HC Deb 01 July 1997 vol 297 cc98-9
31. Mr. Hinchliffe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has to encourage greater commercial use of inland waterways. [4694]

Mr. Prescott

I can confirm that I am looking at this in my integrated transport review.

Mr. Hinchliffe

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is unacceptable for a significant number of constituents of mine to be kept awake every night as a result of noise nuisance arising from heavy lorries carrying bulk cargoes? Does he also agree that it is unacceptable that an extensive waterways network in England, such as that which we have in West Yorkshire, is scarcely used for commercial transportation? May I urge him to bring forward radical proposals to ensure that such bulk cargoes are in future moved wherever possible by water and suggest that, if he wants to introduce such a scheme on a pilot basis, West Yorkshire would very much welcome it?

Mr. Prescott

I assure my colleague that lorries will play an important part in the movement of freight, but agree that much more can be done with freight and waterways, where there is capacity to be developed. Our programme and review will look at the integration of various forms of transport. We certainly think that waterways can make more of a contribution. I am aware that a freight integration centre is being developed in my hon. Friend's area for channel tunnel freight. That provides us with an excellent opportunity. I am prepared to consider his point.