HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 cc459-60
31. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to secure sufficient permits to enable road hauliers in the North of England to convey to EEC countries goods exported to those countries by local firms.

Mr. Horam

We continue to press for increased quotas on every appropriate occasion. All permits are allocated on a national basis, using criteria agreed with the trade associations representing operators.

Mr. Beith

Does the hon. Gentleman hold out any hope for local haulage contractors in the very areas where firms have been successful in developing an export trade, or is the haulage work associated with this trade to continue to go to hauliers from the other end of the country or, indeed, to overseas hauliers?

Mr. Horam

The hon. Gentleman may be aware that we published a report last October that went into the way in which we allocate permits. We invited comments on the report so as to receive suggestions on how we might improve our methods, which is something that we are always seeking to do. If the hon. Gentleman has any such suggestions, I should welcome them.

Mr. Welsh

Is the Minister aware of the permit problems that are met on journeys to the Middle East? I draw his attention to the problems facing firms such as those in my constituency that carry out this lucrative export trade.

Mr. Horam

Yes, I agree that there are difficulties in the Middle East. Before Christmas I discussed these difficulties with the Government of Iraq and various other Arab Governments, with a view to sorting out some of the problems. The Department is continuing to take an interest in them.

Mr. Fairbairn

I hope that the Minister will not mind my referring to North Britain, which many Labour Members may think is the North of England. Does he appreciate that many road hauliers in Scotland can get reverse licences by going to the Continent, and cannot get them from this country to go to the Continent, so that they have to operate backwards?

Mr. Horam

I am totally opposed to juggernauts going backwards along motorways.