Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum Submitted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) (IT 76)



  1. This is the IoD's response to the invitation to comment on the issues raised in the Government's White Paper on the Future of Transport [A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, Cm 3950, The Stationery Office (TSO), London, July 1998]. We have also taken into account some of the companion publications to the White Paper [such as A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), London, July 1998].


  2. We have not attempted a comprehensive review of all aspects of the White Paper. We intend to respond to the Government as appropriate, and as the various more focused documents referred to in Annex A of the White Paper become available. However, the main points we wish to make at present are summarised below:

    (a)  We welcome the mention in the White Paper of the importance of an efficient transport system for a strong and prosperous economy. Both transport and parking facilities are very important factors in determining the physical location of a business. See paragraph 5 of this response.

    (b)  For business travel, cars or other motor vehicles predominate, followed by train or Underground, aircraft, walking, buses and cycling. The majority are pleased with the use of cars and aircraft for this purpose, as they are with walking when on business. Over half of the directors whose organisations use buses for any sort of business travel are dissatisfied with this form of transport. See paragraphs 7 and 8.

    (c)  For freight transport road vehicles again predominate, followed by aircraft, trains and other modes including transport by sea and inland waterway. Satisfaction is highest with road transport, air freight and other modes. Levels of satisfaction with rail freight are not as high as they might be. Further consultation on freight policy is essential. See paragraphs 9-11.

    (d)  We concur with the view that road traffic congestion can cost organisations a great deal. See paragraph 12. IoD members surveyed recently were almost evenly split as to their views on congestion charging, and we would urge that any consultation about pilot schemes or further implementation is indeed fully comprehensive (see paragraphs 27-30). Our members do not in general support the idea of charging for use of motorways and trunk roads (see paragraph 31 and 32).

    (e)  Our members and many other sections of society are strongly opposed to the idea of local councils being able to levy workplace parking charges (see paragraphs 33-36, and XII in the Annex). Given the present situation of lack of realistic alternatives to car use in very many locations, we are very concerned indeed that such proposals would lead to even greater problems than they are intended to solve, by way of costs to business and loss of morale of employees.

    (f)  We would support sensible moves to reduce accidents to all travellers, and business travellers including company car drivers in particular (see paragraph 24). As to company car use itself, our members' comments show that they are still an important tool in business, notwithstanding recent moves in favour of fuel allowances. See paragraph 42 and 43.

    (g)  There seems little rationale behind the notion of setting up another quango, the proposed Commission for Integrated Transport. See paragraph 25.

    (h)  We welcome the intention to involve business in drawing up transport plans, but are concerned that the intention to put much of the responsibility for such plans into the hands of local authorities could make for inconsistencies across the country and difficulties for organisations seeking to engage with the consultation. See paragraph 14.

    (i)  We cannot support the emphasis of making business pay more in connection with transport policies, that runs through much of the White Paper. Given the present recession in manufacturing it is surely not in the Government's or the country's best interests to impose further financial hardships at this time. See paragraphs 38 and 39.

    (j)  Much of the discussion around the notion of an integrated transport policy and matters such as "green" transport is too removed from people's direct experience. People are unlikely to make changes in their personal behaviour if they do not see benefits, so some of the calls for changing transport modes seem somewhat unrealistic in the short-term at least. See paragraphs 47 and 48, and also page 15 herein for a selection of IoD members' comments.


  3. In the following, references are made to chapters and paragraphs in the White Paper.

  4. In our response we have incorporated the findings from several surveys of IoD members on matters pertaining to transport.


Paragraph 1.1

  5. We agree with the statement that "an efficient transport system is needed to support a strong and prosperous economy". As part of a self-completion postal questionnaire survey on business and the local environment, carried out in February-March 1998, IoD members were asked about transport links and business operation. Three-quarters of respondents thought that transport links and parking facilities were the most important factors determining business location. This was so for 70 per cent of directors in rural locations, and 77 per cent for those in urban areas.

