HC Deb 19 December 1972 vol 848 cc1117-8
Q3. Mr. Lipton

asked the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with Sir Desmond Plummer on matters relating to Government policies.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave in reply to a Question from the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) on 5th December.—[Vol. 847, c. 389–90.]

Mr. Lipton

That answer meant nothing—and nothing plus nothing still equals nothing. In view of the Prime Minister's recent street-walking experience which has made London's traffic problems more urgent than ever, has he taken the trouble to see Sir Desmond Plummer since that gentleman got back from Tokyo, or will he leave it until the time Sir Desmond next visits Tokyo so that he can have another long-distance telephone conversation? When does he intend to take action to deal with London's traffic problems?

The Prime Minister

The two Department's concerned, the Home Office and the Department of the Environment, have been in constant communication with the Greater London Council about this matter as well as with the police. I should have thought the hon. Gentleman would have known that the GLC has agreed in principle to ban vehicles over 40 feet in length from a considerable part of central London.

Miss Joan Hall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of people who travel in central London, particularly when they travel alone, do not use the tube because of the muggings that take place there? Will he do something to see that people can travel more safely on the Underground?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already indicated to the House the action which he has taken in this respect, and I am sure the House has also noticed that severe penalties are being imposed by the courts upon those found guilty of this offence. At the same time, I believe that we should not exaggerate the situation in London.

Mr. Barnes

Does not the Prime Minister agree that it would be unfortunate if his intervention encouraged the GLC to press ahead faster with its extremely ill-thought-out and highly unpopular motorway plans for London? Does he not realise that the kind of frustration which he suffered is an important element of traffic management object of which is to persuade more people that there are some journeys for which they do not need to use their cars?

The Prime Minister

I would not accept the philosophical approach in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. I thought that the object of traffic management was to keep traffic moving. I agree that the GLC's proposals for road developments have been highly controversial. There were more than 20,000 objections and the GLC proposes to rephase construction to avoid sensitive areas. It was right that the full process of inquiry should have been gone through even though it has meant some delay in what the GLC wanted to achieve.