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MP suggests trialling higher speed limit on English motorway

An MP has suggested trialling higher speed limits on an English motorway (PA)
An MP has suggested trialling higher speed limits on an English motorway (PA)

A motorway should be used to test higher speed limits, an MP has suggested.

Conservative former minister Sir Bill Wiggin said higher speed limits would help people get to work faster and could boost productivity.

The MP for North Herefordshire said the M50 – which runs through parts of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire in England – would be “the perfect motorway” to test increasing the speed limit.

The national speed limit for cars on motorways is 70 mph.

Speaking during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on rural transport, Sir Bill also suggested ring-fencing funds raised through vehicle excise duty – more commonly known as road tax – to ensure the money is spent on roads.

George Osborne, when serving as Conservative chancellor in 2015, said he would introduce such a change in England, but the Government suggested in 2022 that it was no longer pursuing the idea.

Sir Bill told the Commons: “In order to increase productivity we ought to ensure that people get to work in and around the country faster.

“Increasing speed limits on motorways would help to do this.”

Citing the lack of evidence of the safety implications, he said: “We need to test and trial increased speed limits in line with safer cars and better brakes.

“And I suggest that an excellent place to test this would be the M50. This is the perfect motorway to try to increase the speed limit. It is short, safe, and a truly excellent motorway where we could easily monitor the safety of a higher speed limit.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, he said: “As a road taxpayer, I believe that car drivers have every right to expect that their hard-earned money will be used to maintain the infrastructure for which it was levied.

“And the mis-spending of this funding means that hypothecation is justified for road tax.

“The Treasury takes money from car drivers to fund over-paid train drivers and an inefficient Network Rail which could have been privatised years ago. More money is wasted on bus lanes, cycle paths and not very smart motorways.

“Yet the wretched potholes escape unrepaired.”

Responding for the Government, transport minister Guy Opperman said: “It is a matter for himself and more particularly his local authority and the National Highways, who govern the strategic road network, to sit down and discuss and then set the speed limits on the individual roads.

“They have the local knowledge and are best placed to do so, but it is something for the local authority to drive forwards with National Highways at the first instance.”