HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 cc449-50
16. Mr. Goodlad

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, in view of the fact that there are no plans in the current Session to nationalise the road haulage industry, what advice he has given to the industry about its future.

Mr. William Rodgers

Whoever owns the road haulage industry, it has a bright future as long as it provides a service that the country needs.

Mr. Goodlad

Will the Secretary of State tell the House what advantage he thinks will be gained from an extension of nationalisation in the road haulage industry, as mentioned in the White Paper?

Mr. Rodgers

The industry has had a mixed reputation. The experience of the National Freight Corporation in the great majority of its operations has shown how an effective part of the public sector can be a pace setter. I want to see the NFC grow in its activities and make a substantial contribution to the industrial life of this country.

Mr. Bidwell

Does my right hon. Friend agree that when we have got rid of the Lib-Lab pact and have a decent Labour majority in the House we shall be able to return to Socialist policies for transport? We shall be able to think in terms of a considerable extension of nationalisation in the road haulage industry.

Mr. Rodgers

I am not sure that I accept my lion. Friend's description of the present situation, but certainly when we have a new Parliament we shall he able to consider the clear commitment to enlarge the public sector in transport.

Mr. Adley

Does the Secretary of State accept the viewpoint about the extension of nationalisation in the industry irrespective of the parliamentary position at present? Will he tell us who will be the beneficiaries of more nationalisation?

Mr. Rodgers

This is not the occasion for an ideological debate, although I should love to take part in one. I believe in a very strong public sector pushing its frontiers forward. On the road haulage industry, I take the view that the public sector can set standards in a way that the private sector has been unable to do. In a mixed economy I want to see both sectors prosper.