HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 cc1442-65


Mr. Michael Heseltine (Tavistock)

I beg to move Amendment No. 46, in page 14, line 7, leave out from ' section' to end of line 14 and insert: ' but the Authority and the Executive shall ensure that decisions taken with a view to the establishment of such a system are compatible with—

  1. (i) the town planning and traffic and traffic and parking policies of the councils of constituent areas; and
  2. (ii) the encouragement of safety;
    • and that the decisions will be taken within the framework of economic criteria which will enable full comparison to be made between the choices available'.
With this Amendment we reach the nub of the P.T.A. principle, because embodied in the words of the Amendment are included all the issues which have been discussed, and which have to be considered when one is trying to agree about the main purposes of passenger transport authorities. Until last night I had always been mystified by the Minister of State's view of passenger transport authorities, and the work that they were to do in the conurbations. It was only when I heard him explain what he thought they were that I began to understand why he was passionately in favour of them. He was talking of the very wide powers they had for planning, highway, traffic management and over the operation and co-ordination of bus services.

My difficulty was that the powers he was then ascribing to the P.T.A.S are not powers existing in the Bill. All through Committee stage we have been arguing that the Bill would have been a great deal better if these powers had existed. I am worried about the sort of relationship which will exist between the local authorities in whose hands lie the planning powers for virtually all the ancillary areas associated with transport and the passenger transport executive who will be responsible for running the buses.

Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)

Can the hon. Gentleman tell me how the purpose of the executive, as outlined by the Minister of State last night, will be achieved by providing places for the consumption of food and drink, car parks and equipment to repair motor vehicles?

Mr. Heseltine

The hon. Member is quite right in drawing attention to this, because these functions are totally irrelevant. This is simply a doctrinal flourish, introduced by the previous Minister for political purposes.

I am also concerned that the powers which the Minister of State ascribed last night to the passenger transport authorities are not in this legislation. I want to read the words which I seek to delete from the Bill. These are the words supposed to define the relationship between the new authority and the existing local authorities who are the planning authorities. The relevant words are that the passenger transport authorities shall have due regard … to the contribution to the effective implementation by the councils of constituent areas of town planning and parking policies which can be made by public transport services which through their efficiency and convenience attract persons to use those services rather than other means of transport … Those words when analysed are nothing more than a series of platitudes strung together for the sake of giving some semblance of respectability to the objectives of the P.T.A.s. Under a detailed analysis they do not contain a remit to the P.T.A.s which makes any sense at all. The authorities are expected to have due regard only to the plans of the local authorities. On this basis one is not placed in a position where one has to subject oneself to local authority plans. It is possible that there would be situations where local authority plans in all the major land use problems would not be followed by the passenger transport authorities. This makes a nonsense of the planning of our cities for transport purposes.

We turn to the fundamental problem, that we must start with the problem of planning land use. We must deal with the highway and traffic management problems and the problems of the cars before we can decide what to do in the cities. To tackle the problem from the other way, to tinker around with the ownership of buses, is to completely misunderstand the problem. The Minister gave a false impression of our position last night, which is very vital. We have never said that we were against the concept of passenger transport authorities.

I have said clearly, that such authorities, as consultative organisations, co-ordinative bodies, are a vital necessity in the conurbations. We have objected to these proposals because they were not based upon co-ordinating and consultative organisations. We want to remedy these vague words, which do not make any practical sense in terms of a remit to the people who have to carry this out, and in their place we want to substitute words which are clearer in their intentions and in the way in which they will be interpreted.

