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Stephen Hammond: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that intervention. The paper that I read on this issue confirms what he says. The reality is that capacity seems not to be a word in this Government's lexicon. The capacity issues that the transport system needs to address are not being addressed.
The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington regaled us with several of his supposedly spiked press releases, but in doing so he merely proved to the House why they have remained unused by the Press Gallery.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) described the economic context in which we need to consider our country's infrastructure requirements and what we need to do to ensure a vibrant 21st-century economy. He rightly said that modal shift will not meet our needs and that we will need to achieve capacity increases in both rail and road. He also rightly
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saidthe Secretary of State was out of the Chamber at the timethat we need to continue to use, and to expand the use of, private-sector finance to ensure that our economy's capacity requirements are met. He raised several interesting points relating to safety, and he finished by urging that maximum commercial use be made of railway property. Every Member of this House will surely agree with that.
The Deputy Prime Minister said in the introduction to "Transport 2010" that the plan will deliver the scale of resources required to put integrated transport into practice. Everybody in the House agrees that more is being spent. The Secretary of State recited in his opening contribution what my hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell had already mentioned: a list of schemes that have been completed. What the Secretary of State failed to do, and which we asked him to do, was to explain why, if so much money is being spent, so many schemes have been stopped or scrapped, and why so much of "Transport 2010" is not going to be delivered. If Members care to do so, they can hear about the detail of one such scheme in today's forthcoming Adjournment debate. The Deputy Prime Minister also said that he will put in place an "integrated . . . transport system". It is certainly true that at the moment trains and cycles, trains and buses, and freight movement from ports by rail and road are not integrated. The short answer is that "Transport 2010" has not delivered an integrated transport policy.
As everyone has said today, moving freight by rail is a good idea. However, I wonder whether, when we recite that slogan, we consider all the economic, environmental and sustainable community issues that it raises. If he has not already done so, the Minister might care to acquaint himself with the Green N8 scheme, which I believe the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is pushing. It involves moving aggregates by rail freight, but the only trouble is that concrete output is moved by road through our communities and the crowded and congested roads of north London. So in reciting these slogans, we should also be clear about what they mean for local communities.
There is no integrated transport policy. We have heard today a number of promises, and we have heard about a number of broken promises. The short answer is that the trains are getting more crowded and are still running late, and everybody is paying more for them. Traffic is still jammed and it is taking longer and longer to reach its destination. More cars are registered and everybody is paying more. When the Secretary of State was first in post, he said that he
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman):
The Conservatives' thesis today seems to be that the Government have managed the economy so brilliantly well that we are all getting back to work and getting richer, and so we all want to travel more. I do not disagree with them for a second.
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The Opposition also believe that the Government are investing heavily in transport but claim that we are not seeing the benefits. Opposition Members should think about their personal experience for a moment. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), the Liberal Democrat spokesman, was constructive enough to admit that there have been significant improvementsincluding new rolling stock and increased reliabilityand that people are aware of them.
I have been a Minister for nearly three years. Not one week has gone by in that time when I have not used inter-city trains to fulfil some ministerial engagement. I have seen for myself that train services are better and more comfortable. An article in the press just this week talked about the improvements on the west coast main line and said that airlines flying to Manchester are starting to think that they are under threat.
I had to fulfil an engagement today in Newport in Wales. I was able to rely on the trains to get me there and back again, even though I knew that I had to be here for this debate. In 1997, no one would have considered taking the train to Newport without taking the week off work and being accompanied by a team of sherpas. The improvements are there for all to see. For example, slam-door trains have been replaced. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) is one of the shadow transport spokesmen, and he will know
Dr. Ladyman: No, although I will if there is time later. The hon. Gentleman will have experienced those slam-door trains. I used to work for a private company in east Kent. It used to tell people that it chose Kent for a base in the 1950s because of the train service available then. Unfortunately, exactly the same trains were being used by the mid-1990s as were deployed in the 1950s. All those trains are now gone: people can see the improvements and they are aware of the channel tunnel rail links that are starting to be completed
Dr. Ladyman: I am sorry, but I need to make progress. My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) talked about the improvements that she and her constituents have seen in west coast main line services.
If the Opposition's comments about rail were stunning and inaccurate, their remarks about the Government's approach to road schemes were breathtaking. The press release by the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) contained incorrect statements about roads that have, in fact, been completed.
The hon. Gentleman says that the Highways Agency website was inaccurate, but we checked that during the debate and found it to be
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entirely accurate. He needs to have a long talk with his researchers about which old documents they used for his speech.
I shall give a few examples of why I think that the Opposition's view of our road programme is breathtaking. Between 1990 and 1994, the then Conservative Government announced that a number of road schemes would be scrapped. They included the Greater Manchester western and northern relief road, the Langford turn in Bedfordshire, the Blackwall tunnel interim scheme on the A13, the A31 Stoney Cross junction improvements in Hampshire, the A59 Copster Green bypass in Lancashire, the M1-M62 link road between Wakefield and Kirklees, the western environmental route in the London boroughs of Hammersmith, Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, and the Exeter northern bypass. All those schemes were cancelled by the Conservatives.
The previous Conservative Government obviously got the taste for cancelling road schemes, so in 1994 they announced a review. They then cancelled the schemes on the M12 and M606, and the A1 to M1 to Scratchwood link. They also cancelled schemes on the M1, A5, A6, A6/A46I could go on. The list of schemes that the Conservative scrapped in 1994 is very long. There are 49 of them in all and I could use my entire time talking about them.
Like an addict who had had his first shot of some drug, the Conservatives realised it was rather fun to cancel road schemes, so back they came in 1995 to cancel schemes on the M1, the M5, the M23, the M25 and more. I could go on even longer on this list because there were 77 of them. If that were not bad enough, they came back again in 1996 to scrap schemes on the M1, the M3, the M4, the M5the list goes on and on. They scrapped no fewer than 107 road schemes that year alone. Yet they have the brass neck to tell us we are not committed to road building where it is necessary and important.
Of the 40 schemes that we identified for the targeted package of improvements, 38 are on target to be delivered by 2010. Two remain challenging. The hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) himself identified the Stonehenge programme, and I merely ask him whether he would have given the go-ahead to a £500 million tunnel under Stonehenge without looking again at the options. We called a review when we realised it would have been cheaper to move the stones and the mountain they were sitting on.
The Liberal Democrats were of course able to critique both other parties' transport policies without giving any constructive suggestions of their own. Three leadership candidates are going round the country at the moment with three very different transport proposals. Those of the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) seem to consist of saying that the only transport modality that should be available to any of us is walking around in open-toed sandals. The only transport contribution so far from the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) has been his saying that he will drive a little less often in his classic Jag. The contribution of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne) has been to say that no matter how we decide motorists should pay to use the roads in future, they should pay in euros.
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All that hardly adds up to a coherent package. When the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington stands there giving us a list of transport proposals that would cost billions and billions of pounds, yet says that he agrees with the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife about the Liberal Democrats' public spending commitments, I have to remind him exactly what it was his right hon. and learned Friend said. He said:
The hon. Member for Rochdale (Paul Rowen) talked about Metrolink, telling us how we should move forward on that. I have to tell him that two of his neighbour Liberal Democrats have sat in my office in the past few weeks telling me we should go ahead with a £1 billion road scheme in their constituencies. Where does all the money come from? Where would the Liberal Democrats propose to find the money?
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