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The review of the M1 scheme has implications for the A5-M1 link. This is because the decision on the nature of the capacity improvements on the M1 has the potential to affect the design of the A5-M1, particularly where the two schemes connect, and, therefore, the nature of the orders required. We hope to be in a position to reach a decision on the preferred option for the M1 scheme as soon as possible in 2009. Ministers are likely to receive advice in the run-up to Christmas; that may be
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why the hon. Gentleman referred to there being a decision very shortly. Once a decision has been reached on the M1, we will be in a position to confirm the proposed way forward for the A5-M1 link.

In its advice to the Department in January 2006, the East of England regional assembly proposed a timetable that included a construction start date in 2013-14. This date remains possible regardless of the outcome of the M1 review. I also understand that there is a desire in the region to see if implementation of the scheme can be brought forward. This possibility is, of course, dependent on the region’s funding priorities, the potential effect on air quality of earlier road opening, and the M1 timeline. It would, therefore, not be appropriate to offer a firm delivery timetable for the A5-M1 link at this stage. However, I recognise that the hon. Gentleman and other stakeholders wish this to be resolved as soon as possible.

On the hon. Gentleman’s later points about the Highways Agency and dialogue between partners, I can assure him that, while I am in this job, I will encourage all partners to have proper dialogue, whichever stakeholders they represent. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we, along with him and other stakeholders, see this as an important scheme and that we will do all we can to bring it to an early conclusion.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at eleven minutes to Nine o’clock.

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