HL Deb 26 July 2000 vol 616 cc518-9

(" .—(1) The Secretary of State shall publish an annual guide to the minimum cost per mile of legally operating a variety of goods vehicles.

(2) The Secretary of State shall not include any element of operating profit in the guide.

(3) The Secretary of State shall ensure that all United Kingdom taxes and duties are included in his calculations.

(4) The Secretary of State shall ensure that annual mileages of —

  1. (a) 50,000.
  2. (b) 75,000, and
  3. (c) 100,000.
are included in the guide.

(5) When producing the guide the Secretary of State shall consult any trade association, vehicle manufacturers or vehicle distributors he thinks fit.

(6) The guide for the second and subsequent years shall include the figures for the previous year.").

The noble Earl said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 425. Amendment No. 392 deals with the costs of operating goods vehicles. That is desirable for a number of reasons. First, new operators in the road haulage industry enter wearing rose-tinted spectacles and do not fully understand their costs of operation. Often they do not understand the costs of tyre wear, depreciation or maintenance. Secondly, frequently customers do not understand the full cost of a transport operation either and, therefore, they may not realise that their haulier may be operating illegally to achieve a competitive rate. Finally, the Government must understand that if fuel taxes are increased the costs of the industry will also increase and their competitive position will suffer.

If it is the Government's intention to show that the cost of transport is increasing rapidly due to the Chancellor's sterling efforts, surely they will want the decision-makers in industry to be aware of that so that they can modify and reduce the amount of transport for which they contract. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Whitty

My contacts with the road haulage industry have not suggested that they wear rose-tinted spectacles or that they have little idea of the costs that face them. I believe the opposite is the case. To put a requirement on the face of the Bill for the Government to produce a year two publication seems to be unnecessary. A better way to approach the matter is through the process to which I referred earlier: through regular meetings of the Road Haulage Forum. This morning we discussed the work of one of the sub-groups that is looking at the statistical base of information on the road haulage industry. Likewise, that will cover some aspects of the fiscal side. The production of a report on the fiscal barriers to all modes of transport does not seem to me to be the appropriate way to do that. It should be part of an overall approach to transport on the one hand and an overall approach to fiscal management on the other given by the Chancellor. A requirement by the Government to produce by law a report in these terms does not seem to me to be sensible.

The Government will continue to look at the case for further fiscal measures in the context of the 10-year transport plan and fiscal measures may be one of the ways in which we achieve the objectives of that plan. To produce a separate report on those matters, as the second amendment in the group would require, is not an approach that finds favour with the Government. I hope that the noble Earl will not proceed with the amendment.

Earl Attlee

I thank the Minister for his reply. He mentioned the Road Haulage Forum. I look forward to reading the feedback in the next couple of issues of the Commercial Motor. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bradshaw moved Amendment No. 393:

After Clause 256, insert the following new clause—