8 FEBRUARY 2021
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Only seen intermittently these days when duty calls to host a government media briefing Transport Minister Grant Shapps appeared before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee last Wednesday.
He was given a fairly soft grilling on the whole spectrum of transport by the group and its chair Hugh Merriman, MP for Bexhill, who chose to conduct the interview from a House of Commons committee room. Although he is by his own admittance an electric car motorist Mr Shapps preferred the less pressure of his Hertfordshire home than a drive to Westminster and a one-to-one with committee members present.
Air travel discussion was limited to just 30min. The transport secretary rejected calls to completely close the UK’s borders, warning that the move could undermine the fight against the virus and would jeopardise the flow of medicine, vaccines and food.
“The idea that the UK could completely batten down its hatches and remain battened down for a year is mistaken. But also, the evidence that that is the only thing you need to do, or even the primary thing you need to do, is also pretty shaky.” he said.
Asked about the financial situation regarding Eurostar, Minister Shapps was philosophical. “It’s not our company to rescue – it’s majority owned by the French state [in other words SNCF].
“We’re very, very keen for Eurostar to survive, and we’ll wait to see the plan [from SNCF].”
When it comes to “Smart Motorways” the minister pointed out that he inherited the system. “Why these things were ever called smart motorways when they seem to be anything but smart, I think was a misnomer.” He ruled out the possibility of reinstating the hard shoulder “not practical and too expensive” but new radar safety equipment was on its way with installation brought forward to 2023.
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