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companies? That is the sort of complaint that I get, especially during the spring and summer. Perhaps the Minister or the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, West will comment on that.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman's intervention was too long. Perhaps he was not in the Chamber when I gave a warning about such abuse.

Mr. Skinner: The Bill is not about the cases to which my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) referred; it is about the people who run the insurance companies. No one should get the impression, even if some Tory Members try to give it, that because I oppose the Bill and am asking some serious questions, my action will adversely affect people who are insured with companies in Britain. The Bill will not bail out any of the people to whom my hon. Friend referred. It will not bail out anybody who has insurance with British companies.

The Bill is all about insurance companies saying to Tory Members and the Government, "We want a nice cosy arrangement. Forget about market forces; operate double standards and allow us to roll over the reserve funds in an orderly way." Of course, that would mean regulation. I am not against regulation; I am a member of a party that believes in intervention in the market. However, it is a bit rich that the very Tories who ram down our throats every day the belief that we cannot intervene because the Government do not have the money to do so--it is taxpayers' money--are then prepared to pass a Bill that will enable insurance companies to operate a nice little fiddle.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam): The hon. Gentleman is trying to wreck the Bill. Does he realise that, if he does so, he will have on his conscience the fact that he is putting at risk not only 60,000 jobs in London, but 350,000 nationwide? Is it not sheer hypocrisy to try to crack the Bill when he should be safeguarding jobs?

Mr. Skinner: That is a bit rich coming from the hon. Lady, who last year had to apologise to the House for her actions in almost single- handedly--of course, the Minister helped--stopping the progress of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill. She came to the House with what she purported to be her own questions, which turned out to have been written by the Government. Yet she accuses me of wrecking a Bill when all that I am doing is pointing out that the Government have double standards.

As I said earlier, the Bill will not affect a single insurance job. It will not affect a single policy. It is all about arranging things in favour of the bosses of the insurance companies so that they can get increased directors' pay and all the rest of it. Tory Members on the boards of insurance companies might make a bob or two. I can tell the hon. Lady something else--the Bill is not just about insurance companies; it is a trailer for Lloyd's. The Government do not fool me. The Bill might seem to be innocuous, but it is all about setting a pattern so that eventually the Government or another Tory Back Bencher will come to the House and say, "Let's have another equalisation scheme, not for the insurance companies but for Lloyd's." Then they will say, "We had all-party support for the previous insurance Bill, so as a precedent has been set, we will do it again for Lloyd's." The 30


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Tory Members of Parliament, many of whom would be declared bankrupt in other circumstances, would then be let off the hook by the taxpayer.

If the Bill is passed today, the Government will be able to say that the next one will be for Lloyd's so that they can bail out their friends.

Mr. Heald rose --

Mr. Skinner: I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman because I believe that the Lloyd's briefing gives the game away and I shall refer to it in a moment.

Mr. Heald: The hon. Gentleman should be aware that his colleague, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) called for equalisation reserves in 1993 in the Committee that considered the Finance Bill. Early in 1994, in an article in Post Magazine: The Insurance Weekly , he again called for those reserves. His Front-Bench team support them, and 350,000 jobs are at stake. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is trying to talk the Bill out. I call on him to support the people of Britain and people in the insurance industry.

Mr. Skinner: Once again, to put it on the record, let me make it clear that, in relation to the Bill, no jobs are at stake for the people who work for insurance companies. What my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) said in Committee was his business. Everyone answers for themselves in here. This is a private Member's day.

The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, North gave the impression that, somehow or other, he introduced the Bill at the Government's behest. This is a Friday. Has he forgotten that? This is a day when Back Benchers introduce their own legislation. The hon. Gentleman has introduced legislation to suit his Government.

Mr. Heald: And the Front-Bench spokesman of the Labour party. Mr. Skinner rose --

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. It may be a private Member's day, but the rules still appertain.

Mr. Skinner: Absolutely right. If my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central thought in Committee that it might be a decent idea to introduce equalisation reserves, that was his business. The Bill is a trailer for Lloyd's. Why has Lloyd's sent a document around that makes it clear it supports the Bill because it is

"thought likely a tax deduction will follow."

Those are not my words; they are the words of Lloyd's. It is clear that Lloyd's has an interest in the Bill.

Lloyd's says that the Bill has no direct effect on it but it takes an interest in the developments

"in the context of its corporate capital providers. In the future, Lloyd's will be seeking to assess how any arrangement ultimately adopted by the insurance companies might be adapted to ensure parity for its corporate vehicles."