Transport mode thought by IoD members to be "The Most Important"

to Business and to Customers (proportion of Members responding)

Transport modeFor business
Per cent
For customers
Per cent

Cycle routes and walkways3 3

1,511 respondents, excluding non-respondents. Totals exceed 100 per cent as they could choose more than one mode.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of February-March 1998.

  6. A later survey, specifically on transport, in August-September 1998, gave a cross-sectional picture of use of transport for both business travel and movement of freight, and IoD members' opinions of how well-served they were by the various modes.

  7. For business travel, out of 2,052 IoD members 99 per cent of their organisations used cars or other road vehicles, 83 per cent trains or Underground, 79 per cent aircraft, 27 per cent walking, 18 per cent buses and 6 per cent cycling. Around 4 per cent used other means, including boats.

  8. The question was asked as to how well each type of transport met needs for business travel. The results are as shown below.

Business Travel: Directors opinions of How well transport modes met needs (proportion of Members responding)

Very wellWell AdequatelyBadlyVery badly
ModePer centPer cent Per centPer centPer cent

Cars/other motors64 24101 0
Buses212 343517
Trains/Underground9 324413 2
Aircraft2449 2420
Cycling1632 31119
Walking2335 3355
Other3842 1910

2,048 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Some rows do not total 100 per cent because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  Members were generally very well pleased with use of cars and aircraft. Those who walked when on business also tended to be pleased with this form of travel, with satisfaction levels for the 18 per cent of organisations who used cycling being somewhat less than satisfaction with walking. The highest levels of dissatisfaction were over buses.

  9. For freight transport, 1,152 IoD members showed that 96 per cent of their organisations used lorries, vans or other motor vehicles, 47 per cent aircraft, 13 per cent trains and 20 per cent other means, including barges, boats and ships.

  10. Opinions were sought as to how well the various transport modes served freighting needs, with the following findings:
Freight transport: directors' opinions of how well transport modes met needs (proportion of members responding)

Very wellWell AdequatelyBadlyVery badly
ModePer centPer cent Per centPer centPer cent

Lorries/vans/other motor55 33120 0
Trains935 38144
Aircraft3243 2320
Other3246 2010

1,139 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Not all rows total 100 per cent, because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  Satisfaction was highest with road freight, followed by "other" and air freight. It should be noted that satisfaction with rail freight was not as high as it could be.

  11. We await the DETR document on freight policy and sustainable distribution, but in the meantime endorse the view of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) that direct consultation with the freight industry will be essential as the detailed proposals are built up (letter to the IoD from BIFA, 25 August 1998).

Paragraph 1.7

  12. In our transport survey we asked IoD members' opinions about the cost to their organisation of road traffic congestion. The results are as shown:
Road traffic congestion: directors' estimates of costs to their organisation

Estimated costProportion of total
per cent

A great deal18
Quite a lot32
A moderate amount35
Very little15

2,009 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Total not 100 per cent because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  Clearly there are indications of high costs caused by traffic congestion.

Paragraph 1.22

  13. We concur with the desire to integrate transport policies with other Government policies, and applaud the mention of wealth creation as one of these.

Paragraph 1.45

  14. We welcome the intention for local consultation on transport plans to include the views of business. However, given that much of the White Paper aims to put the bulk of the detailed work in the hands of local authorities, we would raise serious concerns as to:

    (a)  whether all local authorities have sufficient resources in practice to comply with central Government standards in order to carry out useful and fair consultation, and consequently:

    (b)  the danger that there could be diverse administrative and technical procedures in different parts of the country that could make things less than transparent for business to be able to engage with the process. Also, lack of uniform procedures could make for widely-varying quality, time-scales and soundness of outcomes. All of these have the potential to lead to unnecessary costs to businesses and other organisations.


