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Mr. Dunn : My hon. Friend makes a very valid point, to which I am sure he will return when he catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, later in the debate.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) rightly and properly declared an interest in the debate. He said that he is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, and was proud to be a member, as were his father and grandfather before him. We know that the Labour party represents the monopoly interest--the supplier/provider interest. I, too, want to declare an interest : I declare that I represent the people of Dartford, and I represent the commuters of Dartford who have suffered at the hands of monopoly providers for decades. My constituents, along with those of many of my colleagues, look forward to the full impact of the Government's privatisation policies in breaking the monopoly control over transport.

I have looked forward to debating the motion proposed by the official Opposition on their Supply day, but when the shadow Cabinet meet to discuss their success or

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otherwise in today's debate, they will have to consider it a failure. There are 39 words in the Opposition's motion, but it says nothing. The speech by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras also said nothing. The motion says nothing, it does nothing and, quite frankly, it is nothing.

I turn to a number of aspects of Government policy. Over the years, we have seen the effect of massive liberalisation on a number of transport institutions. One example is the port of Felixstowe, which was set free in 1988 and has gone from success to success since then. In 1967 the number of fixed container units moved through Felixstowe was 18,522. By 1993, the figure had increased out of all recognition, to 1,137,947. The success of the port continues.

I ask the Government, however, to ensure, in the Council of Ministers, that the unfair subsidies that European port authorities receive are terminated. In Rotterdam, about $28 billion of public money is to be spent on infrastructure, plus $4 billion or $5 billion of private money. That is an unfair, unwarranted and probably illegal subsidy--yet all the advances that are to be made at Felixstowe will be financed by the port itself. There are a number of other successful examples across the UK.

I should like to remind the Minister of the success of the Dartford river crossing. Some time ago, legislation was introduced to this House to allow the private sector to develop, build, run and finance the Queen Elizabeth II bridge. Since it was opened, the bridge has been a huge success for Greater London and the home counties. The project was completed and opened on time and within budget, to the benefit of the road and commercial users of the south-east. Equally, the success of the Government's policy of introducing Networker trains on the Kent lines is proving of immeasurable benefit to the people I represent. As more and more Networker trains are introduced across the southern region, many of our constituents who have had to suffer a poor and unreliable service for many years will benefit.

I want to pick up a point made by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey), who referred to the need for a new Greater London council. I believe that it is now the official policy of the Labour party that such a council should be set up again. [Hon. Members :-- "You are behind the times, Bob."] Well, it was announced in the newspaper today, as part of Labour's London election campaign, that the Leader of the Opposition now backs such a council.

Lady Olga Maitland : What will it cost ?

Mr. Dunn : Not only that : what will it do ? When I was a Minister in the Department of Education and Science I was involved in the abolition of the GLC, and I personally abolished the Inner London education authority. [Interruption.] These events took place a long time ago ; let us just say that there was a difference of opinion--and I am still here.

I should like to ask the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Raynsford) some questions which he may answer when he winds up the debate. He is a courteous and well informed man, if philosophically wrong, but I am sure that he will do his best to answer my questions.

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What will a new GLC cost ; what will it do ; and, significantly for the people of Kent, where will its boundaries be ? We all know that the old GLC boundaries extended to Bexley, and Kent extended from Dartford thereafter

Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley) : Why does not the hon. Gentleman talk about transport ?

Mr. Dunn : I am talking about it in the context of the GLC, which would be a transport body, and I want to know about the boundaries. Will they come down at the M25, meaning that half my constituency will be under the GLC and the other half not ? Will it extend further, to Maidstone ; or will there be a super new regional authority, ending at Boulogne ? I should like answers to these questions. To return to the Liberal party : I am sorry for the hon. Member for North Devon, who has had to be here alone all day today

Lady Olga Maitland : Where are they all ?