There it is. The cat is out of the bag. It is not just about the insurance companies. It is about the fact that Lloyd's has realised that a hole in the fence exists which it can eventually go through to resolve some of its problems.

Everyone knows that Lloyd's has been badly hit over the years. The result is that many Tory Members and others have lost significant amounts of money. For many


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years, there has been a campaign in the House to get the Government--the taxpayer--to foot the bill for the gamblers at Lloyd's.

Lloyd's is the posh gambling den--that is all it is. It is not like Ladbrokes, but the same principle is involved. People do not bet on horses at Lloyd's; they bet on disasters. Sometimes they have to pay out more than they expect. Many Conservative Members and many other people in Britain who are gamblers at Lloyd's lost large amounts of money. They are not like the people who go to Ladbrokes, who know that they have lost when they lose. The Lloyd's gamblers want the money back. They have decided to gamble.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Bill does not deal with Lloyd's. He must address himself more closely to the Bill.

Mr. Skinner: I tried to explain earlier that I did not think that the Bill was about Lloyd's until I got hold of the document. I then realised it had a big interest. It has decided to issue the briefing to Members of Parliament. It says that the Bill is not a bad idea, that it should be passed and that it will benefit Lloyd's if it is passed. It states:

"In the future, Lloyd's will be seeking to assess how any arrangement ultimately adopted by the insurance companies might be adapted to ensure parity for its corporate vehicles."

It seems that Lloyd's has realised the opportunity of using the Bill to move in and to call on the Government to give it the same sort of treatment as other insurance companies that are affected by the Bill.

Mr. Barnes: Is there not a sense in which the briefing shows that Lloyd's is only one of the interests involved? The assessment compliance shows that it is the insurance industry in general--of which Lloyd's is only one example--which is pressing for these measures and which clearly has support from trade and industry in saying that there will be knock-on consequences in respect of tax relief.

Mr. Skinner: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Some years ago, the Government decided to write off the banks' bad debts but they do not write off the bad debts of millions of ordinary people in Britain. Nearly every family has debts, but they do not have the opportunity to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to write them off because Aunt Annie will not pay them. However, when the banks ask for their bad debts to be written off and set against tax relief, the Government say yes. It has cost the British taxpayer £5,000 million over 10 years to bail out the banks, and the same principle is at work here.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: This grotesque display of ignorance and prejudice would be amusing if it did not put so many jobs at risk. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will apologise to all my constituents who will be made redundant because of his blind stupidity this afternoon.

Mr. Skinner: I know that Tory Members do not like what I am saying-- I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman might have to declare an interest- -but no jobs are at risk. In any event, the Tories have a cheek talking about jobs being put at risk when they have closed the shipyards and nearly every pit in the country. There are 4 million people out of a job, even taking into account the


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fiddled figures, yet the Tories have the cheek to claim that they are worried that some insurance jobs might be put at risk. The Bill has nothing to do with jobs. If anyone is stupid it is the hon. Gentleman, who does not understand what this is all about. The Bill is a trailer to enable Lloyd's to offset some of its debts and make taxpayers pick up the tab later. That is one reason why I oppose the Bill. I am not satisfied with the Government's answers. I have asked the Minister two or three times to stand up and say that under no circumstances will there be a call on public funds when the Inland Revenue and the Government decide to roll over the reserves in respect of tax relief. He has not answered.

I understand what the Bill is all about. It is not about jobs but about looking after the directors of insurance companies, many of which are represented on the Tory Benches. I have not heard any Tories declare an interest--perhaps they do not have any--but it is odd that the Government are always looking after insurance companies and banks and now want to look after Lloyd's. Why? Because Lloyd's is their friend. The Government then accuse us of standing up for the workers, the real creators of wealth in Britain.

Mr. Barnes: It is doubtful whether the Bill is an attempt to deal with catastrophes. Catastrophes, some caused by the weather, occur regularly in this country--for example, recently in Bradford. If there were a genuine attempt to help in this respect, would not the Bill be linked to, for example, the Bellwin rules and at what point they are triggered so as to provide money to local authorities and others to help in such cases?

Mr. Skinner: Millions of people are affected by tragedies and not bailed out. In the past two days, some of my constituents have had their electricity supply cut because of the snow, but the Government are not concerned about them. They are concerned only about looking after their friends. I call again on the Minister to stand up and to tell us whether the Bill will involve a call on public funds. Will he answer yes or no?