Paragraph 2.64

  15. We mentioned earlier (see paragraph 12) that road traffic congestion is a big issue, as seen by IoD members. Other things being equal, reduction levels for "public and private transport peak journey times of as much as 20-25 per cent in the centres of the largest urban areas by 2010" would be welcome if such reduction could be achieved without leading to comparable costs elsewhere. We would suggest that the full facts about both benefits and costs of congestion-reduction schemes be made available so that proper assessments can be made.


Paragraphs 3.7 to 3.12

  16. A telephone survey of 500 IoD members, conducted by NOP Business in June 1998 indicated that about 10 per cent of organisations encouraged people to walk to work (Health Matters in Business—Health at Work, IoD Research Paper, Geraint Day, IoD, London, August 1998). About the same proportion encouraged cycling to work.

  17. We recognise that walking and cycling can contribute to people's health, and would support the aims and schemes such as the Health Education Authority's "Active for Life" physical activity campaign. We would, though, point out that for the foreseeable future walking and cycling to work for the majority is not going to be a feasible option, however desirable these may otherwise be. In the case of cycling, the White Paper itself refers to concern about road safety being "a major reason for people not using their bikes for everyday journeys". No doubt some progress could be made but the practical limitations must be borne in mind.

Paragraphs 3.32 to 3.35

  18. With regard to rail freight, we examined some European Union figures for 1994 (EU Transport in Figures Statistical Pocketbook, first issue, Eurostat, European Commission, Luxembourg, 1997). Using these figures, it appeared that a 100 per cent increase in rail freight (as measured by the combination of mass times distance moved) in 1994 would have been equivalent to less than a 10 per cent reduction in road haulage. To have halved transport of goods by road by transferring to railways would have meant a rise in rail goods transport to almost seven times its then level (when it would have exceeded the proportion of the total that it had as long ago as 1952). This sort of comparison does not, of course, preclude consideration of changes at the margin in appropriate circumstances. Railtrack has a £17 billion investment programme for the next 10 years, but it is felt by some that no rail operator currently has budgeted the huge amounts that would be needed to make a very large shift between road and rail freight (e.g., Countdown to a Connected World, Press Pack, The Bathwick Group, sponsored by Oracle, Sun Microsystems, IoD and CSSA, 1998).

  This is notwithstanding Railtrack's own forecast of a tripling of railfreight volumes over the decade ("Regulator to test spending programme", Charles Batchelor and Jonathan Ford, Financial Times [FT], 27 March 1998, page 8).

  19. Clearly, increasing the throughput of freight by rail as compared with other modes of transport, particularly roads, would involve major changes from the present modal split. Once again, weighing up practical matters of access to and from rail-freight depots will in any case involve due consideration of use of roads and lorries, given that many parts of the country do not have local rail facilities, and will likely remain without for the immediate future. Accordingly, we would endorse BIFA's opinion that the present and near-term future situation is that an efficient and effective road infrastructure is still necessary for freight transport (letter to the IoD from BIFA, 25 August 1998).

Paragraphs 3.123 to 3.131

  20. We comment on trunk roads policy, and in particular on sections of publications associated with the White Paper itself. For comments specifically on A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England (DETR, July 1998), Please see the Annex to this submission.

Paragraph 3.145

  21. We welcome the idea of improved information for the driver, and in particular the mention in the White Paper of "a competitive market in more specialised travel information services supplied to individuals and companies" and for public-private sector partnerships. In the area of improving information for travellers using various modes of transport, study of best practice overseas may be of help.

Paragraph 3.155

  22. We reserve more detailed comment about freight once the DETR document on sustainable distribution has appeared.

Paragraph 3.189

  23. Given the importance of air transport to our members (see paragraphs 5-10), we note with approval that airports and regional airports have been on the Select Committee's agenda in recent months. We await the policy document on long-term UK airports policy before making further comments on air transport.

