HC Deb 14 February 1991 vol 185 cc536-7W
Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the principal achievements of his Department since June 1987.

Mr. Rifkind

My Department has ensured that Britain's growing transport needs are met with regard to safety, efficiency and with proper respect for the environment.

Investment in transport infrastructure by both the public and private sectors has been greatly increased. British Rail's investment this year is over 50 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1986–87 and London Transport's is 85 per cent. higher; investment in national roads in England is 70 per cent. higher. Massive investment is already in progress to provide rail and road links to the channel tunnel from the day it opens. The Government's spending plans provide for further substantial increases in investment over the next few years, particularly in London Transport, British Rail and air traffic control.

The private sector also now has a greatly enhanced role in the provision of transport infrastructure, most notably in the channel tunnel, authorised by the 1987 Act, in roads and bridges such as the Dartford-Thurrock bridge, the second Severn bridge and the Birmingham northern relief road, and in airports such as BAA's new terminal at Stansted. The BAA was privatised in 1987 and the privatisation of the National Bus Company was completed in 1988.

The United Kingdom Government have been in the forefront of moves to achieve greater liberalisation in the provision of transport services in the European Community, where there has been considerable progress on aviation, road haulage and shipping, in international aviation, and in Britain's docks through the abolition of the dock labour scheme.

Transport safety is being enhanced through investment, regulation and publicity. We have approved British Rail's plans to spend £330 million for specific safety measures over the next three years—all that it asked for—and London Underground plans to invest approaching £400 million in further safety improvements over that period. Following a major review of road safety in 1987, the Government set a target of a one third reduction in road accident casualties by the year 2000. This is being implemented vigorously through legislation, including this Session's Road Traffic Bill, through low-cost road engineering schemes and through enhanced publicity campaigns under the safety on the move umbrella, notably on drinking and driving and child road safety. Numerous measures have been taken to improve ferry safety; and both aviation and maritime security are being tightened up, assisted by the new powers in the 1990 Act.

Stringent new European limits for vehicle emissions have been agreed, and unleaded petrol is rapidly supplanting leaded. Careful environmental assessments are undertaken for all national road schemes, and new roads are now being blended into the environment through more imaginative landscaping. More stringent limits on noise levels have been introduced for both road vehicles and aircraft.

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