Mr. Heald: I do not think that I need to say anything further at this stage.

2.29 pm

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East): A number of questions need to be answered. There are some peculiarities in the document to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) referred which should be fully pursued. It is interesting that, although there are so many private Members' Bills on the Order Paper today, some of which have not been reached, this Bill is the only one that applies to Northern Ireland. Generally, I am all for measures being applied to Northern Ireland. I should like to know, however, why in this case--

It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned. Debate to be resumed on Friday 3 February.

Mr. John Greenway: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said that no Conservative Member had declared his interest. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, were in the Chair when I declared my interest. I also declare that what


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we have just seen is the true face of the Labour party. The Leader of the Opposition should not be in Leeds trying to persuade people that the Labour party has really changed.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Hon. Members will be aware that it is the responsibility of the individual Member concerned to declare an interest, if there is one. In the absence of such a declaration, one must suppose that no such interest exists.

Mr. John Whittingdale (Colchester, South and Maldon): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have been in the Chamber since 9.30 am so that I could support the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Heald)--not because I have any involvement in the insurance industry, but because I want to protect the jobs of my constituents who work in the insurance industry. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) deliberately to talk out a Bill that is supported by his own Front-Bench spokesman and by everyone else in the House today?

Madam Deputy Speaker: If the hon. Member for Bolsover had not been in order, I would have intervened.

CHARITIES (AMENDMENT) BILL

Order for Second Reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 3 February.

HOME RULE (SCOTLAND) BILL

Order for Second Reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 17 February.


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WATER CHARGES (AMENDMENT) BILL

Hon. Members: Object.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Second Reading what day?

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East): On behalf of the hon. Member concerned, Friday 3 February.

CHANNEL TUNNEL RAIL LINK BILL

Ordered,

That Mr. Jamie Cann, Mr. Den Dover, Sir Anthony Durant, Glenda Jackson and Mr. David Tredinnick be members of the Select Committee on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill.-- [Mr. Wells.]

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Ordered,

That, at the sitting on Wednesday 1st February, the Speaker shall not later than Ten o'clock put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motions in the name of Mr. Secretary Gummer relating to Local Government Finance; and those Questions may be decided after the expiry of the time for opposed business. Ordered,

That, at the sitting on Thursday 2nd February, the Speaker shall not later than Seven o'clock put the Questions on the Motions in the name of Mr. Secretary Lilley relating to the draft Social Security (Incapacity Benefit) (Transitional) and (Incapacity for Work) (General) Regulations 1994.-- [Mr. Wells.]

SPECIAL STANDING COMMITTEE

Ordered,

That, during its consideration of the Children (Scotland) Bill, the Special Standing Committee may meet between the hours of one o'clock and half-past three o'clock in the afternoon.-- [Mr. Wells.]


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A13

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

2.32 pm

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay): I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to discuss in the House the fate of the A13, a major highway. I declare an interest. I have the dubious pleasure of driving up and down this very congested road every time I visit my constituency.

I apologise for the absence of my hon. Friends the Members for Basildon (Mr. Amess), for Rochford (Dr. Clark), for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) and for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), all of whom would have loved to be here this afternoon because their constituencies are equally affected by this important road. They had prior engagements in their constituencies, but they are, of course, here with us in spirit. They all agreed that, with my competence and the Minister's tolerance, we would be able to sort the matter out amicably between us.

I seem to have spent half my life in Parliament talking about transport problems in south Essex. There is the infamous London, Tilbury and Southend railway, which we nominated as the misery line. In the winter, other railways are held up by leaves on the line. The LTS is the only line that used to get held up by dead sheep on the line, which frequently caused enormous inconvenience to constituents in the area, enormous numbers of whom come up to London to work. That line, of course, has been well taken care of by the Government, who generously put £50 million into the signalling, as I recall. We very much hope that the line will soon be taken on by the private sector as one of the first of the new privatised railway lines.