Paragraph 3.222

  24. We note the comment that company car drivers "are disproportionately involved in accidents". Assuming that this is based on sound epidemiological analysis of accident statistics, it would seem sensible to encourage better driving by professional drivers—in partnership with industry, as suggested in the White Paper. As around three million British drivers (12 per cent of the total) use company cars ("The nine lives of the company car", Jeff Daniels, Director, March 1998, pages 67-76), there must be the potential to reduce accident levels among this group of motorists.


Paragraph 4.4

  25. We would question the need to expend resources on yet another quango, the proposed Commission for Integrated Transport. Surely the ministerial structures of government can cope with the necessary policy and executive decisions needed to inform and enact changes that affect transport in the UK, drawing in expertise as needed? We would also note the apparently less than illustrious history of transport quangos (as reported in "Feedback", New Scientist, 8 August 1998, page 92). The National Transport Advisory Committee, set up in 1963 met five times in four years. Its replacement, the Freight Integration Council, was convened only a few times, produced two short reports (the second being of three pages, in 1973) and even then continued to exist until 1979, when the incoming government abolished it.

Paragraphs 4.12 to 4.16

  26. Plans to promote railways, including a Strategic Rail Authority with a remit to include freight interests could be of value, although the comments about extra quangos in paragraph 25 above should be borne in mind. We welcome the fact that there have been reopenings of railway stations—43 new stations opened by Railtrack since being separated from British Rail ("Groups push to keep rail line reopenings rolling", Charles Batchelor, FT, 17 September 1998, page 9). We must still keep things in perspective in the near future, before expecting that more people will voluntarily start using some of the more crowded commuter lines as an alternative means of travelling to and from work.

Paragraphs 4.92 to 4.99

  27. Our August-September transport survey of IoD members asked for our members' views about congestion charges. Survey findings are shown below.

Road traffic congestion charges: directors' opinions

OpinionProportion of total
Per cent

Support strongly12
Neither support nor oppose12
Oppose strongly25

2,031 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Total not 100 per cent because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August—September 1998.

  IoD members were almost evenly split on this; there was no statistically significant difference, with about 43 per cent supporting and 44 per cent against. Thus there would appear to be some merit in further investigating the idea. We would certainly want to be consulted about any proposals for practical implementation of any road user charging schemes, as mentioned in paragraph 4.98 of the White Paper.

  28. Judging by some trials conducted by the Universities of Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the latter city in 1997, charging for driving into urban centres may not do much by itself to reduce traffic congestion ("Money no object", Mick Hamer, New Scientist, 25 July 1998, page 12). Over two thirds of the albeit small number of participants (30) altered their journeys as a result, with the most popular alternative being to choose an alternative, even circuitous route. Peter Bonsall of Leeds University concluded that public transport would have to be improved if significant reductions in car use were to be achieved.

  29. There is some research evidence that access restrictions for urban areas applied without any accompanying restraint on cars in general may merely shift congestion to the suburbs ("Unintended Effects", paper by P B Goodwin, Economic and Social Research Council Transport Studies Unit, University College London).

  30. We think that it would be sensible to properly evaluate pedestrianisation schemes that have been introduced in cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin, as well as smaller scale schemes in Edinburgh, London and York ("Pedestrian schemes aim to set new pace", Charles Batchelor, FT, 31 August 1998, page 5).

Paragraphs 4.100 to 4.104

  31. Again, we asked for our members' views on the idea of charging for use of motorways and trunk roads in our recent transport survey. See the following table.

Charges for use of motorways or trunk roads: directors' opinions

OpinionProportion of total
Per cent

Support strongly10
Neither support nor oppose12
Oppose strongly28

2,042 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Total not 100 per cent because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  There was a majority against (52 per cent), with just over a third (36 per cent) in favour although 12 per cent were neither in favour nor against.

  32. As with any proposed congestion charging (see paragraphs 27-29 above) it is vital that further consultation be had about any trunk road and motorway charging.

