13 March 1998
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn MP (Lab. Islington, North)
We face serious environmental problems in urban as well as rural areas. It is shocking that there are so many ventilators for children who suffer from asthma, in primary schools in London and other cities. Most of that asthma is caused by traffic pollution. Children's lives consist only of home, television, car, school, car, home, television. There is often nowhere for them to play outside, and it is unsafe for them to walk on the streets. We are bringing up a generation that knows nothing of the joy of running about, playing in the street, walking or cycling. Such social aspects are behind the Bill.
We are faced with environmental problems the world over. If we carry on increasing the use of the internal combustion engine and do not integrate aspects of life such as jobs and housing, the destruction of the environment, the possible pollution of the north Atlantic from oil drilling and all other environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from vehicles will worsen.
We cannot solve the problems of the whole world, but we can certainly do our bit in this country. We have signed the target set in Kyoto--I wish that it was 20 per cent. and not 8 per cent., but at least we signed up to something. Road traffic planning and integration of public transport is an important part of such a commitment. We can make a cleaner and better environment. It is dreadful to look over every city and see a pollution cloud, which is caused largely not by industry but by cars driven by one person going in and out of the city day in, day out. City centres are being destroyed as more and more car parks are built.
The Greater London council showed during its brief tenure that it is possible to make public transport cheap, efficient and popular. The GLC was abolished by the Tories, but when we again have an elected authority for London, I look forward to the integration of planning and transport, and rational thinking--away from the madness of the free market.
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