Mr. Dunn : Perhaps it is indelicate to ask. The truth is that the Liberal party is becoming a hokey-cokey party. I am sure we all remember the old children's game : "Put your right arm in, your right arm out ; in, out, in, out, shake it all about. You do the hokey cokey and you turn around : that's what it's all about." Or perhaps the Liberals are the zig- zag party--they seem to have different ideas on each succeeding day.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St.Pancras--to return to the Labour party-- talked about the problem of car congestion in London. As with much of the rest of his speech, he defined some problems, made some rhetorical statements and huffed and puffed in the way we know, love and have to cope with, but he did not tell us what the Labour party is going to do about the problem--he made no suggestions about what the Government should do to ease car congestion.

There are, of course, many ideas--park-and-ride facilities, enhancing public transport, perhaps making better use of the Thames, as the hon. Member for Vauxhall rightly suggested. But what would Labour actually do, given its contempt for red routes and other useful measures that are already in full force ? The answer is that Labour Members want to tax the motorist.

Interestingly, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras mentioned a number of by-election constituencies, but he failed to mention Dagenham. Why ? Because the policies of the Labour party do not sit well in Dagenham, because Dagenham is the centre of the Ford Motor Company. The workers in Dagenham do not want to hear about policies that would affect the sale and manufacture of motor cars, because they would mean fewer jobs.

Mr. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich) : I shall answer some of the hon. Gentleman's questions later, but to help him out of his suspense and agony, I had better put him right on one thing now. The Labour party will be fighting a number of by-elections in the seats of hon. Members who have died. We do not regard a significant number of them as contests into which we need to put an enormous amount of effort, because they are Labour-held seats. We are, however, putting an enormous amount of effort into Eastleigh, and we intend to win it.

Mr. Dunn : I look forward to getting my answers later. The point of an Opposition Supply day, surely, is to

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highlight what they perceive as weaknesses in Government policy and to give the Opposition a chance to set out their own wares. They have singularly failed to do the latter today.

Finally-- [Hon. Members :-- "Hear, hear."] I might, however, go on-- I should like to end on a constituency note. The Minister knows that both I and my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) are extremely attached to the need for a new international station at Ebbsfleet. It would have an enormous impact on the region that I represent. It would regenerate rundown areas and provide opportunities for commuters from west Kent to enter London more conveniently. I hope that it will not be too long before we have a response to the Minister's undertaking of a while ago that he will announce which of the sites he intends to endorse for the international railway station.

I have been disappointed with the quality of the speeches by Opposition Members this evening--we have learnt little from them, but that is hardly surprising. Our policies are working in transport as elsewhere, and I commend them to the House.

6.39 pm

Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley) : It will come as no surprise to Ministers that I shall confine my remarks to the M62 bypass, which was proposed a long time ago. I also want to draw attention to the duplicity of Ministers and officials in the way the whole affair has been conducted so far.

It started life as the Greater Manchester western and northern relief route, which appeared first in the 1989 White Paper which, as most White Papers do, first saw the light of day at the end of July, just before the summer recess. It was not until the end of that year that I had time to have a close look at the White Paper, and realised that my constituency and neighbouring constituencies in the trans-Pennine corridor would be afflicted with yet another motorway. It was always going to be a major motorway development--in fact, a new motorway--but the duplicity of Ministers came about when, piecemeal, they dripped out three stages of different motorways, which were to become one big motorway. They talked about the A580 bypass, which was to be phase 1, the M56-M62 relief road, which was phase 2, and the M62-M66 relief road, which was phase 3. Taken together, the three phases meant one huge new motorway where one already exists.

A subsequent Minister promised that the whole project would be put together and not be in three parts, following pressure from myself and other hon. Members. The Government subsequently reneged on that promise, and we were left with two sections of the Greater Manchester western and northern relief route to be taken together.