Paragraphs 4.105 to 4.112

  33. The proposals about workplace parking in the White Paper have given rise to serious concerns on behalf of business. According to the results of our survey, 51 per cent of organisations provided such parking for all employees and a further 30 per cent did so for some employees. Some 75 per cent provided car parking spaces for customers and visitors.
Allowing councils to levy workplace parking charges: directors' opinions

OpinionProportion of total
Per cent

Support strongly5
Neither support nor oppose6
Oppose strongly61

2,040 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Total not 100 per cent because of rounding.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  There was very little support for this notion at all, with over 80 per cent being opposed to it.

  34. We asked about the likely reaction by organisations if such workplace parking charges were to be introduced. See the following table.
Workplace parking charges: directors' views on likely reaction by employers
(those who provided workplace parking)

OpinionProportion of Total
Per cent

Absorb all the extra cost42
Absorb some, pass some to users28
Pass all to users15
Consider converting spaces to other purposes 11
Encourage people not to drive there12
Consider relocating18

1,681 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Totals exceed 100 per cent as more than one opinion could be given.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  35. There is the strong likelihood that some drivers would try to avoid charges by parking in areas off-site but close to the workplace. This could well be in a residential area, and this would hardly likely lead to an enhanced image of the business or other organisation among local people.

  36. It is not only directors who are very concerned indeed about the likely effects of workplace parking charges. It has also been a worry for employees (for example, "Space wars", MSF works, issue 2, August/September 1998, page 30). One case involving complaints from trades unionists is at the University of Bath, which already has car parking fees, introduced a few years ago apparently to expand and maintain existing parking spaces. Yet the University actually built on some of the parking areas without replacing them. Apart from complaints from those staff who have to pay the charge for a reduced number of available spaces, the view has been expressed that the revenues are being put to whatever uses the University wants.

  37. Similarly, we have some doubts about the ability to ensure that local authorities were actually properly applying any revenues collected specifically to be spent on transport improvements. There must be some risk that such sums would go into general running costs of a council's activities. That would be so unless rules were drawn up to ringfence the moneys in the same way that councils have operated housing revenue accounts.

  38. Another point—about charging in general. Now, it is proposed to charge employers for parking spaces used by employees as a way of cutting down on traffic levels. There is an emphasis on making businesses pay. In terms of distance travelled, leisure journeys are the most popular, followed by work and shopping (Transport Statistics Great Britain 1997, DETR, Scottish Office Education and Industry Department and Welsh Office, TSO, September 1997). Business parking may represent from 30 to 60 per cent of the total in towns and cities, and we would agree with a Confederation of British Industry comment that the proposed taxes would be "a blunt instrument, targeting businesses rather than all road users" ("Business set to battle against charges on workplace parking", Charles Batchelor, FT, 23 July 1998, page 8). Increasing the tax burden on businesses would be very damaging to their success, particularly in the manufacturing sector, which is already experiencing a recession.

  39. Looking at our transport survey findings, where we asked IoD members whether their organisation would be reviewing its transport practices for cost reasons were the Government's proposed charges to be introduced: 41 per cent said yes, although 50 per cent said no. These findings certainly show that there would likely be considerable effort involved across business and other organisations.

  40. There is other evidence to suggest that changing car use is actually more about individuals' choices and preferences. According to the 1996 British Social Attitudes Survey, 40 per cent of adults thought that a thriving car industry was essential to the British economy, and 35 per cent that car driving was too convenient to forsake for the good of the environment (British Social Attitudes the 14th Report The End of Conservative Values?, edited by Roger Jowell, John Curtice, Alison Park, Lindsay Brook, Katarina Thomson and Caroline Bryson, Social and Community Planning Research, Ashgate, Aldershot, 1997). These similar proportions may or may not include the same persons, but the dichotomy of opinion indicates how difficult it may be to reconcile purely environmental concerns or desires to reduce traffic congestion with people's other priorities, including those directly affecting sectors of business. As has been pointed out, achievement of the increase in motor traffic is not entirely within the Government's sphere of influence ("A big change in the habits of the British public will be required"—editorial, "Driving cars off the roads", FT, 21 July 1998, page 19).

