§ 8. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement about extension to the M63 in Stockport.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Construction of the M63 Stockport east/west bypass between Cheadle Heath and Portwood is 442 under way and is proceeding satisfactorily.
§ Mr. Bennett
Is the Minister aware that there have been one or two unfortunate accidents as the result of the contractor's activities along that section? Will he confirm that my constituents in the Cheadle Heath area have made a considerable number of complaints about the contractor's behaviour? Will he ensure that no more accidents take place and that there is better liaison between the contractor, his Department, the road construction unit and local residents in order that any inconvenience may be minimised?
§ Mr. Clarke
The construction of any major road is bound to lead to some disruption. Although everything possible is done to avoid the possibility of accidents, occasionally they occur. There is a liaison officer on the project who is meant to handle individual complaints. I shall follow up any complaints that are passed on to me by the hon. Gentleman or by any hon. Member. We are following up every complaint that we hear about. I am led to believe that arrangements between the engineers, the liaison officer, the RCU and the local community will improve.
§ Mr. McNally
Perhaps the Minister did not hear Monday's debate on the North-West—in which case he should read it. Is he aware that the completion of this road is crucial to the economic and industrial future of the whole of south Manchester? Does not he accept that his Department has prevaricated about the future of the M63? Will he assure us that he is not losing some serious debates in Cabinet about its future completion?
§ Mr. Clarke
We are not prevaricating about that stretch, but building it. Indeed, that is what has given rise to complaints in Stockport. The extension from Portwood to Denton is planned, and there is no doubt that it will go ahead. The hon. Gentleman will have to await the arrival of the White Paper for exact details of its timing. In addition, we have just announced the preferred route for the remainder of the road. The motorway box round Manchester remains one of our highest priorities and should not be delayed by any financial constraint.