HC Deb 20 December 1967 vol 756 cc1253-4
36. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Transport what arrangements she will make to secure employment for those long-distance lorry drivers who will be come unemployed as a result of Her Majesty's Government's plans for road freight transport.

Mr. Swingler

We do not believe that those proposals will lead to any significant unemployment among long-distance lorry drivers.

Mr. Farr

Is the Minister aware that estimates have been made that up to 5,000 long-distance lorry drivers will be thrown on the industrial scrapheap if this tragic bit of legislation goes through? What is he to do about it?

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman may have noticed that in one of the appendices to the White Paper dealing with these proposals the forecast figures show that we believe that road-ton mileage in the next ten years will increase by 20 per cent., taking into account these quantity licensing proposals. He may also have noticed that these proposals affect less than 100,000 out of the 1½ million vehicles now subject to licensing.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that these proposals will discriminate very savagely, particularly against places which already have a high unemployment rate, such as Scotland? If there is so much welcome, can the Minister name one organisation concerned with Highlands and Scottish development that welcomes these proposals?

Mr. Swingler

I do not for one moment agree with the hon. Gentleman. He obviously has not studied the details, because he will be aware that these proposals put the railways and road transport on an equal basis, and that there will be a transfer to rail only where it is quite clear, on grounds of safety, reliability and cost, that the railways can carry the freight better. Otherwise, the freight will continue to be carried by road.

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