§ 28. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
What extra provision he intends to make to encourage people to walk to local (a) schools, (b) shops and (c) places of entertainment. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Ms Glenda Jackson)
We have increased funding for local authority transport packages to £85 million this year. Most of those packages include measures to promote walking. The forthcoming White Paper on integrated transport will set out further measures to encourage walking.
§ Mr. Bennett
Is it not very disappointing that so many young people expect to be driven everywhere by their parents? Will my hon. Friend have a strong word with the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, to ensure that his policies encourage children to attend local schools and that, in the school curriculum, emphasis is put on what young people can do to improve their environment, rather than being concerned about the Bengal tiger or the rainforests? Should they not be told that walking to school would be a good contribution to improving the environment?
§ Ms Jackson
I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment will note what my hon. Friend has said. Equally, I am sure that my hon. Friend will know that, on 21 May, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport announced the setting up of the school travel advisory group. Its membership has not yet been finalised, but it will include representatives of my Department, the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Health, as well as local authorities and others at local level. Its main task will be to oversee further measures to reduce car use for school journeys. The aim is to produce comprehensive guidance on best practice for local authorities by this time next year.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
Does the Minister accept that, although walking is excellent exercise for those who are young, old or somewhere in between, the security of children going to school is of the utmost importance? A constituent of mine, a young lady of 13 called Claire Hart, was murdered in broad daylight. Sadly, she had been befriended by an unfortunate young man, who murdered her one day when she was on her way to school. If it is not completely secure, this business of walking can be a problem for young people.
§ Ms Jackson
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept my condolences following the particularly tragic incident that has afflicted his constituency. As he points out, the question of "stranger danger" also arises when parents decide whether to allow their children to walk or cycle to school rather than being escorted in cars. That is why all our thinking—both in the school travel advisory group, and when we are considering safe routes to school—is based on the premise that the safety and security of children must be overriding.
§ Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating two schools in my 853 constituency that took part in the Walking to School week, an initiative of Birmingham city council? However, in urging children and adults to walk more, will she also look at the Crime and Disorder Bill, which puts a statutory duty on local authorities for safer communities? As the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) has pointed out, safety is an extremely important consideration if we want to encourage people to walk, whether it is for entertainment or to school.
§ Ms Jackson
I will certainly congratulate my hon. Friend's local authority, as I would congratulate all local authorities that participated in that part of the Don't Choke Britain month, which encouraged children either to walk or cycle to school. She highlights the important role that a properly integrated transport system can play, not only in reducing and breaking down barriers of social exclusion, but in helping to reduce crime.