HC Deb 07 June 1972 vol 838 cc444-5
29. Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has now made in Brussels regarding the size and weight limits of commercial vehicles.

Mr. Speed

The views of the Government on this subject will be presented under the agreed consultation procedures.

Mr. Moate

Is my hon. Friend aware that The Timeshas reported that M. Coppé, the EEC Commissioner responsible for transport, was left steaming with rage after his two-and-a-half hour meeting with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries? Is my hon. Friend further aware how welcome it is that apparently at least one Minister is prepared to stand up robustly for British interests in Brussels? As there is something of a lorry crisis in many towns and villages even with the existing size of lorries, can we have a categorical assurance that this matter will be regarded as one affecting the national interest in which the Government would insist on the right of veto in any agreement negotiated?

Mr. Speed

We had better wait to see what happens when we have these consultations. I am not prepared to give my hon. Friend the assurance he asks for at this stage. I assure him, however, that not only my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries but all Ministers in the Department take environmental considerations very seriously—and steaming or not, we shall make our views known to those concerned in Europe.

Mr. Jay

Will the hon. Gentleman give a firm assurance that the Government will in no circumstances accept Community proposals which would plainly be damaging to this country?

Mr. Speed

The Community's proposals are only guidelines at the moment. Many more consultations between ourselves and the other countries involved have yet to take place.