We want to define the relationship between the authority and its executives and the local authority much more clearly. Our Amendment says: … the Authority and the Executive shall ensure that decisions taken with a view to the establishment of such a system"— a passenger transport system are compatible with— (i) the town planning and traffic and traffic parking policies of the councils of constituent areas— this is the first point. Secondly, that they are compatible with (ii) the encouragement of safety", which is not a point of difference between us. Our third point is that the decisions will be taken within the framework of economic criteria which will enable full comparison to be made between the choices available. I was surprised that it was necessary for me to draft this Amendment, because the Minister of State gave me a specific assurance in Committee that he would look at the problem. He said: I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Tavistock that we need much more cost benefit analysis and undoubtedly one of the major tasks of the P.T.As. will be to improve and refine the analysis on which to base decisions about where money should be invested, comparing the return on investment in a road network with a comparable investment in facilities for public transport, providing new types of car parking facilities, interchange facilities and so on. The hon. Gentleman also said a little later: … we are prepared to reconsider the whole of this wording in respect of the terms of reference of the P.T.As. … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 1st February, 1968; c. 515.] I was disappointed that he did not think that the Clause needed any redrafting.

When we consider the third point, the question of financial discipline, we come to the greatest area of anxiety about the sort of things that could go on if the strictest terms are not imposed on the P.T.As. This is an area in which vast sums of money will be invested, probably at an increasing rate, particularly as we move into the next decade. It is very easy for investment decisions of the kind that will be made in the conurbations as 1:0 whether they have rigid transit systems, encourage buses by grants, build car parks or roads, to be made on purely subjective grounds by local people who feel that it would be nice to have a ring road, or who think, "Because Manchester has a rapid transit system, we should have one in Liverpool". These considerations can enter into the attitude of any legislature, however sophisticated it may be.

We want to make it absolutely clear to the P.T.A.s that there should be only the strictest criteria as guidelines. We wish to make quite sure that before any major investment takes place in the conurbations there will be the most detailed cost-benefit analysis and that decisions will be reached on the basis that the return from the money invested is the maximum that could be obtained in that area having regard to all the factors involved, whether it is invested in roads, car parking or other things.

This is a vital concept. As Buchanan warned us, as the century draws to a close we shall have to face up to the most massive investment in our cities, on a scale not dreamed of by many people hitherto. There will be the most appalling consequences if we do not get the criteria right before this investment starts. As the investment programme in roads switches, as I believe it will, from the major motorway grid up and down the country to rebuilding city road networks it is vital to understand the criteria on which the decisions should be made.

Although the Minister conceded in Committee that he supports our general ideas, it would be a great deal better if they could be incorporated in the Bill, and then everybody would be quite clear what was intended by, apparently, both sides of the Committee when we discussed the matter. There is no issue between us on political grounds on this matter. The Amendment simply deals with what both sides of the House understands to be the transportation problems involved.

I therefore hope that even at this late stage the Minister will accept our Amendment as a genuine attempt to try to reconcile the planning responsibilities of the divergent bodies and to introduce an atmosphere of economic necessity into the decisions that must be made. That would not prejudice his ideas for the Bill, but would give a clearer remit to those people who will have to have to carry out the Government's plans.

10.15 a.m.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

The hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) has squeezed every morsel that he could out of his speech by way of explanation. No one would disagree with his objectives, although he and his colleagues have not shown any great enthusiasm for setting up the passenger transport authorities. He said that no hon. Member opposite is against them, but anyone reading the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings would have great difficulties in seeing that.

By his Amendment the hon. Member is trying to establish that there will be better planning and a better outlook on the part of those responsible for the various local authority functions within the areas of the P.T.A.s. Local authorities are for the first time to be welded into a large area for transport purposes, transport services are to be dovetailed to meet the needs of the people in the area, where previously they have been dealt with—or attempts have been made to deal with them—in a much more piecemeal fashion. We shall have a larger area with greater rating ability and for the first time a passenger transport authority charged with the sole function of operating transport in a way that will suit the needs of the area and not just one local authority.

The hon. Gentleman says in paragraph (i) of the Amendment that he wants decisions to be compatible with the town planning and traffic and traffic and parking policies of the councils of constituent areas. But the P.T.A.s are to be composed in the main of councillors drawn from each of the constituent authorities. Only a small minority—one-seventh—will be nominated by the Minister of Transport. We shall have for the first time a body directly charged with the betterment— perfection, if one likes—of the system of dealing with the transport needs of a much wider area than anything we have had before, on which will be representatives of each of the local authorities within the area.

