On Thursday we had Department of Transport questions in the Chamber, and, as a supplementary to a question about “What discussions he has had with representatives of environmental groups on transport issues since his appointment” I asked Norman Baker the following:
Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab):
Many environmental groups were quite concerned when the Secretary of State, on first taking office, declared that he was going to end the war on motorists. That perhaps did not show quite the right set of priorities in putting environmental issues at the top of the agenda. May I urge the Minister to work with groups such as Sustrans on alternatives to motoring and on ensuring that there are green alternatives where motoring is the only option?
Norman Baker: The Secretary of State was concerned about issues such as private sector wheel clamping, which had led to unfair treatment of motorists. That view is shared across the coalition. He is also concerned to ensure that we decarbonise road transport and achieve carbon gains from the roll-out of electric vehicles, for example. There is no difference at all between our positions on that. We have a coherent transport policy that will deliver jobs and carbon reduction.
At the time I thought he had rather a rabbit caught in headlights look about him as he rose to answer me. Wouldn’t have had anything to do with Sunday’s announcement on speed cameras would it? And could the Government not have made this announcement in advance of Transport questions so we could actually ask them about it? I simply don’t believe anything happened between Thursday and Sunday (or rather, Saturday’s press briefings) which made this announcement timely.