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Government Policy

Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the results of his Department, after 13 months of the present Government, in achieving the policy programme which he set it on assuming office.

Among the most important achievements of my Department have been the provisions in the Transport Bill to reform the bus licensing system. This will enable new bus and coach services to develop and takes the remaining restrictions off car sharing. The Transport Bill also converts the National Freight Corporation into a company with a view to the sale of shares. In my roads White Paper published on 5 June I set out my policy for the development of the trunk road system and for the phasing out of the road construction unit sub-unit organisation. On the manpower front the number of departmental staff has been reduced, and plans announced for a further reduction of 20 per cent. over the next three years. Changes in the arrangements for VED, particularly in the transfer of more work to the Post Office, will contribute over 1,000 jobs to this. Progress has also been made in developing proposals for reducing the public sector interest in the British Transport Docks Board and British Rail subsidiary businesses, with the disposal on long leases of the Government's interest in the motorway service areas and the transferring of the HGV-PSV testing scheme to the private sector.A joint study between my Department and the Home Office is looking at ways of improving traffic law and ways of lightening the burden on police and the courts. My Department has also been holding consultations on better ways to tackle drunken driving and reducing motor cycle accidents. I have also announced the setting up of an inquiry chaired by Sir Arthur Armitage into the problems of the heavy lorry and it was announced that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will be looking into the efficiency of British Rail's commuter services in London and the South-East.