HC Deb 19 March 1987 vol 112 cc565-6W
Mr. Sayeed

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he proposes to make any changes to the values of time used in transport appraisal in view of the research sponsored by his Department.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

In the light of the evidence from this research we intend to make substantial changes to the values of non-working time. We have today published new values in a report "Values for Journey Time Savings and Accident Prevention". A copy has been placed in the Library.

Values associated with time savings, injury and loss of life have been used for many years in economic appraisals of transport policy, projects and operations. The values of time recommended by the Department have been updated regularly to take account of changing prices and income. Values of time spent on such non-work activities as shopping, holidaying and commuting are based on research originally carried out in the 1960s. A new programme of research into the value of this non-working time, using modern techniques and more recent data, has now been completed and the results have been used to formulate the new values given in the report. The research evidence is contained in a report "The Value of Travel Time Savings", which has been published separately by the consortium of researchers who carried out the studies for the Department.

The most significant finding was that people are willing to pay more to reduce the amount of their own time spent travelling. The new values in the report reflect this finding. The report also gives new values for the average cost of casualties. While separate research into this area has also been undertaken, no conclusive empirical evidence has emerged. In these circumstances it is our judgment that, for the present, the weight currently attributed to accident savings relative to time savings should be maintained. The values of accident savings have been derived on this basis, but we will keep this matter under review.

We are concerned to minimise uncertainty on road improvement schemes already at public inquiry or awaiting a final decision from the Secretaries of State for Transport and the Environment. It is therefore important that final decisions on the new values are reached quickly. Before reaching these decisions we propose to have a short period (four weeks) of consultation with experts in the field and others who may wish to comment. Current values of time and accident costs will continue to be used until we make a further announcement on the new values.

The Secretaries of State for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will also be considering whether to use the new values in transport investment decisions in their countries. The aim would be to maintain a consistent approach throughout the United Kingdom. With major changes of this kind, we shall of course be looking closely at how the proposals work in practice.

The research represents an important step forward in our understanding of the value people attach to the time they spend travelling outside their working hours. The proposals will properly reflect this new appreciation in our assessments of value for money in transport. The new values of casualty costs underline our continuing commitment to make our roads safer for all users.