HC Deb 07 March 2000 vol 345 cc856-7
10. Mr. Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North)

When he plans to establish the national walking forum to implement the national walking strategy. [112182]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Keith Hill)

We have already published guidance to local authorities on providing for walking in their local transport plans, and more guidance will be published shortly. That will provide practical advice to planners and practitioners in making it easier, safer and more convenient for people to walk, which we hope will add to the quality of life, especially in our urban areas. We are considering arrangements for continuing consultation with interested parties.

Mr. Hopkins

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. I am sure that, like me, he is astonished by the statistic that about half of all the traffic on the road between 8.30 am and 9 am is the school run—parents taking their children to school. That creates a serious traffic problem, as well as a health problem. Will my hon. Friend refer the problem to the walking forum when it is established, so that it can propose successful measures to bring the numbers down?

Mr. Hill

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. I should point out to him that a separate body, the schools travel advisory group, already exists. It has already reported on these matters and made a number of helpful recommendations to the Government about ways in which we can encourage families to prise their children out of cars and encourage them to cycle, walk or bus to school, as a healthier alternative to the school run.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

The Deputy Prime Minister said in the White Paper that too many of us are using a car for a short distance instead of walking. Will the Minister undertake that next year, the Deputy Prime Minister will leave the two Jags at home when he goes to party conference and walk between the conference centre and the hotel?

Mr. Hill

This really is becoming rather tedious. I shall treat the hon. Lady's intervention with the contumely that it deserves.