HC Deb 20 December 1967 vol 756 cc1243-5
11. Mr. Noble

asked the Minister of Transport if she will take steps to exempt the Highlands and Islands from the licensing system for lorries on journeys over 100 miles proposed in her White Paper on the Transport of Freight.

74. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked for Minister of Transport if she will exempt the North-East of Scotland from her proposals to restrict road haulage to a 100 mile radius, in view of the inadequacy of the railway freight system there.

Mr. Carmichael

The proposal is to require all road hauliers carrying goods for more than 100 miles in lorries of over 16 tons gross weight to apply for a quantity licence. It would not be practicable to exempt whole areas from the system, but licences will be available virtually on demand where there is no alternative rail service.

Mr. Noble

While I would agree with the hon. Member that there would be some slight benefit if the procedure which he outlined were put into effect, I hope that he realises that, in my constituency alone, the distance from one end to the other is over 250 miles for lorries of this sort, and that the problems of the Highlands in particular will be very acute if there is any discrimination at all on a simple basis of distance. For a large part of the area, no railways are available at all.

Mr. Carmichael

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, as I said in my Answer, where there is no alternative system the licence will be given practically on demand.

Mr. Maclennan

When my hon. Friend refers to alternative systems being available, does he have in mind the existence of a freight liner terminal within the specified region?

Mr. Carmichael

Obviously, if there is a freight liner terminal within the region, this will be an alternative system of transport. Our object, of course, is that transport should be as economic as possible for the user, and we would therefore hope that the user's attention would be drawn to the terminal and that the best and most economic means of transport would be used by him.

Mr. Dewar

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is considerable cause for alarm in certain areas where the railways have voluntarily given up running a service and that the railways might re-enter a field in which there has been considerable investment by the road industry, thereby forcing that industry out, with considerable losses? I am thinking in particular of the long-distance transport of fish from Aberdeen.

Mr. Carmichael

Such cases as the long-distance transport of fish, will be one of the considerations which will be taken into account when an application is made by the National Freight Corporation or the railways for traffic. It is also one of the considerations which will need to be examined by the licensing authorities.

Mr. Webster

What damages will be paid to a firm which loses its licence if the railways fail to carry out their undertaking on speed, reliability and cost?

Mr. Carmichael

None, Sir.

34. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Minister of Transport, in connection with the proposals for licensing heavy transport vehicles where their journeys are to exceed 100 miles, what provision she intends to make in respect of such vehicles travelling to Europe from this country and vice versa by means of the Channel Tunnel or other cross-Channel facilities.

Mr. John Morris

Quantity licences will not be needed for international journeys.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Does that reply mean that United Kingdom hauliers will suffer no greater burden vis-à-vis licences and taxation than their counterparts on the other side of the Channel?

Mr. Morris

For journeys referred to in the Question, the answer is "No".

22. Mr. Monro

asked the Minister of Transport what plans she has to seek to impose quantitive control over road haulage to all goods vehicles of more than 16 tons gross weight engaged in hauls of over 100 miles; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Carmichael

I would refer the hon. Member to Chapter V of the White Paper on the Transport of Freight, which contains the proposals for quantity licensing.

Mr. Monro

Is the Minister aware that reading his paragraphs fills me with misery? Is he aware that it will mean that three lorries will do the work of two and add to the congestion on the roads?

Mr. Carmichael

I cannot accept that. If the hon. Member is referring, for example, to drivers' hours, he should realise that they have been the same since 1930, whereas conditions on the roads have considerably worsened.