Traffic Reduction

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 November 1996.

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Photo of Mr David Rendel Mr David Rendel , Newbury 12:00, 25 November 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to introduce new measures to reduce road traffic. [4004]

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

Our Green Paper sets out a range of measures, including new powers for local authorities to manage traffic demand in their areas, privatisation of rail passenger and freight services, support for bus priority measures and encouragement for green commuting and transport plans.

Photo of Mr David Rendel Mr David Rendel , Newbury

Does the Minister agree that it would be a good policy to try to introduce some targets for road traffic reduction? Given that 200 Members from all parties have already signed an early-day motion in support of the Road Traffic (Reduction) Bill, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) is to introduce, will the Government guarantee it a fair wind and do everything they can to make sure that it is passed?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

I am very much in favour of the inclusion of targets in local transport plans and I encourage local authorities that seek to include targets in their package bids in order to show what they expect to deliver. I have agreed to meet the hon. Member for Bath to discuss the terms of his Bill.

Photo of Mr Peter Fry Mr Peter Fry , Wellingborough

Will my hon. Friend not be seduced too much by Opposition arguments? I agree that it is right to reduce traffic where possible, but I am sure that he accepts that the Government do not want to appear to be anti-motorist. Most of my constituents, and most of his, own a motor car and expect to be able to use it in reasonable circumstances. I hope that that will be the policy of the Government.

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

My hon. Friend is entirely right: it would be folly for any Government to be anti-car and anti-motorist. We must seek to provide car users with attractive, convenient and acceptable public transport alternatives, so that they can choose whether to go by car or by public transport, which is what our policies are designed to do.

Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin

Does the Minister agree that one way of encouraging more traffic to travel by rail would be to encourage the franchising director to require potential franchisees to improve on current levels of service? Will the Minister write to the director and suggest that he reinstate the through service from Telford to London, which was lost some years ago and which was always assumed to be part of the development and growth of the new town? Should it not be part of the director's job to do such things? Will the Minister take action?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

The instructions and guidance to the franchising director include the fact that, in assessing franchise bids, he should take account of pledges to improve services over and above those included in the passenger service requirement and the existing BR timetable. The hon. Gentleman will know that, in the majority of the 13 franchises that have been let, new private sector franchisees have pledged to extend services rather than reduce them, as Opposition Members had alleged would happen.