HL Deb 29 April 1985 vol 463 cc1-4
Lord Boothby

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to impose restrictions on coaches and heavy lorries in London in order to prevent inordinate traffic delays.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, coaches and heavy lorries are already subject to a number of local authority traffic regulations in London. Urgent consideration is being given, with the authorities concerned, as to the scope for action over increased volumes of coaches in London this summer.

Lord Boothby

My Lords, arising out of that Answer, is the noble Lord aware that unless something really drastic is done by somebody to stop or to limit the parking of these juggernauts all over central London, traffic will gradually grind to a standstill?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we are of course concerned. That is why we are examining the situation to see how we might assist the authorities more directly in resolving the problems.

Lord Granville of Eye

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that some of the continental day coaches come to the centre of London, put down their passengers and then cruise around empty for two or three hours, and that this in itself is causing serious traffic delays? Furthermore, has he seen the Embankment, which has now been turned into a very large coach station, which is also causing serious traffic delays?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the problem is the difficulty in finding places in which to park these coaches in London when they have disgorged their tourists. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that the tourist industry is of great importance to London and the economy, and that we should not try to prevent tourists from coming here.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware of the intense and growing concentration of coach traffic in the Victoria area around the coach station? Is he further aware that in recent tests carried out the emissions of smoke and sulphur dioxide in Ebury Street (which is a residential area) were in excess of the EC limits? What are the Government going to do about this threat to health and the environment in this important part of central London?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am well aware of the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, for the Ebury Street area and Victoria Coach Station. I was not aware that the smoke was in excess of the limits allowed. I can say that it is primarily a matter for the GLC, which is the traffic authority, and of course Westminster City Council. However, I hope that that will not long remain so. I would say that I believe that there are certain plans in hand which might alleviate the situation in Ebury Street.

Lord Diamond

My Lords, will the noble Lord accordingly support us when we come to the appropriate amendment in the Bill?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Certainly not, my Lords.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would be kind enough to say a little more about the examination which is being conducted. Can he tell us what are the terms of reference of the examination, who and how many are conducting the examination, and when the Government will be in a position to announce the result of it?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, it is early days at the moment. The noble Lord may well be aware that the GLC is currently conducting its own investigation, and I believe submissions have to be in by 31st March. We shall be interested to see the conclusions. As for our own investigations, we are discussing the situation with the local authorities concerned, the operators and so forth.

Lord Mowbray and Stourton

My Lords, would it not be possible for Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the GLC or whatever other body, at least to see that juggernauts unload their heavy loads into smaller lorries before coming into the very centre of London?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, as the noble Lord may be aware, there is already a ban in certain areas of central London on lorries of over 40 feet—and I believe that the area is bounded by Vauxhall, Blackfriars, King's Cross and the Edgware Road—for those not requiring access to central London. As to larger lorries transferring their loads to smaller lorries, I am not sure that that would have the desired effect as it would result in more lorries and not fewer.

Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

My Lords, in view of the basically unsatisfactory answer of the noble Lord the Minister to my noble friend Lord Ezra, can the noble Lord give an undertaking that the pollution difficulties to which my noble friend referred, and of which the noble Lord the Minister had no knowledge, will be looked into in the near future?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I apologise if my answer to the supplementary question of the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, was unsatisfactory. I shall look into the question which he has raised and see what conclusions we come to.

Viscount Trenchard

My Lords, has my noble friend an estimate of the degree to which the problems that are being complained about will be alleviated when the M.25 is completed?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I hope that the problems of lorries using London as through traffic will be very considerably alleviated when the M.25 is completed. In regard to tourist coaches, etc., I do not think there will be any difference.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that adjacent to St. Margaret's in Parliament Square there is a private hire coach parked every day of the week advertising the three trips which it does round the London sights? Will he look into the matter, because it is causing extreme congestion in Parliament Square itself?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am not aware of the particular matter to which the noble Baroness refers. I would point out that under the London Regional Transport Act 1984 licences for local excursions and tours can be refused if the traffic commissioners consider that the proposed stopping places would be prejudicial to the safety or convenience of the public. I shall draw the noble Baroness's remarks to the attention of the appropriate quarter.

Back to