Jesse Norman: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) on securing this timely debate, which covers an important topic. It has already been noted that he is a great expert in this area, and I pay due deference to him not only as a member of the Transport Committee but as a railway nerd of some considerable standing and expertise. We saw his expertise in the debate...
Jesse Norman: The Department is considering evidence about the strategic road network gathered by Highways England and stakeholders over the past two years, alongside responses to the consultation that took place over the winter. The Department will be announcing the decisions about which new enhancements will be included in the second road investment strategy in 2019.
Jesse Norman: This road is both dangerous and highly congested. Highways England has been carrying out a consultation on improving the missing link near the Air Balloon pub, as my hon. Friend will know, and I have recently met him and colleagues. Once the responses have been analysed there will be further consultation ahead of the preferred route announcement. We certainly hope there will be a PRA early in...
Jesse Norman: I can make no such confirmation; the hon. Gentleman knows the structure of RIS2, and we will make the announcement in 2019, but I will be delighted to have further conversations with him about the scheme in question.
Jesse Norman: I am always grateful for reminders of the importance of parliamentary accountability, and I take that cue. My right hon. Friend will recall that this is not an inexpensive scheme. We are hoping to bring it to birth, and have given it a very strong commitment and continue to do so, and we are looking for a PRA early in 2019, as I have said.
Jesse Norman: If that scheme has been placed into the RIS2 consultation it will presently be a matter for consultation with officials. I am happy to have a meeting with the hon. Gentleman, but not in any sense that puts the formal process of consultation and deliberation at risk.
Jesse Norman: Highways England has gathered evidence about the performance of the strategic road network, and future pressures on it, to inform the decisions we have taken as part of the second road investment strategy. This process of evidence gathering and public consultation has taken into consideration the idea of extending the M65.
Jesse Norman: As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, we are already investing £1.5 billion in road systems in the north-west. Of course the M65 is, in a way, a legendary road because it ends in a carpark, and no one thinks that is a satisfactory arrangement. I would welcome a further conversation with him about this, but the situation is far from straightforward.
Jesse Norman: That is something we will certainly be looking at carefully.
Jesse Norman: The Department absolutely recognises, as the Government do, the importance of clean air, and established a working group with the fuel industry and others in November 2017 to look at issues relating to the potential introduction of E10 fuel. This group has also considered the new fuel labelling requirements introduced by the alternative fuels infrastructure directive. We intend to consult on...
Jesse Norman: I can certainly confirm that we will be consulting shortly on E10 and that we are looking closely at the issue of fuel labelling, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, has to be addressed relatively quickly.
Jesse Norman: I can only salute the right hon. Gentleman’s expertise in crowbarring a question about diesel into exchanges about E10. We are taking a strategic approach. We introduced changes to the renewable transport fuel obligation earlier this year. We have changed the status of the crop cap. We are pushing for the increased use of waste-based biofuels, and we are supporting the introduction of...
Jesse Norman: As my hon. Friend will know, the A12 in London is managed by Transport for London as part of its route network. The Department for Transport consultation on proposals for the creation of a major road network was launched in December and included an indicative network of the expected future major roads. That included the A12 and A127 at Gallows Corner. We aim to publish a consultation response...
Jesse Norman: My hon. Friend has regularly and properly raised this issue. It is a matter for TfL, but I am happy to have a further conversation with him about how we can look into it.
Jesse Norman: On a point of information, the NHS was brought into policy by William Beveridge, a Liberal, and it was framed in law in a White Paper by Sir Henry Willink, a Conservative. It is therefore—[Interruption.] It ill becomes the Labour party on the 70th birthday to make a party political issue of the national health service.
Jesse Norman: I am grateful, Mr Speaker. I think I can calm the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) by giving my answer to the question asked. Highways England’s 2017 regional safety report assessed the safety performance of all the routes in the Yorkshire and north-east region, including the A19. The A19 is performing well compared with other routes of its type, but Highways England is...
Jesse Norman: As the hon. Gentleman will know, we take all issues of safety very seriously, and the same is true in the case of the A19. I have visited the A19 and seen schemes at work. We have further work planned on it, always with safety in mind.
Jesse Norman: My hon. Friend has been a tireless campaigner on this issue, and I absolutely recognise his point. This is, in law, a matter for local government. We have provided them with some funding, and I would be delighted to have a further conversation with my hon. Friend about other ways in which we could consider the situation.
Jesse Norman: My hon. Friend is right to focus on charging points. We have a large charging point network, and we are rapidly expanding it. As she knows, we have just announced a local charging infrastructure fund of £400 million. A lot of work is being done with local authorities, and I encourage her to work with us to develop further charging points in her area.
Jesse Norman: I, too, share my hon. Friend’s delight at the news about the HS2 depot. I would be delighted to meet my distinguished former colleague.