asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether, since the British Transport Commission has now reported that the scheme of their London Plan Working Party for the expenditure of £340 million on the further improvement of rail transport in the London area is not economically justifiable from the transport angle and must be financed from sources other than their own, he can give an assurance that before any final decision is taken he will arrange for a comprehensive and impartial examination of the London transport problem as a whole, including transport by road as well as by rail;
(2) how many planning authorities are involved in the preparation of an adequate road system for the London area; by what date he expects that these plans will be sufficiently developed for him to form a definite estimate of the cost involved; and to see what action is necessary to co-ordinate the proposals with those of the London Plan Working Party of the British Transport Commission.
asked the Minister of Transport whether he can give an assurance that steps will now be taken to produce a fully co-ordinated road and rail plan for London so that when the economic situation permits such money as is available may be divided over each category in order to ensure the best overall arrangements.
As I have already informed the House, the Government have fully in mind the need for co-ordination of rail and road plans for London and no proposal for a major change in either road or rail facilities is considered without taking alternative forms of transport fully into account. A comprehensive road and rail plan should emerge from the preparation and approval of development plans for the Greater London area by the 10 planning authorities concerned. Coordination of the road and rail aspects will take place as a continuing process in the preparation of these plans. It will be several years before the development plans are sufficiently firm to enable a definite estimate to be made of the capital expenditure.
I should certainly like to do so, but, as the hon. Member is aware, until the other planning authorities—the local authorities—are able to complete their plans, it is very difficult for me to form any definite estimate or to give any direct guidance.
Will my right hon. Friend see that priority is not given to the London area, on the basis of its being London, without having regard to the needs of provincial centres, as was illustrated by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) in his earlier Question today?