HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc371-2
11. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the importance of road transport to development in Scotland as outlined in Cmnd. Paper No. 2864, "The Scottish Economy 1965 to 1968", he will conduct an inquiry into the effect on economic development of rising road transport costs.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

No, Sir.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Is the Minister aware that the costs of road haulage firms have risen considerably since 1964, in some cases by as much as 70 per cent., particularly since 1st March this year when certain Sections of the Transport Act came into effect? Is he aware that since then costs have risen still further, particularly in the remoter areas of the Highlands and the north-east of Scotland? How can that possibly be in the interests of development?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Knowing the hon. Gentleman's usual inaccuracy about figures, I should not like to accept those that he has given. I can say on behalf of Scotland that it is a great mistake to exaggerate the burden of transport costs on our country. The Toothill Committtee in 1960–61 found nothing in its inquiry to support the view that transport costs are a significant additional burden on manufacturing industry in Scotland. This is still true of transport if all costs are taken into account. It must be remembered that costs are incurred not only on wages but also on measures to secure better road safety.

Mr. Grimond

Can the hon. Gentleman say how far the estimated increase in costs has been taken into account in assessing the value of roll-on, roll-off ferries, and so forth?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

That, I hope, will be raised in a later Question.