§ 1. Ms. Abbott
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the different studies he has sponsored into transport proposals and problems in London; and what is their expected final cost.
§ The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Paul Channon)
As the list is a long one, I shall arrange for the information to be published in the Official Report.
§ Ms. Abbott
Does the Secretary of State agree that there has been considerable criticism of the reports by professional organisations, including the Institution of Civil Engineers? Will he accept that, far from hatching plans to build more roads, in London, he should be considering the real concerns of the population of London—homes before roads, and safety before profit?
§ Mr. Channon
I think that the hon. Lady is referring to the assessment studies that are taking place in some parts of the capital. My aim for transport in London in general is to promote efficient and attractive public transport, better parking controls, new technology, trunk roads to take traffic round London and to support local authorities' road programmes. I do not think that anything will cut against the general thrust of that policy.
§ Mr. Higgins
Is my right hon. Friend aware that traffic problems in London were much better dealt with when they came under the direct authority of the Department of Transport? Given the real problems arising from bus lanes, coaches parking on roads and the appalling so-called traffic management schemes that were introduced at the Aldwych by the GLC, is it not high time that my right hon. Friend resumed responsibility for London transport?
§ Mr. Channon
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his constructive suggestion. Unfortunately, to implement it would require primary legislation. I have a suspicion that it would not exactly be non-controversial and might be rather difficult to get through the House. I have some sympathy, however, with what my right hon. Friend says.
§ Mr. Fraser
Does the Secretary of State travel on public transport in London? If so, does he not realise that massive public investment, without greed as a motive, is necessary if London is not to grind to a halt?
§ Mr. Channon
I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the need for massive investment. I am sure that he has noted with satisfaction the massive investment that has been provided under this Government, both for London Underground and British Rail. In real terms, the investment has been considerably higher than anything that was achieved when he and his right hon. and hon. Friends had anything to do with these matters.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway
Does my right hon. Friend agree that unless public and private transport continue to go through London at an adequate pace, industry will come to a stop, jobs will be lost and the entire metropolis will grind to a halt? Will he undertake to ensure that every measure possible is taken to get transport moving more quickly?
§ Mr. Channon
I shall do my best to achieve that. I am sure my hon. Friend agrees that, if we are to achieve what he has in mind, it is essential to provide better public transport in London. Also, I am sure he welcomes the fact that investment in London Underground is now 60 per cent. higher in real terms than it ever was under the GLC.
§ Mr. Prescott
Is the Secretary of State aware that, following various studies on safety within the London Transport system, reports continue to be made on fires, escalator breakdowns and inadequate safety procedures? Will he justify to the House his view, which was expressed to me in a letter, that an early debate on the Fennell report is not necessary, because of "the lengthy exchanges" that took place on the day of the statement on the report? Does he accept that the public will see this as a gross dereliction of his responsibilities, and will he reconsider?
§ Mr. Channon
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to have a debate on the issue, he has every opportunity to call for one. Such a debate in Government time is largely a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. The House will know from what I said in my statement, which has been widely commented on, that every conceivable effort is being made to improve safety within the London Underground system. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman welcomes, as I do, the vast sums that are being expended on safety on London Underground. If the Opposition want a debate, the remedy is in their hands.
§ The information is as follows:
|Current studies into transport issues in London and estimated cost|
|1. The Department of Transport is currently sponsoring the following studies into transport issues in London:|
|Stage 2 of the London Assessment Studies||4 million|
|Central London Rail Study with BR and LRT||300,000|
|A4/M4 Corridor Study||200,000|
|Trunk Road Signing Review||340,000|
|Development of Traffic Management and Accident Prevention Measures||1.3 million|
|Improvement and Enhancement of London Transportation Study Model||1 million|
|Company Assisted Travel||125,000|
|2. The following studies in which the Department has an interest are also in progress:|
|Docklands Public Transport Study||LRT/LDDC|
|Second Channel Tunnel Terminal||BR|
§ 3. The Department has also committed £186,000 to studies commissioned by Westminster City Council into ways of improving the environment and traffic conditions in Parliament Square.