Letter: Prescott's task

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Sir: The environment may yet have found a ministerial champion. John Prescott, it seems, has been playing David to Gordon Brown's Goliath and has won a not insignificant battle. New levies on anti-social driving are to be used to fund improvements to public transport (report, 29 January).

That is a huge leap for the Labour Party to make, and more than a short step in the right direction for the environment. Liberal Democrats are rejoicing that the Labour Party has finally started to take the environment agenda on board.

We have had a "green" environment minister before. In the last parliament, John Gummer was, as he still is, a staunch defender of the environment. Sadly he was given little support from his colleagues, most notably at the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry. And without these key ministries on board, little will happen.

Will John Prescott fall the same way? For the moment he appears to have the upper hand. But these ideas need to be more than floated for a White Paper. They need to make it not only into that paper, but also into any concrete policy proposals. And these hypothecated taxes need to work in practice. The Deputy Prime Minister still has a long way to go. If he is willing to go all the way, he will find willing support from the Liberal Democrat benches.

MATTHEW TAYLOR MP

Liberal Democrat Senior Transport Spokesman

House of Commons

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