There is an awful stretch of the Mile End road where the A13 comes into central London, especially between the Blind Beggar and the Brown Bear; two famous, or infamous, pubs. Again, the Minister heard our cry. Whereas before it was reduced to two narrow lanes with a street market on either side and parking and double parking at all times of the rush hour, the Minister has sensibly instituted legislation, or whatever the proceedings are, to put double red lines along that road, which will enormously improve the journey out of London for people making for the M11 and the M25, as well as the A12 and the A13. We are looking forward to those improvements. Now to the A13 itself. I was very dismayed indeed to see that the Department of Transport, which had raised all our hopes to believing that this stretch of road was about to be put right, has now told us that it is to put on hold a part of that work--the bit between Wennington and Mar Dyke, which would link the road to the M25. This new stretch of the A13 is being constructed in three parts. Incredibly enough, the middle part of that road is being built now, but the two bits which connect it to London at one end and to the M25 at the other are likely to be delayed, as I understand it. That is why I have taken the opportunity to bring the Minister to the House to explain that to my constituents, who are extremely annoyed and upset. That little bit of road in the middle will be like one of those old Essex barges that we used to put the criminals in, but without moorings. It will be


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bobbing about in the middle of the marshes where nobody can get at it or use it. I cannot think of anything more foolish.

So, like Pip, here I am with my great expectations. For many years, we have felt that it was time that Mr. Magwich, our benefactor, told us how he would improve matters for the people who live in the vicinity of the Essex marshes and want that road improved. We are all aware and I know that the Department is aware that the present A13 is totally incapable of coping with the demands of the traffic using it. For a large stretch, it is nothing more than a country road, with two lanes of traffic--one up, one down--yet it carries one of the most enormous amounts of traffic in the country. Ford motor company at Dagenham uses it. Ford's is an enormous organisation, as we know. It employs about 35,000 people, and those people rely on Ford's having good access to transport in and out of its area. I know that Ford's has talked from time to time about whether there is a need to relocate its premises simply because of the problem of getting its great trailer lorries, full of new vehicles, out on to the road and around the country.

The Tilbury docks, which are close to the A13, feed an enormous number of trailer lorries, carrying great big containers full of products all over the country. They are huge lorries and there they are, trailing along behind the Ford trailers. Also in that part of the world, there are many tips for rubbish from London, so there are great big lorries with skips on their backs on the road too. Those lorries, which incidentally distribute quite a lot of rubbish along the side of the road and make it one of the least attractive areas, are on their way to an area I have discussed in this House before: Mucking Flats, a name many motorists can be heard muttering as they are stuck behind those lorries. The journey into and out of London is made almost impossible because, almost from one end to the other, there are trails of gigantic lorries up and down that stretch of the motorway.

I have yet to mention Shell Haven, the location of the two largest oil refineries--for Mobil and Shell--in the country, which are both in my constituency. Those companies send huge oil tankers up the road. One can see the picture in one's mind's eye--a gigantic lorry with a container from Tilbury docks, followed by a Ford trailer with ten motor cars, followed by an enormous lorry carrying skips full or rubbish on its way from London, followed by a gigantic lorry carrying petrol or oil. There are processions of these lorries along the A13. I have sometimes followed a line of 50 lorries along that road. No other road in Britain is as heavily congested as that.

In addition to that, many people in Southend, Billericay and Thurrock use the road because the railway line has been so poor in the past. Many coaches carry commuters out in the mornings and back at night. If I am painting an horrendous picture of that road, I promise the House that I am not exaggerating in the slightest. Lakeside is one of the most widely used shopping areas in the country and Lakeside is just off the A13. On Sundays, the world and his wife come to Lakeside. They come from Kent in great hordes across the bridge and they cross the river through the tunnel. They come from London and they come from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and Oxford. It seems that the whole country comes down to Billericay and Thurrock to use Lakeside. On Sundays, when we might expect a rest from the traffic on the A13


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so that we can nip around quickly, we run into all that traffic. The traffic is almost worse on a Sunday now than it is in the week. The A13 is a crucial link and a crucial part of the economy of our country and it handles enormous volumes of traffic. If ever a roadway needed to be built in a hurry, this is it. I hesitate to suggest to my hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London that he might get a bit of money from the European Community for all this.

I take my holidays in the south of Portugal. In the past two years, the Portuguese have built a road from Faro practically to the end of the west point in Portugal, Cape St. Vincent. They built that huge stretch of road in two years with European money. We have been waiting since 1964 for our piece of road. Although it goes against everything I believe in, if the Minister is short of money, perhaps he should go to Europe cap in hand and see what he can get out of them; anything to get the road built.

