HL Deb 31 January 1989 vol 503 cc990-2

3.4 p.m.

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the terms of reference given to Marcial Echenique and Partners in respect of the survey of traffic flow in the London area.

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

My Lords, Marcial Echenique has been engaged by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport to pursue the possibility of developing a computer model in connection with the London Assessment Studies.

The model will be used in the assessment of options to take account of the interaction between transport and a wide range of factors such as location of employment, support services and residential and leisure facilities.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that the company still does not know what the Government intend it to test? Is he further aware that the company has had no response from the Government as to what is to be tested on the computer? Before that information is given, will this House have an opportunity to hear the details of the Government's recommendations for testing? Will that include the examination of the present delays caused by using one-man operated buses in London?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am surprised that the noble Lord says that the company does not know what it has been asked to do. It has already produced a preliminary report and we expect the full report to be produced in a few months' time.

The model will be used to test the interaction between land use and transportation against a background of present government policies. The potential for sensitivity testing and for varying these policies has not yet been evaluated. Once the model has been built, that potential can be better assessed.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, is it not the case that this will be the ninth study of transport in London which has been commissioned and either reported upon or is in the process of being reported upon? 1 have information about six road reports which have been commissioned and two rail studies which have been commissioned. Although the Secretary of State for Transport says that he does not want a central scheme for transport but wants to be more flexible, does not that mean looking piecemeal at the problem in London? If the reports are to be considered together, it means that only the Secretary of State and his department will be making decisions.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the noble Lord is aware of the four London assessment studies covering different areas of London and the improvements that might or might not be made in those areas. This present study is very much supplemental to those. It is using brand new technology and has not previously been tried on this scale. We feel that it might be useful, but we shall not know until we have the information produced. Having obtained that, it will be a question of whether it can be integrated into the other assessment studies. It is not separate from them.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, does not the Minister agree that the problems of traffic and movement in London do not arise from the shortage of studies but from the fact that the division and control of transport in London between three authorities—the police, the department and the local authorities—makes it impossible to look at the problems of London as a whole? Does not the Minister think that the time is long overdue to study not simply the problem but the possibility of having a single authority for London transport?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we are straying somewhat from the Question on the Order Paper, which relates purely to this study being carried out by one company. However, in general terms, I believe I answered a Question on this subject not long ago. We have had single authorities in the past. They have not produced an integrated London transport policy and we do not want to repeat those mistakes.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, do the terms of reference—the subject of this Question—include investigating better collaboration between statutory authorities which have the rightto make holes in the streets and then fill them up again? My street has been taken to pieces at least six times in the past year. As one part of the traffic flow, I just am not flowing.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I sympathise with the noble Earl, but, no, this study is to discover what traffic is attracted to an area when new transport infrastructure is produced.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, will the Minister accept from me—my Question deals with the whole terms of reference of this particular firm—that what the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said is perfectly true and seems to agree with the concept that in studying the traffic problems of London one must also study the whole aspect of movement and congestion in London, including land use?

The Minister said that he was surprised to be told that the firm had not yet been told of the Government's intentions. I quote from a letter that I received last week from the company concerned: The set of policies to be tested has still to be decided by the department. That is contrary to what the Minister said. Can he now have a word with his advisers? If they are going to brief him they should at least brief him correctly.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, in his original Question the noble Lord asked me what policies are set for the model to test. I replied to that Question. I do not believe that there is anything that I can add to that now.