HC Deb 01 June 1960 vol 624 cc1432-3
7. Mr. Mapp

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the increasing road congestion, and the fact that the road programme has not matched up with transport requirements, what proposals he has in mind for the setting up of new transport authorities for highly-populated industrial areas; what areas these proposals will cover; and when the necessary legislation is expected to be introduced.

Mr. Marples

The House will be aware of the arrangements for dealing with the traffic problems of London, where I have a special responsibility. Outside London the initiative in these matters rests with the local authorities.

Mr. Mapp

Will the Minister consider whether or not a preliminary survey might be made of such areas as south Lancashire, having regard to the principle of the London Passenger Transport Board? Do I gather that the Minister is now denying certain information which has been inserted in the papers in Lancashire?

Mr. Marples

I do not know anything about what has been inserted in local papers in Lancashire. I should like to see them. If Manchester and Oldham, for example, wish to get together and have a large transport unit, it is up to them to take the initiative and not up to Whitehall to dominate them. If they do that, I shall be quite prepared to consider whatever their plans are.

Mr. Benn

Is the Minister concerned with this, because it is widely recognised that the only possible answer to the problem of congestion is co-ordinated, supported and strengthened public transport services? Is this something where the Minister simply gives up the responsibility, or will he take any steps to bring that into being?

Mr. Marples

In this particular case, I think that some of the large towns such as Liverpool and Manchester are considered by many people to be large enough already, but if those concerned themselves wish to form, let us say, a Merseyside transport group or a group around Manchester, I should certainly be prepared to consider it.

Mr. Manuel

Has the Minister had consultations with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on the location of new industry or the extension of industry in heavily populated areas which may cause further road congestion where congestion is already dense? If such discussions have not taken place, does he not consider that it would be possible in the future to help matters considerably if there were early discussions before locations were settled and more road congestion occurred?

Mr. Marples

I quite agree. Those discussions are taking place. In Scotland, the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade are concerned. I deal with the President of the Board of Trade in England.