HC Deb 21 March 1994 vol 240 c10
11. Sir Anthony Durant

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the relative friendliness to the environment of 44-tonne lorries and 38-tonne lorries.

Mr. MacGregor

I see a positive advantage to the use of 44-tonne lorries for combined road-rail transport. That means fewer lorries, it transfers freight from road to rail and so benefits the environment.

Sir Anthony Durant

Does my right hon. Friend realise that my constituents are concerned about the increasing size of lorries, and are particularly concerned about the way in which lorries use side streets as short cuts? Should not we be doing more about encouraging rail-road routes?

Mr. MacGregor

That is precisely what the increase to 44 tonnes for combined road-rail transport will do. It is also important to underline that that does not actually mean larger lorries. Those lorries will, in themselves, get more freight back on to rail and, in so doing, assist the process. However, in themselves, they do not mean larger lorries.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Secretary of State agree that the history of increases in lorry weight and size is one not of a reduced number of lorries, but of an increase in larger lorries on our roads? Although the increase to 44 tonnes may not involve much greater external dimensions, will not it mean potentially greater axle weights and more damage to our roads? Does not the Secretary of State realise that, if we do not want those juggernauts going to every nook and corner of our country, we must keep a right of veto in the Common Market because this is about standardisation of lorry weights throughout the Common Market and has nothing to do with the advantage of the United Kingdom?

Mr. MacGregor

The decision about 44-tonne combined road-rail transport, which was entirely mine, was taken to encourage more freight on to rail. With regard to road wear, a 44-tonne vehicle on six axles has the same effect on a road as a 38-tonne vehicle on five axles. We are insisting that 44-tonne vehicles have six axles.