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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 6:18 pm, 2nd September 2013

My hon. Friend is completely right. He did a lot of work on this matter when he was the leader of Coventry city council, before he became a Member of Parliament.

I do not want to criticise the Minister for cycling. He is a good man, he fights hard for cycling and he is a keen cyclist himself. However, the Government’s response to our inquiry was disappointing to say the least. The Government have promised that

“cycling will be at the heart of future road development” and their response stated:

“The Government is committed to turning Britain into a cycling nation to rival our European neighbours.”

If the Minister answers one question in this debate, I want him to tell us how those two promises can be taken seriously when the Netherlands spends £25 per head on cycling while the UK spends just £2 per head, and when the highways budget in the UK is £15 billion, but the funds announced for cycling are just £159 million, with no dedicated funding stream that allows local authorities to plan for more than two years.

Our report makes a series of recommendations to boost cycling from less than 2% of journeys in 2011 to 25% by 2050. I ask the Minister why his Department’s response did not commit the Government to that target. We also want a national cycling champion to lead a drive for 10% of all journeys in Britain to be made by bike by 2025. As I said, the Minister fights hard for cycling and has done a good job of putting it on the agenda to the extent that it is. Although I do not want to criticise him personally, I point to the fact is that he is a junior Minister from the junior party in the coalition, so it will always be difficult for him. We need someone with Cabinet-level clout to get different Departments working together.