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Column 763years that we priced marginally the cost of a journey by train, plane, taxi or bus, but not by motor car or goods vehicle. There is also the question of integrating planning with our transport, which is a part of demand management. Urban congestion, charging and road pricing are also involved. Of course, the management of demand can also refer to the management of the consequences of demand, and that is different. The consequences of demand include the congestion and pollution to which my hon. Friend referred. We must address also the important issues, such as whether it is the number of cars or the number in use at any one time. We must do much research with the motor industry, which is concerned that the number of vehicles will fall in the coming years. That would be bad for employment in this country. The Government are often criticised for our failure to achieve long-term planning. The current roads programme was envisaged and detailed in 1989 in a White Paper.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have been engaged since August last year in a prioritisation review of the road programme in this country. One of the motives for that is the establishment of the Highways Agency, which will be up and running from 5 April and will be charged with our road programme and the planning and maintenance which eats up such a substantial and growing part of the roads budget.
That will leave Ministers with rather more time to concentrate on proper integrated transport policies. Of course, it is right that we should encourage the use of modes of transport other than motor car. We must also recognise that the car will be with us for a long time. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that this afternoon I was the co-chairman of the Greener Motoring Forum, which was established by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside. The forum had representatives from car manufacturers, motoring organisations, local authorities and a number of other people who are interested in the future of transport in this country. That included the Department of Trade and
Column 764Industry, because we do not build roads for fun. We build roads, and improve and maintain them, to ensure the economic prosperity of this country.
My hon. Friend said in the Leicester Mercury on 16 October 1993--I am sure that he remembers it as if it were yesterday--that, if we are to have roads, we must take account of the people who already live near them and their ancient rights of way.
My hon. Friend mentioned the Grand Union canal and the dismantled railway that traverses his constituency in the area of Glen Parva. I have so much sympathy for his constituent who described what the area was like some years ago.
I am sorry that we were not able to accept the Glen Parva bypass for transport supplementary grant in 1994-95. Competition for funds was fierce this year, particularly as it has been necessary to reduce funding for local transport infrastructure by 15 per cent. Even more rigorous scrutiny of local authority bids than usual was warranted in the light of the current economic climate. The decision letter to Leicestershire county council included some detailed advice on bidding for funding for new major schemes in the context of the package bids for funding in urban areas.
I know that I shall have to end on this note, Madam Deputy Speaker. Package bids are a new feature of our transport supplementary grant. It means that we can invite local authorities to put together integrated transport bids that give proper attention not only to the motor car, to roads and to the quality of life of people who live beside roads as well as those who use them, but to cyclists and to pedestrians.
I shall shortly announce a new Government cycling policy. I am not sure that we have ever had one, but it is high time that we did. Also, we shall encourage local authorities in those package bids to bid for pedestrianisation schemes, which will add so much to the quality of life.
The Department of Transport is accused of many things. It cannot be accused of failing to look forward with optimism and realism to the needs of the next century. It is a demanding challenge, and one which I accept. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to air some of the arguments tonight.
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at five minutes past Eleven o'clock.
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