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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may say that I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe, will accept my great sympathy and, I am sure, that of my colleagues on these Benches with regard to the problem that he described. Will the Minister confirm that encouraging local planning authorities to have considerable regard to the effect on residents of the sort of development which the noble Lord described would be welcome? That is part of developing awareness of the problems described in Clause 2(3).

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Those problems need to be taken into account in land use planning as well as in transport planning. The two cannot be separated.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I very much agree with the noble Baroness. When we fulfil the 1959 aspiration of an integrated transport policy, we must recognise that that integration must not cover only different modes of transport, but, pertinently, the integration between land use planning issues and transport issues.

Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe, for raising this issue and for highlighting the fact that, as the Minister acknowledged, pollution problems can result from the development of certain forms of public transport. In promoting this Bill, it is not our intention to deny that such problems exist. However, it would not be appropriate in this Bill to include public transport in the targets for road traffic reduction.

Perhaps I may quarrel with the noble Lord on one point. I do not regard taxis as a middle-class phenomenon. In the rural area in which I live, many of us would not regard ourselves necessarily as part of the middle class--we are part of the upper class!--but we use taxis. However, as the noble Lord was once the Chief Whip of the Government which I saved in the other place, I am sure that he will help me in saving the Bill. Perhaps I may suggest that the noble Lord considers withdrawing the amendment.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to the indefatigable support that we received from the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, during our period in government. I have no intention of damaging his Bill. I am grateful also to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for her encouraging remarks and to the Minister. I hope that the air quality management measures which my noble friend mentioned will be vigilantly monitored by the Government because pollution is an important facet of this whole problem. However, given my noble friend's remarks, I shall not press the amendment and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Road traffic reduction targets]:

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 3:


Page 2, line 5, at end insert (", and
(c) the needs of business, commerce and industry.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 3 stands in my name and those of my noble friends Lord Brabazon of Tara and Lord Attlee. Last week in Committee my noble friends discussed in a grouping of amendments the point which we are considering tonight. I refer to regarding the interests of business, commerce and industry as important enough to warrant the regard of the Secretary of State in consideration of these matters.

I am sorry to weary the House with a revisitation, particularly at this late hour, but I believe that this matter is sufficiently important. In response to my noble friends

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who spoke to the same amendment, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, said:


    "We fully accept that in preparing our report we will need to take into account all the factors listed in Amendments Nos. 5 and 7 in one way or another ...


    However, we do not think it sensible to specify all those factors on the Bill. The list of factors that we may need to take into account is very large and it is neither sensible nor practicable to specify them all".--[Official Report, 19/6/98; col. 1812.]

That is the usual argument that is deployed when governments are pressed to include a great number of matters. In this case, however, in Clause 2(3) and (4), certain specific interests are included. So far no one has indicated why those specific interests are included. One of the most important areas to be considered is business, industry and commerce. My noble friend Lord Attlee made that point during Second Reading and at Committee stage. He said that transport was part of the economic life of our country. I support that. Therefore, in any discussion relating to a reduction in traffic that important section of industrial and economic life should have a seat at the table as it were. I do not think that I can put it any better than that.

The assurance given by the noble Baroness was repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, at col. 1813:


    "Amendment No. 7 relates to the needs of business, commerce and industry. As Members of the Committee will recollect, I spent part of my time this week trying to persuade the Government of the importance of the needs of business, commerce and industry in relation to the Government of Wales Bill presently passing through this Chamber".
I do not know what relevance that has to this Bill. Perhaps the noble Lord will explain that to me. He makes an interesting point and I commend him for his diligence in considering that Bill, but it has no relevance to this measure. The noble Lord went on to say:


    "The Bill before us, in common with government legislation, will take account of the needs of business, commerce and industry. We had a clear assurance from the Minister on those lines".

