HC Deb 03 May 1978 vol 949 cc223-4
12. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, how much he estimates road haulage costs to have increased since February 1974; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Horam

By about 90 per cent.

Mr. Mills

Does the Minister realise the terrible effect that these massive increases have in certain areas, such as the South-West, particularly for the consumer, the farmer and the industrialist? Does he realise that the Government cannot avoid taking some responsibility for these massive increases? Will he see that road haulers are not further clobbered in future—by the black list, for example? May we have the report of the Price Commission as quickly as possible?

Mr. Horam

I pay tribute to the road haulage industry. It has been successful in offsetting higher costs with greater efficiency. I gave the figure of 90 per cent., but the figure for increased costs per tonne-kilometre is only 15 per cent. The industry has done well in coping with these rising costs.

Mr. Walter Johnson

Is my hon. Friend aware that if the juggernauts and other lorries paid a proper economic sum towards the maintenance of motorways and major roads, the costs would increase considerably? Last year it cost £80 million to maintain these roads. This is very unfair competition for the railways.

Mr. Horam

My hon. Friend will be aware that, overall, lorries are meeting their full wear and tear costs, with the exception of the very heaviest lorries. As he knows, we have a programme for dealing with that.

Mr. Kershaw

Is the Minister aware that one of the components of the costs of road hauliers is the inconvenient roads, with the long delays that can result? Is he now able to announce when the decision about the Stroud inner ring road, which I was promised earlier this month, will be made?

Mr. Horam

I thought that the hon. Gentleman would try to get that question in somewhere. I cannot give him a commitment offhand, but he will be aware of the priorities that we have given in the roads White Paper to work out suitable routes for lorries.