HL Deb 25 March 1976 vol 369 cc767-9

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government in what form they propose that the national debate about traffic forecasting should take place.


My Lords, traffic forecasting will be covered in the Consultative Paper on transport policy which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is publishing shortly. The Paper should stimulate debate both in Parliament and outside.


My Lords, why is the transport Consultative Paper being delayed? Can the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, say whether she agrees with her noble friend Lady Stedman, who on the last occasion when we debated traffic forecasting said that she could not understand the mathematical formulæ involved and that the matter was far too complicated to be dealt with on the Floor of the House? In that event would the noble Baroness agree that other opportunities must be provided for those interested parties outside to make their views known to the Department, and would the noble Baroness consider the possibility of a Select Committee of this House being convened to examine the White Paper?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, the opportunities for it to be debated in this House and in another place will be discussed with everyone with any interest in the transport field—unions, management, local authorities, transport users—and we shall also be asking people to write to us with their views. In addition, we shall be discussing it with any bodies who have already intimated any likely criticisms they may have, even of a paper they have not yet seen.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that her original reply was almost like a gramophone record? The noble Baroness used the word "shortly": we have been getting this reply each time a Question has been asked since last December. Instead of giving the same type of reply, can the noble Baroness not be a little more forthright? Are we going to get this Paper next month?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, the Paper certainly should be out next month, which is "shortly".

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, can the noble Baroness tell us what steps the Government intend to take to consult the users of public transport in regard to the Paper?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, both through the organisations which I have already mentioned, and also publicly, people will be asked to write giving their ideas, so they may make representations either through organisations or as individuals.


My Lords, I should like to press the noble Baroness once again on the technicalities of traffic forecasting and the question of how she sees these being debated. Does she not agree that if people are left to write letters to the Department this will not promote a public debate because no one else will see them? Will she find some means whereby the methodology of the traffic forecast can be thoroughly examined with all those interested parties having the opportunity of making their views known, not only to the Department but to a wider circle of people who might be in a position to comment on them?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, in view of the problems in regard to traffic forecasting, my right honourable friend will issue an annex to the Paper. I am sure the noble Lord will agree that the technical side is the way it is arrived at but the basis on which it is made is part of policy, which can quite easily be discussed.

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