HC Deb 19 June 1968 vol 766 cc1094-5
18. Mr. Hunt

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he has taken in accordance with the Government's prices and incomes policy to ensure that the abolition of the no-standing rule for London's buses is part of the productivity agreement currently being negotiated between the London Transport Board and the Transport and General Workers' Union.

Mr. Swingler

The London Transport Board is keeping us informed of the progress of its negotiations. It would not be helpful to the parties if we were to comment at this stage on matters under discussion, and the possible content of any productivity agreement.

Mr. Hunt

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Londoners bitterly resent the prospect of further fare increases while the many restrictive practices within London Transport, such as the idiotic no-standing rule and the failure to extend one-man bus operations, are allowed to continue? Cannot the Government give a positive lead to London Transport on this matter?

Mr. Swingler

We have been giving a positive lead on this matter, which is why these discussions have been going on. It is only possible to make progress on the matter by careful negotiation between the management and the trade unions in London. I believe that we can get a successful productivity agreement, but it is best left to the parties to reach agreement.

Mr. Heffer

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people who travel on the buses do not consider this rule as particularly idiotic and that we do not want to reach the position in this country in which, like the people of Paris and Rome, we are herded like cattle on the buses?

Mr. Swingler

I shall make no comment on the relative idiocy or otherwise of any of these things. What we want and need is higher productivity and one-man operation. That is what the management and the trade unions are negotiating about, and we hope and trust that the negotiations will come to a successful conclusion.

Sir G. Nabarro

How does the hon. Gentleman reconcile his statement a few moments ago that he is giving a lead to London Transport with his earlier reply to me that he has no statutory authority to deal with the fares charged by London Transport? The two statements are in contradiction.

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman should try to abstain from misrepresenting what I say. I did not say that we had no statutory authority. I said that under the legislation brought in by his party the Transport Tribunal in London was set up as the final authority on questions of fares and that we are awaiting its decision. The hon. Gentleman must also bear in mind that for over two years the Government have kept down fares in London.

Mr. Spriggs

Will my hon. Friend also consider the safety aspect of this proposal as well as productivity?

Mr. Swingler

Of course. That is precisely why all these matters must be carefully negotiated between the management and the trade unions.

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