It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr Liddell-Grainger on securing this debate, which has the very wide title “The strategic road network in the south-west”, and on his extremely pungent and colourful speech. I will start generally and then focus on the specific issues that he raised and the area itself.
As my hon. Friend knows, our road network is the backbone of Britain. Let me remind him and colleagues that the strategic road network, which comprises approximately 4,300 miles of motorways and all-purpose trunk roads valued at more than £100 billion, supports the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. Whatever the optics might be in terms of the percentage of road length the network represents, it is vital to the UK economy and to our current and future economic growth. Around 80% of all goods travel by road, with about two thirds of large goods vehicle traffic being transported on the network. Some 4 million vehicles use the network each day.
As my hon. Friend will be aware, this Government and the previous Government have made a strategic decision to continue to develop the strategic road network by providing extra lanes on our motorways and improving key routes, but also by investing in parts of the country that have suffered due to poor transport connections. That is why the Government are investing £23 billion in England’s roads, £15 billion of which will be spent on our motorways and major A roads.
That funding underpins what has become known as the road investment strategy, a five-year plan launched in December 2014 that sets out the schemes and funding levels from 2015 to 2020. In the five years from 2015, the Government will invest around double the capital in strategic roads that was invested in the five years from 2005. That is a record of which the Government and, in fact, all Government Members can be very proud.