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Mr. Crabb: I apologise. Several people have expressed concern about the proposal to use taxpayers' money to support a daily air service between Anglesey and Cardiff. I shall not go into detail about that because it has been adequately covered. I was reassured by the recognition of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) that we need to move to a position not of continuous subsidy of an air service but of more strategic use of the money to invest in developing infrastructure and airport facilities. I would support that.
I am slightly worried that some of the environmental questions that have been legitimately raised by organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Cymru and Friends of the Earth have been glossed over. No one has mentioned the principle of the polluter pays. It would be interesting to see how that fits into the context of subsidising air services. Ultimately, the air service will be small scale for high-value individuals, companies and public servants.
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I do not object to the notion of sensible transport planning at Assembly level. However, I am somewhat sceptical of the value of grand transport strategies on paper when there is no real investment stacked behind it. Hon. Members may remember the Prime Minister's declaring in his first annual report in 1998 that the integrated transport strategy for the UK was "delivered". Delivering words on paper is all well and good but what matters for transport is funding, tough and correct choices of competing infrastructure projects and the ability to manage them ruthlessly to completion.
Hywel Williams (Caernarfon) (PC): I was glad to take part in the long, drawn-out and detailed consideration of the Bill, and I am equally glad to take part in the conclusion of its passage through this House.
I have always been struck by a paradox about the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) and his detailed consideration of border issues. I am a Welsh nationalist and a Welsh speaker from what could perhaps be termed the wild west of Wales, and he is an English Conservative and Unionist, yet he seems much more concerned about the border than me. Perhaps he will explain that to me later over some refreshment.
David T.C. Davies: In the Conservative and Unionist party, we believe that we are all part of one big happy family in one united country. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) is so concerned about what happens in Wales.
Hywel Williams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. Earlier, the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) prayed in aid his experiences on the train to London today. Such experiences have unfortunately sometimes made me into a driver rather than a reluctant passenger. One of my regrets, which was discussed with the Minister some time ago, is the specific exclusion from the Bill of mainline services from Wales to England. As I said then, people on both south Wales and north Wales routes use mainline services in Wales as local services. It is regrettable that those mainline services were not included.
Historically, Wales has suffered great difficulties because of the lack of an integrated transport system and policy. The best transport links in Wales have always been built through Wales from east to west rather than directly serving the specific needs of the country. Obviously the A55 and the M4 are great engines of economic prosperity, but we now need to look beyond the narrow corridors around those two roads, and to plan and develop a variety of transport systems to serve the whole of Wales. I must note my disappointment at the spatial plan that has been produced for Wales, which also seems to restate a preference for those two corridors in the north and the south, apparently ignoring much of the middle of Wales.
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We need a system that will serve the transport needs of all the people of Wales in terms of the economy, social use, tourismthe latter has not been mentioned a great deal, but it is very important in my constituencyand agricultural requirements. The Bill goes a long way towards meeting those long-term aims, and it is very welcome. I hope that, when it is enacted, it will allow the National Assembly to co-ordinate and ensure consistency between all forms of public transport and, importantly, to make key improvements to the road systema point that I made in our earlier discussionsparticularly in deep rural areas and on the north-south road route.
We also hope that the legislation will enable the continuation of improvements in freight rail use. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) referred to correspondence that he had had with the Tad Deiniol from Blaenau Ffestiniog. I have also had that correspondence. We look forward to improvements on the line between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llandudno so that freight can be carried, as that would lead to great economic improvements in that constituency and elsewhere. I am glad that the Bill recognises the importance of cycling and making proper provision for pedestrians. The Government very graciously acted on suggestions on those issues when they were pointed out to them, which will result in a great improvement.
Plaid Cymru welcomes the establishment of joint transport authorities, if and when there is a desire for them locally, and if the voluntary arrangements are not satisfactory. We are glad that the Government have agreed with the Welsh Affairs Committeeof which I continue to be a memberthat the majority of members of the joint transport authorities should be from local authorities. That was a well-made point, and I am glad that the Government have responded to it. However, as a past and present member of the Welsh Affairs Committee, I have to say that it was disappointing to me personally that the Government refused to accept the Committee's recommendation that the transport commissioner's office be located in Wales. Perhaps we can take heart from the Government's assurance that that matter will be kept under review, and that the location of the office might be changed if there are further concerns about the accessibility of the commissioner in Wales.
David T.C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con):
I am grateful for this opportunity to add a brief comment to everything that has already been said. Before I do so, however, I should like to point out to the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) that Conservative Members have always recognised the importance of an integrated transport system and have always realised that, without such a system, there will be no economic growth. That is why successive Secretaries of State for Wales under the previous Conservative Government did so much to link the valleys of south Wales to the M4, and the areas of north Wales to the A55. Those Secretaries of State for Wales embarked on a huge road-building programme that brought inward investment,
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jobs and prosperity to corners of the world that had long been forgotten by the socialist local authorities that controlled them
It is because we recognise the importance of an integrated transport system that, when we started to consider the Bill, we sought to deal with it in a constructive fashion. We certainly support its overall objectives. However, there is a missed opportunity in clauses 3 and 4, because very little has been said about safety. I appreciate that the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire briefly touched on the issue when he talked about the importance of international standards in aviation. The hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) is also well aware that we must ensure that we have internationally recognised standards and that pilots are properly qualified. I feel very strongly about that, but I am not sure that we have adequately tackled the issue of road safety.
Wales has a problem, in that many people who travel long distances have to do so using trunk roads rather than motorways. Many of those trunk roads go straight through towns and villages. Sometimes speed limits are in place, but there is not nearly enough enthusiasm for ensuring that they are enforced. It could almost be suggested that some people who work in the police force would rather concentrate on catching large numbers of people who have just broken the speed limit, in order to get more money, and that they are less interested in putting speed cameras up on less well-used trunk roads where the impact of speeding could be far more dangerous.
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