Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
100. Encourage people to live closer to their
work and to their shopping and to their leisure?
(Mr Rickett) Yes; well, as you will see by looking
at the table, we have not made an analysis of what happens if
that assumption does not turn out to be right. I could ask my
modellers whether their model is now capable of giving you that
answer. We certainly sought to work into the Plan Analysis some
estimate of what the changes in planning policy for housing, which
imply concentrating housing on redeveloped land, what effect that
would have on travel patterns and on congestion.
101. What happens if we do not get more rail
(Mr Rickett) If we do not implement the Plan provisions
on rail freight then we lose about 2.5 per cent of the congestion
reduction in the Plan.
102. What about the present problems with the
Channel Tunnel, does that have any significant impact; it is certainly
cutting the amount of long-distance freight travel?
(Mr Rickett) (A) I hope we can sort them out; and
(b), if I remember rightly, the SRA says that, of the 80 per cent
forecast increase in rail freight, about 5 percentage points of
that comes from the Channel Tunnel. So it is not an enormous part
of the 80 per cent, but I hope we will have sorted it.
103. Mr Rickett, this is a policy document,
and it makes a number of assumptions, some of which we find difficult
to understand, but that is undoubtedly a fault on our part; some
of which seemed to depend on a number of variables which will
not only be reviewed during the period of the ten years but appeared
to be in play already. Now can I ask you, do you accept that this
Plan benefits people broadly in line with their share of total
distance travelled; which means, in effect, the richest of the
country, because they travel the furthest distances, in most cases,
will benefit far more than those at the bottom of the scale, who
will not benefit to the same degree and in the same manner?
(Mr Rickett) I would not disagree with the thought
that you are putting forward.
104. Not my thought, Mr Rickett, let me quote
(Mr Rickett) There is not quite the extreme language,
if I might put it that way.
105. Let me quote to you what you say.
(Mr Rickett) We recognise this is a Plan about improving
transport for those who use it most, and therefore it tends to
benefit the better-off, which is why we have the Social Exclusion
Unit helping us with a study on Transport and Social Exclusion,
so that we can address that issue. And I hope that we will be
able to work the conclusions of that study into the revised Plan.
106. So when we are actually assuming, although
it is not possible to model the distributional impacts, nevertheless,
simple assessment suggests all income groups benefit, and then
it goes on to say those, in effect, who do the most travel get
the greatest benefit; although there you actually say that, your
reliance on assisting the incomes of the lower quartile incomes
is on the Social Exclusion Unit?
(Mr Rickett) No; there are plenty of measures within
the Plan that will benefit lower income groups, and measures such
as the Urban Bus Challenge, that we have introduced, for instance,
are targeted specifically at those groups. All I am saying is
that we did recognise that we needed to do more on that, and that
is the purpose of the Social Exclusion Unit's study.
107. When you were doing the cost-effective
analysis, why did you not use reductions in passenger hours, you
used average, annual, centrally-funded spend for every vehicle
hour saved; why did you not talk about passenger hours?
(Mr Rickett) We were trying to assess the relative
value for money of different measures in tackling congestion,
which is why we talked about pounds per vehicle hour saved. We
then go on to point out, in the next column of that table, what
the other potential benefits of these measures are. And, certainly,
when we were making our decisions about allocating spending to
the different modes, we did not look just at pounds per vehicle
hour saved, we tried to look at a wider measure of value for money
that covers pollution, congestion and, indeed, all the cost/benefit
analysis. That is the allocation of resource at a high level.
The actual projects and schemes that will be brought forward under
this Plan will, of course, all be subject to their own value for
108. How long will it be before you do a review
of your Plan, Mr Rickett?
(Mr Rickett) We are engaged in a review, as you know.
109. So, we have published the Plan, we are
now doing a review. Will you make sure that the Lord Birt sees
that review before he takes any decisions?
(Mr Rickett) Yes. He is working closely with us, we
are working closely with him, so we are sharing. I would not want
to duplicate things.
110. How many meetings have you had with the
(Mr Rickett) Oh, goodness, I see Lord Birt almost
111. Every week; gosh.
(Mr Rickett) There is a formal steering group for
his study, which I sit on; but I am in regular contact with his
112. Who is represented on the formal steering
(Mr Rickett) As you might expect, at least the Department,
the Treasury and the team itself; but, you know.
Chairman: No, I do not know; that is actually
why I was asking. I have difficulty understanding this.
113. Can I just clarify; does this mean that
Lord Birt is actually involved in the review of this Plan, and
that his efforts are not simply confined to beyond the Plan time?
(Mr Rickett) No. We are carrying out the review of
the Plan, we are responsible for that.
114. But you are talking to him about it, that
review of the Plan?
(Mr Rickett) Because, if he is looking at 2010 to
2020, that is likely to provide some information that will be
useful to us in looking out to 2010.
Mrs Ellman: But is it not working the other
way on; surely, in all these regular meetings you are having,
Lord Birt has some comment to make on the review that is going
on now? Does he never comment on anything you are looking at now?
115. He never questions your assumptions, as
we do, in a vulgar manner?
(Mr Rickett) As I say, he is looking at a long-term,
unconstrained, blue-skies study of what we might be able to achieve
between 2010 and 2020. The review of the Plan is a detailed review
that will lead to decisions in the Spending Review.
Mrs Ellman: But, surely, Lord Birt's view, all
these years ahead, must see that there is some relevance of these
blue skies ahead in what is going to happen in the next ten years;
are you telling me he has no view on that time?
116. What has he got to say about the clouds,
before we get to the blue sky?
(Mr Rickett) Insofar as his review has any implications
for our 10 Year Plan then we will take account of them.
117. Well, on that helpful note, Mr Rickett,
I think I must thank you most warmly.
(Mr Rickett) Thank you.
118. I think we all feel we are quite clear
now about what the Plan encapsulates.
(Mr Rickett) Good.
Chairman: Thank you very much.