Ministers argued throughout that the route from the M6 to the M66 was vital. However, when the second part of the route was treated separately-- this is where Ministers made fools of themselves--it was dropped, ostensibly because there were 6,000 objections. The original concept had gone, so they had to find a new title for what has turned out to be a 14- lane highway through the village of Worsley in my constituency and through the constituencies of other hon. Members, resulting in the destruction of about 500 houses and blight on properties throughout the Greater Manchester conurbation.

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What sticks in my craw about the whole business is that Ministers and Departments do not seem to talk to each other. The whole justification for a 14-lane highway going through a picturesque village is that the Department of Transport insists that there will be 140 per cent. growth in road traffic between now and 2010. Contributing to that growth, the same Ministers have granted permission for a sub-regional shopping centre at Dumplington, which is three miles south of junction 13 of the M62, with 14,000 car parking places.

Even Ministers in this Government will realise that, if there are 14,000 parking spaces, silly people will drive cars to park on them, and then they will go back again. It is my contention, and that of anybody who uses the roads in the area, that the current congestion is caused not by commuter traffic from Hull to Liverpool or by people using the motorway to get to Manchester airport ; it is local commuter traffic.

I drive 35,000 to 40,000 miles a year. I use the motorways, but most of my journeys are short hops from one part of my constituency to another, or to go shopping locally in adjoining towns. Local traffic causes the problem. The Government and Ministers are increasing the problem by allowing the Manchester Ship Canal Company, which happens to fist money to the Tory party, to build a sub-regional shopping centre that nobody wants--not local authorities or the people who inhabit the area.

In addition, three miles north, the same Manchester Ship Canal Company, through a subsidiary, plans to build two 18-hole golf courses to replicate the Belfry in the midlands, with international golf tournaments that would draw people in from all over the world. The proposed 14-lane highway will need to be a 20-lane highway before I retire--I am absolutely sure of that. Those are the inconsistencies. The planning system has gone mad when Ministers cannot recognise that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy to say there will be a sufficient increase in traffic in the area to justify the building of a 14-lane highway.

On the question of the amenities in the area which would be devastated by the building of such a highway, let us talk briefly about pollution. It is my view, corroborated by people who know more about these things than I do, that European limits on pollution are already exceeded by the traffic on the M62.

There are already enormous asthma problems. At one school alongside the existing motorway, the incidence of asthma far exceeds that which one would expect in an inner-city school. I am talking about what is by and large a country area. It would be irresponsible in the extreme for Ministers to ignore that.

I should like to pay tribute to Salford city council, which, despite the fact that it has been crucified by the Government in terms of what it can spend ratepayers' money on, recently invested in a very expensive laboratory system which matches any monitoring and analysis carried out by the Department of Transport. If it comes to a public inquiry, I can assure Ministers that the weight of evidence that will be produced on pollution will be at least as powerful as anything the Department of Transport can produce.

Mrs. Dunwoody : Is my hon. Friend aware that pollution is not the only danger ? A recent road check of vehicles carrying hazardous materials on the M62 revealed

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that 60 per cent. of the vehicles were breaking the law, and one was carrying 22 tonnes of explosive ammonium nitrate.

Mr. Lewis : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. I was about to mention some of the difficulties that I have experienced in following those loads on the M62. That takes me nicely on to the other problem of congestion in the Irwell valley.

When the vehicles to which my hon. Friend referred reach the Irwell valley, congestion is caused as soon as they get onto the gradient. It is no good talking about crawler lanes, as there are far too many vehicles to be accommodated in that way. As soon as they get onto the gradient, everything else is backed up behind them. What is the solution--another six lanes on the same gradient ? Instead of having eight lanes with heavy vehicles causing back-ups, the same problem will be replicated in another six lanes.

The cost of all that is £29 million a mile. According to Ministers, 11 miles of motorway will solve all the problems of congestion on the M62. It is a pity that the Secretary of State is no longer in the Chamber. He asked where the money would come from for Labour party policies. The answer is simple. I will save the Minister £320 million now--mind you, I would not mind giving lengthy odds that it will be very much more than £320 million before it is actually built, if it ever is built.

