New Transport Secretary Philip Hammond

New incumbent needs to stay longer than 13 predecessors

13 May 2010

The new transport secretary, Philip Hammond, needs to stay longer in his post than his 13 predecessors, who only averaged 20 months, according to the AA.

The AA has suggested a 'fixed term' transport secretary to go with the new 'fixed term' parliament.

Philip Hammond

Runnymede and Weybridge MP Philip Hammond has been named Transport Secretary in the new cabinet. Mr Hammond, who was elected in 1997, was initially a member of the Conservative shadow health team before going on to serve as trade and industry spokesman.

A former director of companies supplying medical equipment, he went to shadow the now-defunct Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2002 before being made shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2007.

Comment

Edmund King, AA President said; "We have had 13 transport secretaries in 22 years so on average they have served only about 20 months each. The real problem is that it can take a new Transport Secretary approximately 12 months to get up to speed with their brief.

"Transport is essential for the country and our economy yet in the past it has been a merry-go-round for ministers to hop on and off. We wish Philip Hammond well and hope he stays long enough to sort out our transport problems. Perhaps we need a fixed term Transport Secretary as well as a fixed term parliament."

Drink and drugs

The new Secretary of State is also faced by two, interconnected, road safety issues.

The North review on drink and drug driving law is ready to report while the target for road injury reduction is also awaiting the new Minister's consideration.

While the Conservative manifesto was looking for better ways to tackle drug driving, various statements from them seemed to have ruled out cutting the drink drive limit.

Both drink and drug driving have been considered by the North review and will also be key parts of the new road safety strategy, to include new injury reduction targets.

This would be the third road safety target and strategy - the previous two have been key to the ongoing reduction in death and injury on Britain's roads.

The AA will be feeding in evidence on these issues to the new government.

Expensive high speed rail

King continued: "We are concerned that road transport did not feature in the election campaign and yet is used by the vast majority of the population every day of the week. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats seem keen on expensive high speed rail yet roads have the majority of problems and majority of transport users. The AA would not support road funding being diverted to this project.

"We are pleased that as part of a strategy designed to create a low carbon and eco-friendly economy there will be a mandate for a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. We are unsure though how the new government will address the problems of traffic congestion, road infrastructure and maintenance."

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