HC Deb 12 March 1990 vol 169 cc3-5
3. Miss Hoey

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses he has now received to the London assessment studies consultation; and what was their nature.

Mr. Parkinson

Several thousand responses were received on the London assessment consultation and they are now being analysed.

Miss Hoey

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the vast majority of responses that he received from local authorities, businesses and property developers oppose the road-building aspects of the road assessment studies and call for more money to be spent on public transport? Will he now listen to what people are saying and, in particular, to the thousands of people in my area who are trying to save Clapham common from devastation?

Mr. Parkinson

Assessment of the representations is still going on and it would be unfair to suggest that we can summarise them in a word or two. Certainly, some of the major road-building proposals are very controversial but in other cases people accept the need for adjustments and improvements. I should also point out to the hon. Lady—I am glad that she underlined it her remarks—that the assessment studies contain quite a large number of public transport options and that the Government are already committed to the biggest ever investment programme for Network SouthEast and London Underground.

Mr. Gerald Bowden

Will my right hon. Friend note that during the consultation period I received an unprecedented number of letters—some 1,500 individual letters—from constituents about proposals for the south circular road? The vast majority of my correspondents do not wish large-scale road development to take place; they seek minor improvements at junctions and traffic management schemes. They would also endorse the proposals that I know my right hon. Friend and his Department are to put forward to improve the public transport system—in particular, the extension of the Underground route to the south-east.

Mr. Parkinson

On this occasion, as on others, my hon. Friend accurately assesses the mood of his constituents and represents it to the House. I thank him for his acknowledgement that a huge programme of investment to increase capacity on the Underground, to develop new lines and to extend and modernise existing lines is now under way and is being carried through.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Secretary of State agree that many of his public pronouncements have emphasised the importance of environmental factors when new roads are being built? Will he now reassess the decision—either of his Department or of the former Secretary of State for the Environment—not to put a road tunnel, as the inspector recommended, under Oxleas wood? Does he realise that the Government's failure to do that makes their claims to be green completely specious?

Mr. Parkinson

It is a little wild of the hon. Gentleman to say that the Government's reputation depends on a single decision, with which he does not agree, which affects his constituents. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the matter is being reconsidered and an inquiry is being reopened. We shall have to wait and see what recommendations are made.

Mr. Tracey

In his deliberations, will my right hon. Friend be clear about the fact that the London boroughs, and in particular the inner London boroughs, now place a much higher priority on environmental protection than on road building? Will he do all that he can to divert passengers to public transport and will he replenish the investment on public transport, which fell so radically under the Greater London council?

Mr. Parkinson

My hon. Friend is right to say that the Government must not underestimate the contribution that public transport can make in London. If we consider the investment programme, which is approximately four times what which we inherited from the Labour-controlled GLC five years ago, and also the £1,200 million that is to be invested in Network SouthEast, it is clear that we act while others talk and moan. We are aware of the need to improve public transport. However, we also recognise that many millions of people in London expect to use their motor cars and we are trying to ensure that that opportunity is open to them.

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