HC Deb 09 November 1987 vol 122 cc2-3
2. Mr. David Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the eventual introduction in the United Kingdom of cabotage in the road haulage and road passenger transport industries; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We have received nine written representations. I met a deputation from the Transport and General Workers Union on 22 October. I have nothing to add to my reply of 28 October to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Brown).

Mr. Marshall

Does the Minister realise that cabotage poses a threat to jobs in this country, to safety on the roads and to the environment? Has he answered the specific question put to him by the Transport and General Workers Union, and what positive measures will he take to protect jobs and to prevent overloaded lorries, perhaps carrying dangerous substances, battling it out for business on our roads?

Mr. Bottomley

The Government take very seriously the point about enforcing the law, and we hope that the rest of the European Community will do the same. We will agree to cabotage if our operators have free and fair access to the markets of all member states. We have much more to gain than to lose from the liberalisation of cabotage if our hauliers grasp the opportunities.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Nevertheless, will the Minister accept that there is much concern about the approach of cabotage? By the Department of Transport's own admission about 3,000 continental hauliers driving on British roads are found to be overloaded and flouting our safety regulations every year. Given the rules on toxic waste and other dangerous substances, does the Minister accept the need to look carefully at the matter before 1992, to ensure that we protect our citizens, rather than simply benefiting road hauliers who want to travel overseas?

Mr. Bottomley

We do not intend to wait until 1992 to continue to improve our enforcement effort, whether on foreign or domestic hauliers. We do not want different safety standards between now and then. The Polytechnic of Central London report showed that about 1 per cent. of the United Kingdom haulage market was likely to be taken by non-United Kingdom hauliers, whereas if the highly protected German market was opened up 20 per cent. of it could be secured by non-German hauliers. We have more to gain than to lose.

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