HC Deb 12 November 1973 vol 864 cc13-4
10. Mr. John Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will make a statement on the progress of the M4 in South Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

All four of the inspectors' reports on the section of the M4 between Groes and Coryton have been received, the last of them only in September. As I have previously promised, I am considering all four together and I hope to announce my decision on them early in the New Year. Tenders for the Pontardulais Bypass should be invited early in 1974, and I am giving the highest priority to the outstanding statutory procedures and preparatory work for all the remaining sections.

Mr. Morris

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the delay in completing the statutory procedures of fixing the line for the M4 is being regarded in South Wales as an alibi? It is thought that the real reason for the delay is the Government's public expenditure cuts in the summer. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the delay is causing misery to hundreds of people? How much slippage has there been in the forecast date of the starting of the road to Port Talbot and the West? Is 1976 still the operative date? It is in the interests of industry as a whole, and the steel industry at Port Talbot in particular, that the road be completed as soon as possible.

Mr. Thomas

I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman about the importance of the earliest possible completion of the M4. I can assure him that the cuts in public expediture which were announced earlier this year will have no effect on the motorway. The delay has been occasioned solely because of the protracted procedures which have had to be gone through by way of public inquiry. There has been a demand, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know about, that sections should be considered together and not piecemeal. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has taken part in the inquiries. None of the submissions which have been made has had any other effect than causing delay. My anxiety is to come to a conclusion as soon as possible and to have the end of the motorway finished as soon as possible. It is impossible now to be firm about a completion date.

Mr. Gwynoro Jones

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman apply his mind to the latter part of my right hon. and learned Friend's question? The Government and the Welsh Office in successive statements during the past three or four years have stated that 1976 will be the completion date for the Pontardulais Bypass. Will he tell us whether that still is so, and if not, why not?

Mr. Thomas

I have every hope that the Pontardulais Bypass will be finished by the end of 1976. However, because of continuing procedural uncertainties I am unable to forecast completion dates for the remaining sections. It is my intention to finish the motorway as soon as possible. There will be no delay by the Welsh Office.