HC Deb 08 May 1968 vol 764 cc394-5
2. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Transport, having regard to the 3½ per cent. maximum increase to be permitted for incomes and prices, what steps he is taking to stabilise railway and omnibus passenger fares during 1968–69.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)

Any major increases proposed in rail fares, or in underground or bus fares in London, are referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes. Other bus fares are controlled by the independent Traffic Commisioners who have a duty to take into account the criteria of the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am aware of all these things. Will the hon. Gentleman now apply himself to the Question? What is to be the influence on the prices and incomes policy of precipitate rises in fares for the millions of commuters in London and elsewhere? Will he resist such rises resolutely, as befits his office?

Mr. Swingler

There are no precipitate rises in fares in this respect. All these matters are being scrutinised by the National Board for Prices and Incomes. Moreover, in the case of London fares, they then have to go before the Transport Tribunal, where they are open to objection. No precipitate changes are being made. London fares have been stable since January, 1966.

Sir R. Cary

May I ask the Minister of State whether he is aware that a large number of services that are socially desirable but completely uneconomic can be operated only if fares are increased? Is he aware that it may not be possible to imprison that rise within 3½ per cent.?

Mr. Swingler

The hon. Gentleman may be right, in which case the criteria will have to be applied. In those instances which he is thinking about, they are applied by the Traffic Commissioners, and appeals are possible from them to my right hon. Friend. That is how these matters are judged.