HC Deb 07 June 1967 vol 747 cc1055-7
5. Mr. Winnick

asked the Minister of Transport what progress has been achieved in establishing reduced fares on public transport for elderly people in all parts of the country.

68. Mr. Molloy

asked the Minister of Transport if she will make a statement regarding the progress made in her dis- cussions about concessionary fares for retirement pensioners using London Transport.

80. Mr. David Steel

asked the Minister of Transport if she will now make a statement on the steps to be taken to encourage private bus operators to introduce concessionary fares for old-age pensioners.

Mr. Swingler

My right hon. Friend is studying this matter in the light of the views of local authorities, but she is not yet ready to make a statement.—[Vol. 742, c. 1502.]

Mr. Winnick

Does my hon. Friend realise that many retired people in the Greater London Area feel resentful on this matter because they know that retired people in other areas where the local authority runs the transport services have concessionary fares? Is there Treasury opposition to further progress? Shall we have a definite statement by the end of the year?

Mr. Swingler

I appreciate that there is public opinion in favour of extending the power to grant concessionary fares. We have sought the views of the local authority associations, but there is by no means complete agreement among them on the extension of powers which they would wish. As my hon. Friend suggests, an increase in public expenditure is involved, and the question must, therefore, be considered in relation to other priorities.

Mr. Galbraith

When discussing this matter with the local authorities, did the Minister try to ensure that any scheme produced related reduced fares to ability to pay and was not just overall to people merely because they happened to be old?

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman is not completely seized of the matter. We are concerned with the possibility of extending the legislation which this Government brought in in 1964 to grant, for social reasons, concessionary fares to certain categories of persons. The question of whether and how this should be done is what we are discussing with the local authority associations.

Mr. Blackburn

Is this problem likely to be met in the legislation which the Minister has promised to bring forward?

Mr. Swingler

As I said, when she entered into these consultations my right hon. Friend promised to make a statement. She is not yet in a position to do so, but she will make a statement on the subject of concessionary fares in the near future.

Mrs. Braddock

Will my hon. Friend consider the system which Liverpool has adopted, under which there is free transport for elderly people holding an aged person's pass, and, before the party opposite took control of Liverpool, arrangements were made by the Labour-controlled local authority to reduce, year by year, the age at which a free pass was given?

Mr. Swingler

I am very interested in what my hon. Friend says. These powers have always been permissive, and their use, therefore, is governed by decisions taken by the members of local authorities which control municipal transport.