  41. We did in fact ask directors whether they would personally cut down on car use in favour of other forms of transport if the Government's proposed charges were to come in. Some 16 per cent of those who used a car indicated that they would cut down on use. Of those who so indicated, the respondents would increase use of other forms of transport as follows:
Other forms of transport to be used by directors if charges led to less car use

Proportion of total
OpinionPer cent


291 IoD members, excluding those who did not know and non-respondents. Total exceed 100 per cent because more than one opinion could be given.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  If such reduction in car use were to come about, it looks likely that trains and buses might be substitutes, in the main, along with more walking to work.

Paragraphs 4.128 to 4.130

  42. IoD members gave their opinion about company car schemes in our August-September survey. Some 71 per cent of organisations had such a scheme (excluding those who did not know and non-respondents). We found the following proportions of respondents agreeing with statements as to the merits of company car schemes, as shown below.
Company car schemes:
directors' opinions: those with such schemes

OpinionProportion of total
Per cent

Vital to all users40
Vital to some, a perk to others55
Essential in recruiting/retaining best employees 34

1,438 IoD members, excluding those who didn't know and non-respondents. Total exceeds 100 per cent because more than one opinion could be given.
Source: IoD Policy Unit, survey of August-September 1998.

  43. Estimates by market researchers Market Line are that there will be an increase in the number of company cars in Britain from 3 million now to 3.3 million by 2001, in line with a similar 10 per cent increase in Europe as a whole ("Company car here to stay", Martin Derrick, FT Auto, page 2, FT, 11 May 1998).

Paragraph 4.132

  44. The White Paper mentions that not all employers may be aware of the possible offsetting against tax of expenditure incurred in encouraging their employees to use "green" transport. There is mention of forthcoming guidance from the Inland Revenue, and the opportunity should be taken to publicise the position.


Paragraph 5.21

  45. As mentioned in paragraph 17, encouraging more people to walk may in itself lead to improved health. We note the existence of a number of company schemes to encourage reduction in the number of car journeys to work, for example in Boots ("Two wheels good, four wheels bad", Randeep Ramesh, The Independent, 6 June 1997). But, as a general point about green commuter plans, we would certainly not want to see them imposed, and would not expect all organisations to be able to devote resources to employ a "staff travel co-ordinator" to promote and implement such plans.

  46. We note that the Government intends to take a lead by introducing green transport plans in all its departments and agencies. From looking at least one such plan, intended to be imposed on staff in at least one National Health Service Trust, we can see the potential for a negative effect on morale if any such schemes were to be imposed without adequate consultation. We would urge caution in the Government's plans for its own employees on this front. A demoralised workforce could potentially be far more damaging to efficient functioning of an organisation than not having a "politically correct" transport policy.

Paragraph 5.52

  47. We agree with the comment that people, businesses and communities cannot be expected to make changes in their own use of transport if they do not understand what difference it makes.

  48. The key weaknesses around many of the proposals set out in the White Paper are centred around lack of meaningful transport alternatives as things are in reality for many people and organisations. For example, if great changes are being expected of people on the basis that transport improvements will eventually accrue, then some of the hopes may be somewhat pious. Thus the reality for many people now is that they have to rely on car use to get to and from work—in areas lacking usable public transport. The idea that any revenues collected by local authorities will actually be spent on transport may be a good one, but it could be quite difficult for most people to be able to follow the allocation of resources through a set of local council published accounts. There could also be the risk that the revenues might not be hypothecated but in some measure put towards other purposes.

  49. Perhaps some direct comments from IoD members who have written to us about the transport White Paper would help illustrate a few practical points. See the next page.

Geraint Day

Business Research Officer

23 September 1998

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