HC Deb 03 June 1981 vol 5 cc909-11
2. Mr. Myles

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange for the publication of a summary of the evidence given to the Armitage committee.

10. Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in his consideration of the recommendations of the Armitage committee report.

Mr. Fowler

I am still considering the report of the Armitage inquiry and all the representations that have been put to me. The evidence submitted to the inquiry is available in my Department's library.

Mr. Myles

I accept that most organisations supported the concept of heavier lorries, but will my right hon. Friend ensure that, to accommodate heavier lorries, roads will be improved to an adequate standard—especially the A95?

Mr. Fowler

I am not sure whether I can enter into a commitment for the A95. We are considering all the proposals that are set out in the report of the Armitage inquiry and not merely one or two of them. It is clear that roads will be one of the major issues.

Mr. Foulkes

Would not it be extremely dangerous to have any increase in lorry weight, especially when there is a severe cutback in expenditure on road maintenance and road building and when there is the danger of gas main explosions and severe collapses because of the use of heavy lorries? If there are to be economies in transporting goods, would not it be better to carry more goods on the railways?

Mr. Fowler

We want to see the railways gain for themselves the maximum amount of freight. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that we have maintained the level of road investment in motorways and trunk roads. The money that is being spent on the maintenance of motorways and trunk roads is greater than ever before.

Mr. Emery

When my right hon. Friend is considering the action that he will take on the Armitage committee 's report, will he realise that many small communities and towns, especially in the West Country, are massively concerned about heavy articulated transport passing through? Will he consider granting them extra powers to ban lorries that are over 32 tons, for example, from passing through villages and towns?

Mr. Fowler

That is one of the issues that we shall want to consider in our consideration of the report of the Armitage inquiry. I know from the fact that my hon. Friend has contacted me on this issue that there is concern in villages in the West Country and especially in his constituency. That is why we want to place as much priority as we can on building bypasses. I realise that that cannot be done immediately in all instances, but that is one of the main aims in our road building programme.

Mr. Alexander

Bearing in mind the extent of the objections to which my right hon. Friend has referred, particularly in rural communities, including my constituency of Newark, will he consider publishing the objections which have been received, as well as his conclusions on the report, with an indication at least of their quantity, if not necessarily of their quality?

Mr. Fowler

I shall seek to examine that point. We shall try to publish the maximum information on the subject. It is very much the Government's aim and intent to obtain maximum information on the whole issue, including, as my hon. Friend wants, the views of those people who are opposed to the Armitage inquiry.

Mr. Spriggs

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some drivers are taking long vehicles along narrow roads? They are a danger not only to pedestrians, but to domestic property. What is he prepared to do about that?

Mr. Fowler

The hon. Gentleman is correct in a number of areas, but there is no way that we can cure the inadequacies of the road system overnight. One of the proposals of the Armitage inquiry is a limitation on size of the lorries. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman is concerned about length, that is taken care of. For all those reasons, I believe that it is wise for the Government to take their time in considering all the aspects of the Armitage inquiry.