Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1979.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he is having with local authorities about limiting the access of large lorries to the centre of London and other major cities.
I recently discussed the problem of lorries with local authorities at a number of regional meetings. I urged them to make more extensive use of their powers under the "Dykes" Act and made it clear that we would always try to look favourably on road schemes designed to help divert lorries from sensitive areas.
I congratulate the Government on temporarily solving at least one problem "at a stroke". We are all conscious of our dependence on heavy lorries, but will the Minister remember that in normal circumstances the increasing number of heavy lorries driving through the centre of London is causing increasing congestion and annoyance?
I entirely accept what the hon. Gentleman said. He may like to know that there are now eight zones in London from which lorries are banned, that two more are to be introduced shortly and that no fewer than 28 are under consideration. This is a problem that we must take very seriously.
Does my hon. Friend accept that the construction of the Channel tunnel would relieve London and perhaps other cities of much of this heavy lorry traffic? What discussions has he had about this matter?
I think that we should have to build a few motorways and roads to deal with all the traffic from the tunnel, assuming that it carried vehicles and was not a purely railway tunnel. However, I think that that is a separate matter.
What action are the Government taking to ensure that the outer orbital road is built without any further delay? Is it not monstrous that tiny, unrepresentative minorities have been able successfully to hold up this route for so long, to the great disadvantage of 7 million people in Greater London?
If I remember rightly, the hon. Gentleman was present at a lengthy Adjournment debate one or two months ago on the progress of the M25. He will have gained a clear impression from that debate that it is the Government's No. 1 priority, because it has the top and prior call on resources in terms of trunk road building at the moment. We intend to continue to give it that priority.