A5 Trunk Road

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 5th November 1997.

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Photo of Glenda Jackson Glenda Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment) 1:13 pm, 5th November 1997

I am delighted to hear that Railtrack and Virgin Rail are producing the desired results for Shrewsbury. The hon. Gentleman referred to the needs of the people of Shrewsbury. Those needs could be replicated anywhere in the country. The Government are concerned to create a properly integrated transport strategy in which the carriage of passengers and freight can genuinely be shared. Easy access to public transport and good interchanges between different public transport services are critical. However—to refer to my carrot and stick analogy—carrots may get us only so far. We must also look at the sticks.

Telling people that they cannot do something that they have hitherto done, or are continuing to do, will cost them more is never easy. We must also be careful that we do not cut across our objective of creating a just and inclusive society and so make mobility the province of the rich.

That brings us to the third and last option: providing new infrastructure. This is also a very difficult option, both financially and in terms of its potential impact on the environment. Circumstances vary from case-to-case. In some cases a new or widened road may be the only option. In others, it may be the best—or least worst—option. There is no substitute here for rigorous case-by-case examination of the options.

We are looking region by region at the perceived traffic problems and the roads programme we inherited from our predecessors. We regard the existence of a scheme in the inherited programme as prima facie evidence of a transport problem. Apart from the roads already under construction and those on which we took decisions in the accelerated review last July, the Government are not committed to any of those schemes at this stage.