HC Deb 09 February 1977 vol 925 cc1415-6
8. Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, to what extent his Department will take account of the energy efficiency of different modes of transport when formulating its forthcoming White Paper.

Mr. Horam

I shall be taking full account of energy considerations, on which my Department has been working with the Department of Energy. But the comparative energy efficiency of different transport modes is not easy to establish or quantify, and it will also have to be weighed with other considerations.

Mr. Forman

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that in the longer term—perhaps over 15 to 20 years—it is vital for any Government to pay great attention to the energy efficiency of different modes of transport, especially as on present calculations the commuter train is about six times more energy-efficient than the commuter car with one person in it and a fully laden double-decker bus is about 12 times more efficient than the commuter car? Will the hon. Gentleman take these matters fully into account?

Mr. Horam

Yes. We are very conscious of the extremely important questions that are posed for transport policy not only in the light of the general prospects for the supply of oil but the price of oil over the next 15 to 20 years. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Department, through the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, has undertaken a continuous programme of research to examine the energy efficiency of different modes of transport, both conventional and unconventional.

Mr. Stan Crowther

Will my hon. Friend pay special attention to the energy efficiency of waterborne transport? Will he bear in mind that in terms of fuel costs the price per ton mile of transporting goods by water is approximately one quarter that of transporting goods by road? In view of that, will my hon. Friend try to persuade the Prime Minister that the commercial use of waterways should be his responsibility rather than that of the Minister with responsibility for sport?

Mr. Horam

I am reluctant to take initial responsibilities from my right hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport. I should prefer to have sport rather than waterways. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. With regard to freight, water transport is more energy-efficient than trains, and trains are more energy-efficient than road vehicles. There is a clear case for including water transport within the Department of Transport.

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