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Cycling and Walking

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 4 November 2021

It is slightly ironic, is it not, that the question is about cycling and walking, and how we can decarbonise transport. While I am sure that those people outside have decent intentions, the way in which they are going about their business is completely unacceptable.

We need to continue our business here, so I can happily update the House with the information that my Department is investing an unprecedented £2 billion in active travel over the course of this Parliament, which is the biggest ever boost for walking and cycling.

My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Darren Henry) would have asked a supplementary question, and I know that he wanted to talk about areas in his constituency, because that is all he ever does. [Laughter.] He wanted to talk about Mini-Hollands and how they can change people’s behaviour when it comes to cycling, and to mention the town of Stapleford. The Department’s publication “Gear Change”, which could be described as a manifesto for cycling, refers to Mini-Hollands. Expressions of interest have been received from more than 30 local authorities wishing to build them—including Nottinghamshire County Council—so they are clearly remarkably popular. We are working on a list in order to progress to the next stage, and will receive a feasibility study in the next financial year.

Scotland’s active travel budget will soon amount to 10% of the transport budget, which means that at least £320 million a year—nearly £60 per person in Scotland—will be spent on walking and wheeling. The Department for Transport plans to spend less than £7 per head. When my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) put that to the Secretary of State, he was disbelieving. Now that he has seen the proof, why is the Department short-changing active travel in England?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is very pleased about the amount of money that the Scottish Government are receiving for cycling and walking in a devolved settlement via the Barnett formula, but the figures that he has given are not correct. Spending on cycling and walking in England has doubled from a paltry £3.50 per head in 2010 to about £10 per head now, and obviously, given the massive increase in spending on cycling and walking—the largest that we have ever had in this Parliament, as a result of the Prime Minister’s “Gear Change” plans—that will continue to increase.

Does the Minister, who is also the Rail Minister, agree that a key element of any cycling and walking plan should be better parking provision for cycles at railway stations?

I thank my right hon. Friend—a former Transport Minister—for his question. That is absolutely the case. One of the best gala dinners I have ever attended was the “cycle to rail” gala dinner, where awards were given for the best schemes of that kind. We are investing a huge amount of money in new, secure cycle parking around the country, and I went to see some of it not so long ago in the great city of Hull.