This representation will be reflected in the executive, the professional people carrying out the P.T.A.'s directives. It is right to assume that the constituent authorities will mould their transport policy according to the needs, wishes and directions of the P.T.A. Therefore, instead of having piecemeal plans to deal with transport needs as we have had in the past we shall have a wider outlook.

The hon. Member brings in the encouragement of safety in paragraph (ii) of the Amendment. Every right hon. and hon. Member through the years, especially in the past decade, has taken an increasing interest in safety matters of all kinds, but particularly safety on the roads, because of the mounting toll of deaths and injuries on them. I served on a local authority, first in a small burgh and then on the county council. We had our road safety provisions and encouragement of safety on a county basis. This was much better than having it on a piecemeal local authority basis, and it has worked very well. There are questions about paid officers and amalgamation of small burghs, but here for the first time we have a high-powered passenger transport authority and among its first duties and responsibilities will be the encouragement of safety provisions.

The fears which the hon. Member has expressed are ill-founded. Although we may not have the protection which all of us would like to see in transport matters, we are moving forward—

Mr. Michael Heseltine

I am sure that the hon. Member realises that in the Amendment precisely the same words are included with reference to safety as those in the original Government draft.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Member must not pull me away from my theme. I am not talking about the actual words. Of course they are the same, but the hon. Member appears to imagine that he will get a better functioning of safety provisions by means of the Amendment. My claim is that safety provisions will be much better because transport as such will have a much larger sweep of power than ever before.

That is because it will be on a wide-ranging basis with a top-powered executive backed by the directions of the passenger transport authorities, composed in the main of local authority delegates, who are bound to make an impact. They will model the provisions to suit the traffic in the area and to meet the needs. They will draft the plans and mobilise the transport. They will do everything possible to meet the end product, the needs of the people residing in the area or coming into or out of the area.

I am a little disturbed about the last words in the Amendment. The hon. Member spent some time explaining that the decision would be taken within the framework of economic criteria which would enable full comparison to be made between the choices available. I am not sure whether he was dealing with the actual provision of services, or whether there will be economic criteria for each service provided by a passenger transport authority.

Mr. Michael Heseltine indicated assent.

Mr. Manuel

I thought that was so, but the hon. Member's hon. Friends do not believe these criteria to be socially necessary for railway services.

The Minister has been inundated with protests when it has been proposed that certain lines should be closed and during the whole period in which the Beeching policy applied. Whenever a railway was to be closed there were all sorts of arguments. The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) and I have appeared before a transport users' consultative committee to argue for the retention of lines which are socially necessary but which are losing large sums of money.

I am against the passenger transport authority being put into a straitjacket by any decision incorporated in the Bill whereby the authority would not be able to make certain that a service which was losing money would be paid for by a more lucrative service if the one which was losing was socially necessary. The hon. Member for Tavistock said that he wanted each service to pay.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

I did not say that I wanted each service to pay. I said that I wanted each service to be costed. We could then make a decision on an economic basis of which service can stay, although many which stayed would stay on social grounds.

Mr. Manuel

I am glad that the hon. Member has said that and I am sorry if I misunderstood him. We are completely agreed that a service should be costed in the same way as the railway workshops are.

As one who has taken an interest in transport matters for years, I am certain that this is a great step forward. I do not say that it is perfection; no one would say that. None of us is satisfied with transport, even though we have been struggling for many years to get our ideas incorporated in legislation and to embody certain criteria in which we believe, but this is a great step forward.

I hope that the House will seriously consider not damping the enthusiasm of those who consider that this is the right way forward and that hon. Members will help rather than obstruct them by cramping their efforts by too many restrictions.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Many of us have to go to a Committee which is meeting upstairs. Can you tell me whether special arrangements have been made for ensuring that those who stay here may be told when there is a Division in a Committee upstairs, so that we can carry out our duties in both places?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member was not present when I ruled on the same point earlier. The Chair cannot undertake communications between the Committee and the House. Hon. Members must keep in touch with their hon. Friends.