How are those interests to be taken into account? At Committee stage neither the Minister nor the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, gave any explanation as to how those interests would be looked after. The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, in her contribution last Friday suggested that there were plenty of other areas--she might have had in mind the Welsh Bill--in which business, commerce and industry were taken care of. That may well be so. The Minister has just made reference to the integration of various transport activities. But I do not believe that that is good enough. Here we have a small specific measure that is part of the Government's drive to make life a little more pleasant on the roads for a variety of people, but it is important that the interests that I have mentioned are clearly determined and have a place in the Bill. I beg to move.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, that transport is part of the economic life of our nation, but it also causes severe pollution and many other problems. Some modes of transport create more problems than others. It is a sad reflection that

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unrestrained good transport facilities for some cause very much worse transport facilities for others. That is where my difficulty with this amendment arises. I accept that business, commerce and industry are very important to the nation, but the amendment seeks an exclusion for the purposes of road traffic needs and suggests that there is no other way to keep the wheels of industry turning.

It is difficult to define what is meant by industry and commerce. I shall turn to that matter in a moment. If one looks at the business passenger needs of industry, often this comes down to the person with a company car. Many company cars are necessary in order for people to carry out their business, but an awful lot of cars that come into central London and other major cities are used simply as a cheap and comfortable means of commuting. That is very nice for those who use those vehicles but not very nice for others who must use some form of public transport and find the roads congested and polluted. It is an historical perk going back 20 or 30 years based on tax relief. One comes back to the ability to pay.

I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group. I do not suggest that all freight should be taken off the road and put on to rail, but rail can take an increasing share of it. However, the combination of road and rail will get the freight around the country in a perfectly acceptable way. Business, commerce and industry need good passenger and freight transport free of congestion. However, the CBI and many other groups accept that business also has obligations to the wider community. I question why business and industry should be excluded from the requirements of the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Bill.

One could lengthen the list even further and include tourism. Tourism is business. One should consider what is taking place in the national parks in England. Last week I was in Derbyshire speaking to the members of a council who were actively seeking ways to keep tourists and traffic out of the Peak District. I believe that the same problem arises in the Lake District. Often tourism and traffic congestion are not happy bedfellows and there must be a third way. As my noble friend Lord Cocks asked when speaking to an earlier amendment, what about the needs of the people without cars? Why should they not be included in the list? They require a traffic reduction to enable public transport to operate effectively. One could go on extending the list for a very long time. I would be very unhappy if this amendment was accepted by noble Lords. I believe that business and industry must take their responsibilities in reducing traffic as seriously as everyone else.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has pointed out, Amendment No. 3 would add the needs of business, commerce and industry to the list of matters in Clause 2(4) to which the Secretary of State would be required to have regard when considering how to comply with the requirements of Clause 2(1) and (2) of the Bill.

I think that the difference between the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and the Government on this amendment is really one of trust more than anything else. I suspect

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that the assurances I am about to give him he will not find any more reassuring than the assurances given by my noble friend Lady Farrington of Ribbleton at Committee stage of the Bill. However, I will repeat them because they are absolutely sincere.

In discharging the Secretary of State's duties under Clause 2(1) and (2) of the Bill the Government absolutely recognise that there are very broad considerations that will need to be taken into account and explained in the reports that are produced under those subsections. A prime example of those broad considerations are the needs of business, commerce and industry. We do recognise the importance of road traffic to those sectors and the importance of those sectors to British national life. However, as my noble friend, Lord Berkeley, has just pointed out, there is a balance that has to be struck between the needs of the economy, of society and of the environment.

There is considerable scope for striking a more sensible balance than we have at the moment, for example, by shifting more freight from road to rail and also by improving logistics to reduce the proportion of lorry trips that are empty running. This is not a situation that is set in tablets of stone. I should like to repeat to the House the assurance that my noble friend gave at Committee stage. The Government will look at all the relevant impacts of road traffic, including the impacts on industry and commerce, in considering how to comply with the requirements of the Bill.

The noble Lord asked how that would be done. I do not think that passing his amendment would give us any more indication of that than leaving the Bill as it is. I think the indication will come in the transparency of the reports that are published by the Secretary of State after his decisions under the Bill. The list of factors that the Government may need to take into account is a large one. It is broadly based and it will include the needs of business, commerce and industry. However, it is our firm view that it is neither sensible nor practical to specify all of them on the face of the Bill. I would urge the House not to support this amendment.


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