HC Deb 10 February 1992 vol 203 cc647-8
11. Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the public response to his recently announced Londonwide red route consultation proposals.

Mr. Rifkind

I announced my proposals for the composition of the red route network in London on 22 January and will be considering the responses I receive by 31 March.

Mr. Dykes

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the pilot scheme has been a spectacular success, with about a one third reduction in the number of accidents on the red routes compared with a 12 per cent. average reduction for Greater London? Will he assure us that he will stick robustly to the outline suggestions in the consultation paper? Will he think about the continuing problem, however, of parking abuse by private motorists on the red routes? Those cars must be clamped quickly to deter their owners from parking there.

Mr. Rifkind

I agree with my hon. Friend, in particular about enforcement of the red routes being crucial to their success. My hon. Friend was right to refer to the enormous improvement in safety on the red routes. During the pilot scheme, there was a fall in the number of personal injury accidents of 33 per cent., at a time when accidents elsewhere in London had also fallen, but by only 10 per cent. It is clear that the red routes are making a significant contribution to saving lives and to preventing serious injuries.

Ms. Ruddock

Did not the Secretary of State say that red routes would not encourage cars, but would help buses, lorries and the environment? How does he explain that the pilot scheme results show an 11 per cent. decrease in the number of heavy goods vehicles, but an overall increase in traffic of 11 per cent? There was no decrease in local traffic. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that, in his proposed 300 miles of network, 30 per cent. will have no local bus services and that the Government do not intend to make any new money available for the essential traffic-calming and safety measures that need to be implemented with the red routes?

Do not the results of the pilot scheme guarantee a hostile reaction to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's consultation document, as exemplified by the Tory council of Kingston upon Thames, whose committee chairman said that the red routes were wholly inappropriate to local traffic problems? Will not—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Please be brief.

Ms. Ruddock

Will the Secretary of State now abandon that failed experiment and adopt Labour's policy, which is to turn red routes into green routes, where buses and the environment will truly have priority?

Mr. Rifkind

I have no intention of abandoning a policy which is already saving lives and preventing people, including children, from being injured. The hon. Lady was wrong in what she said, because the evidence suggests that more people are travelling by bus and that there has been an increase on certain routes. In addition, bus journeys are being completed considerably more quickly than before. The hon. Lady's facts are based on a misunderstanding of the position.