Will the Minister please come and try it for himself?

Nick Herbert: I echo my hon. Friend's request; I hope that the Minister will come and see the problems for himself. He is smiling at the moment, but there is a serious problem.

Plans for the Arundel bypass were first formulated in 1985. Two decades later, the bypass still has not come to fruition. The bypass that exists runs between two sides of the town, cutting off one mainly residential half from the town centre. If one travels west on the A27, having eventually escaped the congestion in Worthing, one will get on to a dual carriageway for a few precious miles, but it simply runs out at Arundel. The flyover is there, and was ready for the dual carriageway to continue, but lies moribund.

That has a serious impact in several respects, the first of which is congestion. Traffic flows are continually rising on the A27. In the six years between 1994 and 2000 alone, they increased by 25 per cent. Traffic flows on the A27 are three to four times more than the designed capacity of the road, which causes long tailbacks. I became personally aware of that before I was elected as Member of Parliament for Arundel and South Downs, when I missed my grandfather's funeral as a result of extended delays, first at Arundel and then in Worthing. The traffic flow on the A27 through
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Arundel—a town of 4,200 inhabitants—was 27,000 vehicles a day in 2001. As the right hon. Member for North-West Durham (Hilary Armstrong), then a Transport Minister, said in 2000:

There is also an impact on safety. The accident rate in Arundel is twice the national average for the type of road and four times the national average for dual carriageways. I saw that again for myself on Friday when there was yet again an accident at Burpham junction, which is a particularly dangerous section of the existing inadequate road. The Highways Agency estimates that off-line improvements to the A27 at Arundel would prevent 425 accidents and 580 casualties over the next 30 years.

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