The population of Essex has increased enormously in the past few years. As it is such a vibrant area with lots of jobs, thanks to the Government's economic policies which keep Essex in very good heart, we need to increase road provision generally in Essex, because an awful lot more people have moved in. In the past two decades, the population has increased by about 50 per cent. To illustrate that point, after the war there was only one Member of Parliament for the whole of the area, but there are now nine. That shows how much the population has increased. However, we still have this old two- lane-wide country road to service those people and their needs. We do not need to persuade the Department of Transport because it carried out a study in 1990. It said:

"traffic flows, between 25,000 and 50,000 vehicles per day, and a very high commercial vehicle content"

used that road. It stated that, unless work begins soon, there is little doubt that the increase in traffic wishing to use this piece of roadway will cause grave deterioration in conditions, not only along the trunk road, but also on those routes which are perceived by drivers as a way of avoiding the A13. That involves drivers nipping around the back streets and disturbing residential areas. The people of Essex have had to cope with the problem for much too long. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister because the existing improvements incorporate plans to minimise the impact on the environment. In fact, the new piece of road goes through land which is not used for anything because it is reckoned to be industrially polluted. We are not disturbing the environment by building the road. There are practically no objectors to it. That must be a miracle in this country because, if one wants to build a new road, one can reckon on 10 years of people sitting in trees to try to stop the road being built. There are no trees in Essex, so no problem. The Minister has carte blanche from the environmental lobby. Even the greens are on our side for a change.

By moving the road into that part of the world, we are improving the air quality. All those horrid exhaust pipes, which I hope we will clean up one day, will squirt out their noxious gases down in the Essex marshes, where there are probably a few wild birds to disturb, but apart from that they will cause no disturbance. There will be no cyclists to get in the way, and so on. It is a very important road.


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My hon. Friend the Minister will be aware of all those arguments. I know that he is enormously sympathetic. I have the greatest admiration for the way in which he has taken on board other complaints that we have made, particularly, as I have said, about the Mile End road and other parts of the area. The improvements that we need, which have been on the drawing board since 1964, are absolutely essential.

The Department report asserts:

"The benefits of the proposals . . . reflect the Government's policies"

for the improvement of the economy as well as taking vehicles off congested roads. I could not possibly have said it better. I might have more sympathy with the Department if the plans had come up against obstinate local resistance, but, as I have said, there is none. No resistance exists; the road is essential; the plans have been laid; and we were looking forward to the second part of the road starting this year. We then received the awful news that the project was being put back.

In February, the Department announced that, despite cuts in work on the Wennington to Mar Dyke improvement, which is the piece that will link it to the M25, it would begin in 1994-95. I much regret to say that that urgent work, which has brought me here today to discuss the matter, is absolutely vital. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to give all those involved in making the decision a good talking to and a flea in their ear, because there is not a more deserving section of the country or of our roadways that needs his attention. I look forward to his having an opportunity to reassure me that, after all, my plea has made him change his mind and that that bit of roadway will be started straight away.

2.46 pm

The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris): I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) for introducing the debate, because it gives me a chance to record the present position with regard to the A13 between Dagenham and Mar Dyke.

I am not terribly good on Dickens, but I am probably right in saying that Mr. Magwich possessed a substantial criminal record. I hope that my hon. Friend will not mind, therefore, if I am less than enthusiastic about the appellation. However, this is not the first time that that has happened to me. Not long ago, I launched a vessel on the Thames called the Ebenezer Scrooge. There were those who were unkind enough to interpret that as a description of the Government's economic policy. I pointed out to them, of course, that Scrooge saw the light at Christmas and turned out to be a very nice chap after all.

Who knows, if we can use Dickens as our base, there may be hope for us all in what I agree with my hon. Friend it is an important matter. Its importance is reflected in the representations that I have also had from my hon. Friends the Members for Rochford (Dr. Clark), for Basildon (Mr. Amess), for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor) and for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire). All of them have spoken to me about that road.

I hope that my hon. Friend, therefore, will allow me to address one or two points about transport needs in south Essex generally. She rightly said that it is of great interest to all of us. I say "us" because I have the honour to represent an Essex constituency. Incidentally, my hon.


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Friend is right about the London, Tilbury and Southend line. It is no longer a misery line. It has been hugely improved. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities of privatisation, a matter on which my hon. Friend and I strongly agree.

In that context, one of the things that my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford said to me only yesterday was that we always seem to have been the poor cousins. He made the point--my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay also mentioned it--that, whereas from every other point of the compass the roads into London tend to be substantial dual carriageways, for an awful lot of its length the A13 is a single carriageway. I know that myself because my excellent constituency secretary Tricia Gurnett lives in Grays, and therefore I frequently have cause to sit behind Ford trucks, waste trucks and so on in the endless line which my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay described. I have every sympathy with her predicament.

