HL Deb 08 November 1988 vol 501 cc538-9

2.45 p.m.

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the public local inquiry into coach terminal options, as envisaged in the Department of Transport's Press Notice No. 201 dated 7th April 1987, will take place.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, we had expected a local public inquiry to take place to consider a planning application by London Regional Transport for a new coach terminal at Paddington. London Regional Transport has not submitted such an application, and has recently announced that it has been unable to reach agreement with the owners of the site concerned. It is therefore now considering other options. Any planning application by London Regional Transport for an alternative terminal on another site might need to be considered by a public inquiry.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that while London is served by some half a dozen main line railway stations, there is still only one main coach station? This is causing undue congestion in the Victoria area, and considerable inconvenience to those who wish to travel by coach, North, South, East or West.

After many years of fruitless discussion, will a determined effort now be made to find alternative stations for using coaches which are becoming an increasingly important means of travel throughout the country?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, obviously it is disappointing from the point of view or LRT that the proposals at Paddington did not come to fruition. It is a matter for that body. Its consultants have identified a number of other possible sites, in particular at White City and King's Cross which I expect they will wish to consider. Paddington may remain possible if circumstances change.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, in noting what the noble Lord has said, does not the Department of Transport still have overall responsibility for the coach traffic of London? Is it aware that there is urgent need for a coach station to the North of London? Does it retain responsibility, or is it just sitting back and letting the local boroughs fight it out among themselves in conjunction with the property developers?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the responsibility lies with L RT to find a site for a possible new coach terminal.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, despite what the Minister has said, is it not two years since the Minister for Transport in another place said, in reply to a Question, that the Government were not satisfied whether a single-hub coach station was required or whether there should be a number of coach stations? Has nothing been done to consider that matter during the previous two years? It is surely a serious matter.

Is not the matter further complicated by a press statement, No. 65, issued a few days ago by London Regional Transport? This made clear that LRT had purchased the Victoria Coach Station for the National Bus Company in order to deal with the immediate situation, but that it was considering what to do on a long-term basis.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that is what I referred to in my original Answer. Because the possible deal as regards the Paddington site appeared to have fallen through it bought the Victoria Coach Station to safeguard the use of that for the time being pending further investigations.

There are arguments for and against a single-hub terminal but we would expect to see such an issue considered by a planning inquiry. I cannot comment in advance of that.