Fleet News

Prescott hits back at transport policy jibes

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott has turned on MPs for criticising his transport policies. He claimed they had failed to recognise the 'substantial progress my department has made towards delivering real improvements to the quality of life in this country'.

It is the second time leading Government ministers have had to go on the defensive against accusations made by the House of Commons Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee in as many weeks. Environment minister Michael Meacher hit back at criticism by the committee in its annual report that not enough was being done to introduce 'green' policies within Whitehall or meet targets.

In his response Prescott said: 'I was sorry that the committee's report made sweeping criticisms of the department, but failed to back them up with hard facts.' The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' achievements that the committee had ignored, Prescott said, included providing 14% more passenger rail journeys, £170 million extra investment in buses and other rural transport, £624 million to local highway authorities for capital spending and more than £400 million a year extra on road maintenance and a planned increase in the total maintenance budget to almost £3 billion by 2001/02.

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