If that £320 million were spent on other projects to take people such as me off the motorway, it would be money far more sensibly spent. That is the debate we want, but that is the debate that Ministers are avoiding, and they do so by using the rhetoric that the Secretary of State used this afternoon.

Let me talk about one of the alternatives. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) mentioned the Manchester metrolink. In its first year, that saved 1.5 million car journeys from Bury and Altrincham into Manchester--two of the main commuter routes to Manchester from the surrounding towns. Those people left their cars in Bury and Altrincham. Their wives or husbands took them to the station and they travelled to work and back on the metrolink.

If the Minister wants proof of that, I invite him to go to the multi-storey car park at the Chorlton street bus station, where three years ago one did not even look for a space but drove straight up the ramp to the top because it was full. If one goes now at any time during the day, one can park on the second floor ; that is because people have chosen to leave their cars at home.

Local bypasses are a good idea. The Irlam bypass, the second phase of which has again been stalled by the Government, could easily, for an insubstantial amount of money, result in fewer journeys. As I have said, a section of the Government's intended road was dropped because of the weight of objections. Answers to questions that I have tabled in the past week reveal that the scheme has attracted the second highest number of objections of any scheme at any time in the country. The M6-M1 link in Yorkshire attracted the most, and this one has attracted no fewer than 18,500 objections to date.

In addition, well-established organisations oppose the scheme, including Residents Against the Motorway in my

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constituency, which has objected to it for four years, even before its details were known, because we knew that its effects would be devastating. I suspect that Ministers will not have proper regard to those, as they have been so determined all along, come what may, to develop the arguments in favour of the road.

The failures in Conservative transport policy are manifest in our area. The deregulation of buses has clearly put more people into cars on the road. The Government have failed to recognise the merits of metrolink, and the need to extend metrolink to other towns in the area such as Bolton, Wigan, Leigh and Salford should be taken on board, but I cannot see Ministers doing that.

Those failures have been manifest during the past few weeks, when the Conservative party has found it difficult to raise a candidate in the safest Conservative ward in the whole of Salford, which happens to be in my constituency. It was only two days before the election that one was found. I can see that you are getting restless, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall stay on the point.

That may have been because Conservative activists do not need to be elected these days ; they simply have to be appointed to quangos. But the Government's problems in Salford have more to do with their loony transport policies and the threat to put a 14-lane highway through what still remains a picturesque part of the Greater Manchester conurbation.

I urge Ministers to rethink. Do not let us have to go through the trauma of a public inquiry. The road is not wanted, the weight of opinion is against it, and if Ministers were democrats, they would drop the scheme now.

6.54 pm

Sir Peter Fry (Wellingborough) : I hope that the hon. Member for Worsley (Mr. Lewis) will not mind if I do not follow him through the intricacies of the M62. In the time available we should consider the wider transport issues.

I welcome the Opposition's choice of subject today, but I do not welcome much that has come from the Opposition Front or Back Benches. It is incredible that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) could table a motion for a debate on transport and speak for about 40 minutes without mentioning the means of transport used by an overwhelming number of people in Britain--the motor car. It is incredible and alarming.

At least the hon. Member for North Devon (Mr. Harvey) was honest about the Liberal Democrats being anti-car. I suspect that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras is equally anti-car, but perhaps he is not quite so naive as the Liberal Democrats and intends to keep that fact well away from the electors during the next few weeks. The Opposition's motion does not deserve much consideration. One need only consider transport as a whole to realise the enormous advances that have been made in recent years. For example, we should be proud that our airlines receive no subsidy. British Airways is a much smaller airline than the three great airlines in the United States, yet it can compete and cause the American airlines considerable problems, as a result of which, fares across the Atlantic are probably the lowest that they have ever been in real terms. Many of our fellow members of the European Union would be glad if they could say that their airlines did not need any further Government subsidy.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London, where the red routes have been

