HC Deb 03 February 1998 vol 305 c834
9. Mr. Baker

What steps he is taking to encourage employees within his Department to travel to work by means other than private car. [24896]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Angela Eagle)

All Departments have been asked to draw up and implement green transport plans with the objective of minimising the environmental impact of Departments' transport activities. To achieve that objective, all civil servants and Ministers will be urged to use public transport for official business and, whenever possible, for commuting. Walking or cycling short distances will also be encouraged. My Department is taking the lead in the development and implementation of the policy.

Mr. Baker

May I welcome the commitment shown by the Secretary of State and the Minister for the Environment to developing an integrated transport policy—which I support and which is a most welcome change from the previous Government's transport policy? However, for Ministers to be entirely effective, they will have to ensure that their own house is in order and that their Departments are whiter than white—or greener than green. Might it be helpful if the Secretary of State did not use a four-litre Jaguar and if he persuaded his colleagues to use public transport more? Some Ministers—including the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department—have not so far travelled by train.

Angela Eagle

I have clarified the Department's approach to the matter. The hon. Gentleman must realise that there are circumstances in which cars are necessary—for example, for security reasons, in Northern Ireland. Figures alone do not tell the whole story. Nevertheless, in my own case, of the 31 journeys on official visits that I have made outside London since I was appointed, one has been by car, four by air and 26 by rail.

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