Examination of Witness (Questions 357-359)|
Professor Andrew Evans
14 FEBRUARY 2006
Professor Evans: I will do my best, My Lord
Q357 Chairman: Professor Evans, we are delighted
to see you and we are most grateful to you for coming to give
us some help with our inquiry. I know you want to get away, so
if it comes to the point where you have really got to go, just
give us a signal and we will completely understand. We are going
to try and ask our questions in as short and succinct manner as
we can, and I have no doubt you will give us clear and short answers
if that is possible.
Q358 Chairman: Thank you very much.
I am told to say to all our witnesses, speak up and speak slowly,
if that is not a contradiction of what I said earlier, in order
that we can hear what you are going to tell us. If I may start,
willingness-to-pay values of safety have been used for some time
now in both road and rail safety project appraisal, and I gather
they are recommended by the Treasury. What we would really like
to know is whether you think in principle this method is appropriate,
and if this method is used should then the same values be applied
to all transport modes, or are there good reasons for using different
values in different contexts?
Professor Evans: I think that willingness-to-pay
is an appropriate method for valuing the prevention of casualties,
and the main reason for that is that it is consistent with the
principles under which other attributes are valued in economic
appraisal, so I am quite content with that. The only qualification
I would make is that I am not personally a direct researcher into
establishing these values; I rely on other people's results and
I rely on assessments by colleagues who I, as it were, respect
as to the reliability of the conclusions. In a sense, therefore,
it is slightly second-hand for me, but subject to what my colleagues
say I think it is an appropriate principle.
Q359 Chairman: Then the question
about using different values in different contexts.
Professor Evans: One general point is that I
am reluctant to give different values in different contexts, because
I am very conscious that, if you do adopt different values, whatever
safety resources you deploy you will not minimise the number of
deaths by having different values, and if you are not going to
minimise the number of deaths you need quite strong reasons not
to do so. My view is that I cannot see any general reasons for
valuing casualties differently on the different modes. There might
be some specific reasons, but generally I do not think there is
any reason for saying rail and road should have different values.
That is for casualties; there might be some differences in the
valuation of preventing accidents which involve other losses beside
casualties like disruption and damage et cetera; you may have
a different average package for the different modes, but I think
the casualties themselves would be the same. However, the one
qualification I would also make to that is that you might have
different values in different contexts, and the one that is most
persuasive to me, which has been effectively put on the table
lately by the Rail Safety and Standards Board, is the valuation
of trespasser casualties. It seems quite reasonable to argue that
they should not be valued at zero, but there should be a lower
valuation for preventing them than, as it were, law-abiding citizens.
Chairman: That is very helpful and very
clear. Lord Macdonald.