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highly successful in speeding up traffic and reducing emissions, and they have been a great advantage to the travelling public. With regard to the channel tunnel, let us not underestimate the importance and significance of the fact that we have been able to finance the one great civil engineering project of the end of the 20th century without the expenditure of public money. That is very much to the credit of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Let us not forget the great movement for those people who are not so well off. It was the Government who revolutionised coach traffic in Britain, enabling people with modest means to travel much further much more often and much more reasonably than ever before. Despite the fact that the number of bus passengers has dropped, more route miles are being served now and the public has a better service than it has had for many years in many parts of the country.

Another delight of the Opposition is the light rail system, and the Government deserve credit for the start of light rail systems in certain cities. But above all, the Government have recognised that the British people have voted not with their feet but with their steering wheels. They want to use their motor cars. It is the Government who say that we must live with the motor car. Our policies are designed so that the British people have the choice. But we are taking action on matters such as the use of lead in petrol, exhaust emissions and ways in which to control rather than prevent the undue use of the motor car.

Over the years I have made a number of contributions to these debates. During that time I have seen many Secretaries of State for Transport and Opposition spokesmen, and I have put forward one or two ideas which I have been rather surprised and pleased to see accepted.

For example, I suggested many years ago, first, that we divide the operation of the rail track from the running of services. I am delighted that that is now Government policy. Secondly, at the end of the bus Bill, I suggested that many areas should have a kind of franchised competitive tendering. I believe that it is as a result of the Government adopting that policy in London that London buses are so successful now and will be in future.

Thirdly, I suggested that we should introduce shadow tolls on our motorways. I remember a debate with my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary to the Treasury in which he did not think very much of the idea. I am delighted now to hear my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State say that it is part of Government policy. I do not mention those things to boast

Mr. Snape : No ?

Sir Peter Fry : No. The hon. Gentleman knows that I am not like that. I mention it because I believe that these debates provide Back Benchers with the opportunity to suggest some new ideas, which, hopefully, will be considered by Ministers and might well form part of future policy. I believe that to be the function of Back Benchers, not to make snide and personal remarks across the Floor of the House.

Before I sit down, I shall make one or two suggestions for consideration. The Government's amendment to the Opposition motion calls for

"more efficient and effective delivery for all users"

and says that that should be the key for transport policy in this country.

We all know what the problem with aviation is at the moment--too many operators want to come into Heathrow

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and there is a shortage of slots. The much delayed forecast that all the aircraft that would be landing would be 747s and, therefore, that one could reduce the distance and time between aircraft of different types, has not come about. Some years ago, I witnessed the cross-runway operations at a number of US Air Force bases. I believe that, with increased efficiency of air traffic control, we could look at that again to see whether that could be a relief for Heathrow. Secondly, we should look also at the possible use of Northolt airport for general aviation, which would reduce a considerable number of slots and help to solve some of the disputes that are taking place nationally and internationally over civil aviation. I have long been aware that the problem of rail financing in this country, certainly in terms of revenue support, is not InterCity, or even Network SouthEast, but the cross country regional routes, which, except in a few cases, are so very expensive and costly to the taxpayer. I suggest to my right hon. Friends that perhaps the time has come to see whether responsibility for the more local rail routes should follow the responsibility that already exists for bus routes, or be devolved to local authorities.

If local people want the survival of those branch lines, I fail to see why the rest of the taxpayers and the rest of the country should necessarily justify it. If the argument is that those lines are feeder routes into the new main lines, for the first time those people who are operating the new routes will be able to see whether that is a worthwhile contribution and whether they should put any money into the pot to subsidise the purely local lines.

Thirdly, let us look at light rail. I believe that only a limited number of projects can come forward, but we are running into some problems with financing. For a while, I acted as a consultant to south Yorkshire passenger transport executive. The problem there is that, although the Government guarantee the original capital investment, at a later stage, moneys have to be paid in by component councils, and often the choice is whether they make their full contribution, or whether, perhaps, they make a teacher redundant, or take on an extra crossing patrol. I suggest that, in those cases, where we are dealing with a large project, perhaps the expenditure on those light rail schemes should be ring fenced.

