HC Deb 01 July 1997 vol 297 c98
9. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the recent report of the royal commission on environmental pollution regarding air quality. [4672]

Mr. Meacher

I welcome the contribution of the royal commission on environmental pollution's 18th report to stimulating further public debate about the environmental impact of transport, including on air quality. I am looking forward to reading the commission's follow-up report later in the year.

Mr. Robathan

The new Government have made some very encouraging sounds about reducing dependence on private motor cars and motor cars in general, which I generally welcome. Will the Minister therefore take on board a suggestion that I made to his predecessors that we should look—[Interruption.] Should not he, and the Deputy Prime Minister with his diverse responsibilities, look very carefully at the number of ministerial cars that travel very short distances for no good gain, since a tremendous saving could be made for the benefit of air quality?

Mr. Meacher

I am sure that we can look into that issue. I agree that we are intending to discourage the use of cars for short journeys where there is an appropriate alternative. It is true that half of all car journeys in this country are—I think—of less than two miles. In many cases, there is no doubt that it would be more sensible and desirable if people, including Ministers on the appropriate occasion, walked or used public transport.