I have taken a personal interest in this project, which I regard as an important part of our infrastructure that needs to be addressed, and my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that it is moving forward. Highways England announced its preferred route for the scheme in March, and it is now preparing for the next stage of the planning process, statutory consultation, followed by a development consent order process.
Sadly, there have been 10 fatalities and 123 casualties on that road in the last four years for which figures are available, so the improvement is desperately needed. Has my right hon. Friend had the chance to evaluate the Labour party’s proposals to scrap the roads programme, which would mean hundreds of road schemes such as this never being built and motorists being hugely inconvenienced?
But that is not a matter for the Secretary of State—
Labour Members say “Hear, hear!” because they do not want to hear the truth, which is that we are putting in place schemes that will benefit road safety, that will improve journey times and that will be good for our economy. The A417 improvement is a much needed scheme that does all those things, and it will be an essential part of this Government’s future planning. It is simply a tragedy that Labour wants to scrap it.
The hon. Gentleman was ahead of himself, not for the first time and probably not for the last.