Transport 2000

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th February 1990.

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Dr. Thomas:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met representatives from the group Transport 2000; and what was discussed.

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

I had an informal and broad-ranging meeting with the chairman of Transport 2000 on 24 January, and I shall be meeting shortly representatives of a number of transport and environmental groups, including Transport 2000.

Dr. Thomas:

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that reply and for his willingness to meet the group. At the meeting will he pay particular attention to the correspondence between the Minister for Roads and Traffic and Transport 2000 because the Minister has clearly not stated the real status and objectives of the road-building traffic forecasts? What does the Secretary of State regard as the objectives of traffic forecasting in relation to new road-building schemes?

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

It has never been the Government's policy that all traffic forecast demands must be met. In the White Paper "Roads for Prosperity", we spelt out clearly that it would be neither sensible nor economic to remove all congestion. Like all other programmes, the roads programme is governed by what the country can afford. That has always been the case and represents no change of policy.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

Does my right hon. Friend agree that many transport organisations, including Transport 2000, are increasingly concerned about the effect of road-building programmes on the environment and about the need for a better system of compensation for those affected? Following his most forthcoming answer last time he was top for questions and the answer from the Prime Minister the following day, which was surprising in some respects, will he consider publishing a Green Paper on compensation for those affected by road-building programmes?

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

I am sure that my right hon. Friend did not mean to imply that it was unusual for two Ministers in the same Government to say similar things on consecutive days. I should have thought that that was absolutely normal. We are aware of the problems caused by blight and compensation. I am in touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I hope to have some news for my right hon. Friend in the not-too-distant future.

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Now that the Secretary of State accepts that it is impossible to have a road-building programme to meet his Department's estimate of the projected demand for the use of private vehicles, does that mean that he accepts that we shall have to restrict use of the private car, especially in our cities? Does he still believe that that is an eastern European solution, or has he now had his talk with the Secretary of State for the Environment?

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

The hon. Gentleman is as opaque about his transport policy as the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) was about his rates policy at the weekend. The hon. Gentleman is a great one for exploiting disasters. He is never happier than when he is miserable and trying to make the rest of us miserable as well. In the next three years, we have programmes for roads amounting to £5·7 billion and programmes for rail, underground and public transport amounting to £6 billion.