Therefore, I shall make some things clear and put them on the record. In her letter to the Secretary of State immediately she learned of the settlement my hon. Friend started by saying that the Government "absolutely cannot" abandon the extension of the A13. That was in her usual graphic style. Let us be quite clear--the A13 is not being abandoned. The schemes are there, and they are important. We are talking about the phasing of the schemes, and that is a point to which I shall return.

Bluntly, there is no easy answer. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be the first to recognise--she has constantly preached the message herself--that government is often a process of making some hard choices. She and I would agree that, in terms of the Government's macro-economic policy, the most important thing is to make sure that we reduce the burden of taxation on business. In attempting to do that, the most important thing is to control Government spending. From the little experience which I have of Government, I have to say that controlling Government spending is never going to be easy.

Churchill talked about everyone believing in reductions in general, and expenditure in particular. The transport analogy to that is, in my experience, that every hon. Member believes in abandoning the roads programme except in his own constituency, where there always happens to be a scheme of absolutely superlative quality. I shall not disguise from my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay that none of the decisions that the Secretary of State was obliged to make around the time of the annual settlement was easy. The A13 was not the only scheme that we were not able to take forward at a pace that we would have liked. I say genuinely to my hon. Friend that the A13 is a scheme to which we attach a great deal of importance. I shall say a word on the other schemes in Essex which concern my hon. Friend and her colleagues. The A130 is one such scheme, and again many people in south Essex are extremely concerned about it. The council has put in bids in each of its last three transport policy and programme submissions for the A130--a route that crosses the A13, linking Canvey island with Chelmsford and the A12. It is a very large scheme. Stage 1 is estimated to cost some £44 million and the whole project amounts to more than £100 million.

That makes it a daunting scheme and, bluntly, one which--in terms of financing a new project of this size from the local transport resource--is very difficult to see


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happening in the immediate future. It might be better to consider the A130 as a potential trunk road, in view of the strategic importance that Essex rightly bestows on it. I have asked for that proposition to be pursued. We must not get caught in a bureaucratic bind in which it is said that the A130 is not a trunk road, so it must be financed from the local settlement, but as it costs more than £100 million, it is too much for the local settlement, so it is constantly deferred out of the local settlement itself. We must break that administrative log-jam, and I am certainly keen to ensure that we do what we can, although the project still represents a great deal of money.

The A120 is a scheme which is of considerable importance to hon. Members in that area. That is the road that copes with the pressure from Stansted and brings relief to local communities. It is being developed by Essex with the aid of a 100 per cent. grant from my Department. We hope to republish the orders after they are reviewed later this year. Once the statutory procedures are completed, construction can begin as soon as funds are available. We understand how disappointed people are about the delay, but the county council--as the developing authority--will have to decide how best to proceed.

My hon. Friend mentioned Lakeside. As she knows, the Highways Agency has let a commission to look at the improvement of capacity of the M25 junction 30 with the A13 and the M25 junction 31. This includes the second stage of the Lakeside development A13 link roads funded by the developers, who have entered into a formal agreement with the Department for this purpose. That would have the effect of increasing the capacity of the A13 to improve access from the shopping centre and from the M25. Various options will be investigated before the proposals are published at a public consultation in about 12 months.

I shall not narrate the points that my hon. Friend made about the importance of the A13 trunk road except to say that it is, indeed, a corridor which provides one of the main opportunity areas around London for expansion and new jobs. The draft Thames gateway planning framework, which was published last September, identified a number of major development sites on the north bank of the Thames. As well as the Royal docks, they include the former Beckton gasworks, Barking reach, Rainham marshes and the Grays waterfront. Accessibility is one of the major constraints in attracting investment into these large sites. So we see the A13 improvement as important in that context. It is also simply one of the most important radial routes into London from the east. It will provide a fast, safe road from docklands to the M25. It is a vital transport link to the developments which have already taken place or are in hand. My hon. Friend and I are familiar with some of them, but there will be benefits to the communities of Dagenham, Rainham, Purfleet, Mar Dyke and others further to the east.

So the issue is how the scheme is being taken forward. The history of it so far is, as my hon. Friend suggests, that there are three sections. They are Thames avenue to Heathway, Heathway to Wennington and Wennington to Mar Dyke, running from west to east. The schemes for the improvement of the Heathway to Wennington to Mar Dyke section of the A13 were first published in 1988. New orders for dual three-lane carriageways were published in March-April 1990. The proposals were then


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