HC Deb 14 March 1994 vol 239 cc606-7
5. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has for a co-ordinated strategy for (a) energy and (b) transport for Wales.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

Plans are set out in "Sustainable Development—The UK Strategy", "This Common Inheritance", annual progress reports, the 1994 Welsh Office departmental report and various policy planning guidance notes and in my right hon. Friend's announcement to the House on 3 March on strategic road plans.

Mr. Hughes

May I encourage Ministers to make sure that there is a clearly separate energy and transport strategy for the Principality that fits in with the UK and European framework? Given that one of the things that would benefit both would be the transfer of freight from road to rail in Wales, will Ministers consider whether there can be an increase in subsidy for that purpose? Would not that take traffic away from the roads, increase the use of the railways, save energy, reduce pollution and reduce congestion at the same time?

Mr. Jones

I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend and I will make sure that the interests of Wales are fully safeguarded in the UK's consideration of the matter. It is not possible for Wales to be considered in isolation because of the obvious relativity involved.

On the hon. Gentleman's point about freight traffic on the railway, I think that the principle is absolutely sound. I look forward to the opportunities that I am sure the channel tunnel will bring for an increase in freight traffic in Wales carried on the railways.

Mr. Roger Evans

Will my hon. Friend join me in being careful of the phrase—the cant, humbug phrase—"co-ordinated strategy" when used by the Opposition? Is that not normally a code for more state interference, more bossiness from Whitehall and less listening to what the people of Wales really want? Does he agree that, these days, proposals to build new railway lines would be open to considerable environmental objections?

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. There are enough examples in the past of left-wing and Labour Governments—including those supported by the Liberal party—trotting out plan after plan. We know full well that the one thing centralised planning is sure to do is fail.

Mr. Llew Smith

On energy, will the Minister inform me as to what proportion of the non-fossil fuel levy goes to renewables and what proportion to nuclear?

Mr. Jones

That is a rather detailed question for which I had better provide the hon. Gentleman with a detailed answer.

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