The biggest area of concern, as I said earlier, is urban congestion and the use of the private car. Most people in this country are not aware that we are still well behind many other countries in the number of cars per thousand that we own. We are way behind the United States, and are still behind Germany, France and Italy--just to mention three more ; and that at a time when the number of people travelling on our railways has remained static for some 30 years and the number of people travelling on our buses, despite the extra route miles, is dropping.

I believe that any transport policy that does not recognise the desire of the mass of our people to have their own personal form of transport and be able to use it will be doomed to failure. That is why I welcome the Government's road programme. It is realistic. The widening of the motorways means that not only are we serving the economic causes of this country but we are enabling people to get about it in a fairly easy manner. I reject the arguments that we should not widen the motorways. It seems to me that, in the long run, the only alternative is new motorways driven across open country. Most people do not want that.

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There are one or two things, however, that the Government should do. In the urban context, we should avoid, at all costs, bullying the motorist. Before we think about road pricing, we should examine every other option to make public transport more attractive to the motorist. Park and ride has been suggested, but in London it would be exceedingly expensive to implement. One would need extra slip roads off the motorways, large areas for parking, many car parks would have to be built and a high degree of security would be necessary. Let us not underestimate the cost of what is needed, but that would make a very great contribution.

I regret to say that one of the areas in which money is still wasted is that we still cannot get the Treasury to agree the projected traffic flows of a road rather than those that it maintains are there at the moment, and what it will finance. I shall cite two cases. On the A45, in my constituency, a separated junction had to be built three years after it was made a dual carriageway road because of the high number of accidents. The dualling of Higham Ferrers bypass will now go-ahead in the next year thanks to my hon. Friends, but which should have been dualled in the first place.

But perhaps the most significant case is that which affects my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman), who will reply to the debate, and myself--the A1-M1 link, the A14, for which he had to fight tooth and nail to get dualled in the first instance. Originally, it was to be a single traffic road with passing places. I suggest that by looking a bit further ahead and by the Treasury being more realistic, we could save public money and, indeed, have a better public transport system.

I do not want to delay the House any further. I am aware of the large number of people wishing to speak, but I hope that I have put forward one or two ideas that my right hon. Friends might consider. I believe that the job of Ministers is to be prepared to listen to new ideas, be willing to be original--they have shown that in many respects in recent years--at the same time show concern for the needs of the economy and, above all, for what the people of this country want.

Those are the basics for the right kind of transport policy. From all that we have heard this afternoon, I have no confidence in the Opposition parties being able to supply that and every confidence that my right hon. and hon. Friends will fulfil those conditions. Therefore, I have great pleasure in supporting the Government's amendment.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : Order. I remind hon. Members that from the present time until 9 pm, speeches will be limited to 10 minutes.

7.8 pm

Mr. Keith Hill (Streatham) : It might charitably be said that the tenor of the speech of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Sir P. Fry) was one of premature super-optimism, given his description of the triumphs of the Government's transport record in recent years. He congratulated them on the success of their red routes programme in London ; he will clearly be surprised to discover that only one pilot red route is in existence, and that the remainder will not come on stream for another two

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years. I rather doubt whether they will prove quite the success that the hon. Gentleman imagines. He was right, however, to draw attention to the problem of urban congestion--although his conclusions were wrong.

After 15 years of Tory rule, the defects of our transport system are still draining the nation's economy of a ruinous £15 billion a year in congestion costs. That estimate was published by the Confederation of British Industry three or four years ago and, as far as I am aware, the Department of Transport has never seriously challenged it. In real terms, the figure is doubtless higher now. The transport system is in a mess and it is getting worse.

