Transport — 24 May 2000

[Relevant documents: The Ninth Report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1998-99, Integrated Transport White Paper, HC 32-I, and the Government's response thereto, HC 708 of Session 1998-99.]

I beg to move,

That this House notes that, while government spending on transport has fallen in comparison with the period before the 1997 General Election, taxation on the motorist has been raised to record levels, so that £1 in every £7 now spent by the Government is raised from the motorist; condemns the Government for presiding over ever-worsening congestion without any policies to deal with continuing road traffic growth; welcomes the increasing investment in transport industries that were privatised during the previous administration; laments the failure of the Government to build on these achievements and that total public and private investment levels in transport are still well below what is required by people, business and industry; and condemns ministers for failing to secure increased funding for anything except for the growing costs of running the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions which is the Government's largest and least effective Department of State.

I will have failed if in five years time there are not . . . far fewer journeys by car.--[ Official Report , 20 October 1998; Vol. 317, c. 1071.]

However, three years into his Administration, congestion on our roads is increasing. It has increased by 6 per cent. since the election and is unaffected by any of the Government's policies.

We will therefore . . . consider how national targets can best help

tackle the pinch points in transport networks that lead to congestion.

We are refocusing our approach to trunk road investment.

We commit ourselves to challenging targets and rigorous monitoring.

adequate maintenance of existing roads is our number one priority.

We will improve trunk road maintenance, making it our first priority.

Two recent surveys have shown that roads are in a worse state than they have been since the early 1970s. That is because this Government are spending less on road maintenance than the Conservatives did.

We are already . . . investing more in public transport.

We had a wide-ranging discussion of issues of mutual interest including transport.--[ Official Report , 22 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 324W.]

I concede that it--

has been successful in many respects under privatisation--

and as a result of it. I think that we all acknowledge that there has been a great deal of innovation in the industry and a greater focus on customer care.--[ Official Report , 10 May 2000; Vol. 349, c. 921.]

I have been a defender of the public sector . . . but it costs a great deal more than the private sector.

I have never accepted "public good, private bad".--[ Official Report , 9 May 2000; Vol. 349, c. 710-715.]

The Department's achievements . . . have largely been confined to the publication of documents and policy statements and the establishment of task forces. As yet, there have been few tangible improvements.

What has happened since then? The answer is, not much. We have heard only that the Deputy Prime Minister has been stripped of his responsibilities for transport. They have been handed over to Lord Macdonald, who will produce a 10-year transport plan. That seems to be more of the same.

we will publish the plan when it is ready.--[ Official Report , 16 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 89W.]

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

welcomes the fact that the Government has substantially increased spending on transport from the levels planned by the previous Government; notes that this Government ended the automatic fuel duty escalator begun by the previous Government; deplores the previous Government's record of under-investment in transport, which left an investment backlog in important areas like road maintenance, rail and London Underground; notes that under the last Government the number of cars per mile of road went up from 70 to 100, that yearly carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased by 26 per cent. and that by May 1997 Railtrack was £700 million behind on its rail investment and maintenance programme; and welcomes the Government's approach on an integrated transport strategy which will be delivered by an integrated Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and its plans to increase spending and modernise the transport system further through its Ten Year Plan for transport investment.

I speak in this Committee on behalf of the shadow Cabinet.--[ Official Report, Standing Committee E , 18 January 2000; c. 9.]

Any critic of the Government's tax plans who claims also to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy.--[ Official Report , 30 November 1993; Vol. 233, c. 939.]

The Government's presumption in favour of introducing legislation in due course, to enable congestion charging and area licensing to be implemented.

The Government will discuss with the Local Authority Associations what powers may be appropriate over and above those already available to them, for example to facilitate the introduction of congestion charging, area licensing, or taxing private non-residential parking.

Any critic of the Government's tax plans who claims also to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy.

I do not expect to have people dancing in the streets in delight at the concept of road pricing but if you look at the environmental problems, you can see the impetus behind the policy and the necessity.

I believe the key is not to build lots more roads but to make more intelligent use of the ones we have.

I take the view that you cannot pander to traffic growth.

We did not do enough for the tube--I would be the first to acknowledge that--[ Official Report , 27 January 1999; Vol. 324, c. 436.]

For too long passengers, particularly on London commuter lines paying full fares, have found themselves having to stand. Train companies now need to grasp the fact that their product includes a seat. Selling a fare without the capacity to provide a seat is like selling a hotel room without a bed.

Therefore we would ask the SRA to introduce a new policy whereby after three years of a new franchise all customers unable to get a seat would be entitled to a refund.

The new Mayor is considering a £5-a-day congestion charge . . . But the blunt truth from our 3-month CommuterWatch survey of train, Tube and bus services is that the majority are as poor or even worse than when we tested them in 1997 and 1998.

At the root of this depressing picture lies the crisis of investment. The pitifully low levels of money spent on the UK's crumbling transport infrastructure have weakened every link in the chain, from poor maintenance to bad day to day management.

New park and ride schemes,

More secure and cheaper parking places,

New roads where they are needed,

Conservatives show the road ahead

Today I am asking everyone who has to use the road to write to me and tell me what are the worst roads in the north-east.

I want to hear about the roads that need widening, badly maintained roads and clogged towns and villages that need a bypass. This will allow the next Conservative Government to put together a roads programme that addresses the real needs of the travelling public.

The hon. Gentleman goes on to quote with approval the British Roads Federation which, he says, has claimed

that the Government will need to spend an additional £4 billion per year on maintaining and improving our road network to deliver a transport system that will rival the best in Europe.

Question , That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 130, Noes 349.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 130 (+2 tell)082.5%
Independent1 0033.3%
Lab312 (+2 tell) 0075.7%
LDem34 0072.3%
PC2 0050.0%
Total:349 130076.8%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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