The trunk road programme includes some £700 million of planned schemes in the north-west. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced on 11 March the decision to go ahead with the region's highest priority scheme—the £160 million final section of the Manchester outer ring road from Denton to Middleton.
There is a local point there on which I should not detain the House with an explanation. However, it is true that the previous Government, although full of good intentions, managed to cut the roads programme dramatically. We are delighted to be able to make sensible spending decisions, which will help to bring economic prosperity especially to the north-west, to bring environmental relief to many people living on main roads and to reduce the number of road casualties.
Does the Minister accept that the whole of north-east Lancashire believes that, for the regeneration of that area, the linking of the M65 to the M6-M61 should be done as soon as possible? Does he further accept that they disagree with his Department's view that it is not necessary for that link to be of motorway standard? There is a strong need for that link to be of motorway standard.
Will my hon. Friend give high priority to the M6 link, which would give an enormous boost to industry in Lancaster and Morecambe? I am aware of the dilatoriness of the Labour-controlled county council, which has never given that road a high enough priority. Does my hon. Friend accept that my constituents are not prepared to suffer for the council's sins?
My hon. Friend has made her point very strongly. Speaking generally, the partnership between the Department of Transport and the 107 highway authorities is generally pretty good and shows that normally local and national Government can work together.