Since bus deregulation in 1985, travel by bus in cities has declined by 25 per cent. In many cities, travel by bike represents fewer than 6 per cent. of all journeys, which reflects the appalling lack of facilities and the risks faced by cyclists. It has been observed that nowadays travel by bus and train in any combination requires military-style planning and perseverance ; and, for the vast majority of women, public transport outside peak hours is a no-go area because of the loss of staff offering security and surveillance.

Our children are effectively denied the option of walking or cycling to school because of the unacceptably high levels of traffic danger to which they are now routinely exposed. The crazy consequence of that is that at least 25 per cent. of traffic on urban roads during the morning peak hour consists of cars taking children to school. It is a vicious circle and, given current indications, it can only get worse.

It is all very well for the Secretary of State for the Environment to launch his famous planning policy guidance 13 initiative against the "great car economy". The Department of Transport is still persisting with its forecast of an increase of between 83 and 142 per cent. in traffic growth by the year 2025. There is no sign of a change of heart and every sign that the Department is still stuffed full of "old believers" ; given the evidence so far, some of them are sitting on the Government Front Bench. Traffic growth on that scale will spell disaster for our great cities, not least London. Two years ago, in my maiden speech--which I am sure hon. Members well recall--I noted the logjam in infrastructure developments in London. Since then, we have seen a faltering start on the docklands extension of the Jubilee line--the scheme, incidentally, with the lowest cost-benefit assessment in the central London rail study. There is still no progress on Thameslink 2000--which had the highest cost-benefit assessment- -or on the east London line, and we are now receiving ominous signals about the future of crossrail. If the Government use traffic forecasts as an excuse to scupper that scheme, it will constitute an enormous vote of no confidence in the future of London's economy and an enormous blow to commuters.

Paris is about to embark on its fifth cross-regional railway. The French take the view that investment in the public transport infrastructure is a positive and creative contribution to the economy. We should adopt the same approach. In any case, all the evidence points to the fact that new transport infrastructure generates its own traffic. Look at the M25--if you can bear it. What is true for the M25 will also be true for crossrail. The Government should get on with it straight away.

My constituency needs those priority central London schemes. We want them on stream, so that a start can finally be made on the extension of the Northern line to

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Streatham which the people of Streatham were first promised in 1926. The truth is that there is a vast need for more investment in public transport and bike and pedestrian facilities in London and elsewhere, which is simply not being met.

Of course, the Government will throw up their hands in protest and claim that they are spending loads of money on public transport in London and elsewhere. According to the famous statistic of the Minister for Transport in London, for every £1 spent on roads in London, £3 is spent on public transport. What the Minister omitted to say was that the £1 does not include local council spending on roads and that the £3 includes all spending on Network SouthEast from Peterborough to Exeter. That is a nonsensical statistic.

Mr. Tony Banks : The Minister should get on his feet and answer that.

Mr. Hill : No, I have no time to give way.

Then there is the Secretary of State's claim, made three weeks ago in the House when he announced his trunk road review, that real spending on London Underground is six times greater now than it was in 1979. He amended that claim this evening, stating that it was three times greater : I always observe a certain shakiness in the right hon. Gentleman's approach to statistics.

Mr. Banks : And the Tories were in county hall in 1979.

Mr. Hill : My hon. Friend is right : the Secretary of State was comparing the present position with what was happening at a time when the Conservatives were in charge of London's public transport spending.

Capital, the transport campaign for London, has made a careful analysis of spending on the London underground in the 14 years since 1979. That analysis reveals that the real increase is 10 per cent., not the 600 per cent. claimed by the Secretary of State. That is peanuts in the context of the needs of an aging London underground system : the Northern line has had no new fleet since the second world war.

Mr. Norris : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Hill : Very briefly.

Mr. Norris : Will the hon. Gentleman simply specify how much more money he is committing his party to spend in London this year, next year and the year after that ? I am sure that the House would be grateful if he could tell us.

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