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European Community (Council Of Transport Ministers)

Volume 975: debated on Wednesday 5 December 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport how many meetings of the EEC Transport Ministers he has attended since he assumed office.

The first meeting of the EEC Council of Transport Ministers to be held since I have taken office will take place tomorrow.

Is the Minister aware of the enormous differences in axle weights in the EEC countries, from 32 tonnes in the United Kingdom to 50 tonnes in the Netherlands? Will he tell his European counterparts that the only EEC harmonisation that he will agree to will be based on the British standard of 32 tonnes?

I shall make clear to my European colleagues that we have set up the Armitage inquiry to look at the whole issue of lorries and the environment, and there is no question of any decision being made before that inquiry has reported and the House has had an opportunity to debate the issue.

Will my right hon. Friend tomorrow raise with his EEC counterparts the question of the Channel tunnel?

That is one of the issues that will come up, but I believe that there is a later question on the Order Paper about the Channel tunnel.

Will the Minister raise with his counterpart from the Federal Republic of Germany how he managed to persuade the West German Cabinet to give a subsidy to West German railways that is nine times that given to United Kingdom railways? When the right hon. Gentleman has that information, will he use it on his own colleagues?

We know that the West German Government are giving proportionately more to West German railways than we give to ours. One reason is that at present West Germany is far more prosperous than Britain.