Too many cooks at the DfT

* Committee criticises ministerial turnover * Doubts over claims on emissions, too * Overall progress is good, though...

04 March 2010

Too many cooks and cloudy claims on emissions thats the verdict passed on the performance of the Department for Transport by the Transport Select Committee.

Although the cross-party committee of MPs said the DfT has made notable headway, it thinks that too many ministerial changes, including five Secretaries of State in five years, makes it difficult for a consistent approach to be adopted.

Chairman of the committee, Louise Ellman MP, said: Any company that changed its chief executive as frequently as it happens with the DfT would be viewed with great suspicion by its shareholders.

Ellman also said it is important that the DfT is more realistic and clear about trends and achievements: It reports strong progress on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport when, in fact, they have increased since 2000 and are unlikely to reduce before 2020.

A study from the DfT published in 2009 said emissions from transport have increased by 12% since 1990, and now make up 21% of the UKs total output.

Later, in the same study, the DfT says emissions will be 14% lower by 2020 compared to 2008. The select committee says the DfT should have made it clear that emissions will not be lower in absolute terms, but only compared with where they would be without the steps that had been taken.

Generally, though, the DfT has a good story to tell, with fewer deaths on the road and more people travelling by rail, bus and bicycle. As ever, more needs to be done. The cost of using public transport has increased and our report points to the need for better integration of local transport services. We also call for long-term solutions to traffic congestion to support economic growth, concluded Ellman.