Mr. Bessell

I assure the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) that I would not support this Amendment if I believed that it would result in all passenger transport services being judged solely upon their economic viability. As I read the Amendment, it in no way conflicts with the provisions of Clause 36, which make allowance for the continuation of passenger transport services where they are socially necessary. The hon. Member and I agree that that is one of the most important aspects of the Bill.

This Amendment is of considerable importance. The hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) was right when he said that here we come to the nub of all the discussions we have had in the House and in Standing Committee F on the concept and purpose of the passenger transport areas, the authorities and the executives. He was also right when he said that this is not a part issue. As worded, the Amendment does nothing but strengthen the ideas and concept of the passenger transport authority as explained by the Minister of State last night.

The Minister of State told us that the purpose, the one objective which he cherishes, is that the passenger transport authorities shall succeed in properly co-ordinating passenger transport services, relieving congestion, and providing additional safety for users of private and public transport. That is an objective with which all of us are in complete agreement.

The Amendment does not in any way conflict with that idea, or, indeed, that ideal. Instead, it strengthens it. I am anxious that the passenger transport authorities shall work in such a way that they will not only assist local authorities, but will not conflict with the plans and work already carried out by many local authorities to the benefit of local communities and which are vital to the welfare of the areas concerned.

10.30 a.m.

The Amendment states that the decisions which are to be taken by the authorities must be compatible with the town planning and traffic policies of the councils of the constituent areas. Plymouth, for example, is an area which could be dangerous in such an authority if it dominated the surrounding area, represented in constituency terms by the hon. Member for Tavistock, the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) and myself.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Bessell

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman agrees.

A great amount of work has been carried out in Plymouth during the last 25 years in town planning and the provision of car parking and of passenger transport services. Plymouth has done a first-class job. I assume that it would be the centre of a passenger transport area for the purpose of my argument. If decisions taken so far by the Plymouth Corporation were taken by a P.T.A. comprising representatives also of local councils in surrounding areas, many of the plans which Plymouth Corporation has on the drawing board, and which are entirely commendable, might suffer serious deterioration. That is why I believe it right to spell out that it is essential for the authorities to take account of policies of constituent areas.

There is no conflict between the two sides of the House on the question of safety. The provision in the Clause is right and I am glad that the Amendment is exactly the same in that respect.

We cannot ignore the social criterion of this policy. It is right, in considering a form of public transport, to consider the economic as well as the social advantages. Perhaps we have always tended to emphasise the social advantages—and on this aspect hon. Members opposite and I have been mainly of one mind. But economic advantages must be considered also because in many areas, particularly development areas, the economy depends on the forms of transport available.

I am having an argument at the moment with British Railways about the rundown of a passenger service at a main line station in my constituency because I believe that it will damage the potential development of the area. I believe that people who might otherwise go to the area with light industry may not do so because of the rundown of the rail service. It is right, therefore, that the economic consequences of planning transport areas should be taken into account when the Minister is designating the areas.

This matter goes to the nub of the question of passenger transport authorities. If we are to have them, we are anxious that they should work. Having considered the Amendment carefully, and having listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, which did not conflict with the principles set out by the hon. Member for Tavistock, I believe that the Minister of State can only accept it. It does nothing to harm or weaken the Government's intentions. On the contrary, it would strengthen and spell out with greater clarity what is needed if the passenger transport authorities are to be a success. It would do so in a way which would make them far more acceptable to the local authorities. Indeed, if they are not acceptable to the local authorities, they will not work.

Good will is needed on both sides and the Amendment would go a long way to establishing it and making the passenger transport authorities a viable and worth while project.

Mr. John Lee (Reading)

I think that on both sides we feel sympathy with the objectives of the Amendment. Many of us would share the view of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) that probably there is no real long-term solution to transport problems which does not take account of land use and town planning. Perhaps some of us on this side who voted against Amendment No. 43 last night, dealing with the question of waiting for the outcome of the Royal Commission deliberations, had some sympathy with the point of view put forward then.

My objection to the Amendment is rather narrow. The wording of the Bill and of the Amendment are not so different in substance but, under the Amendment, the passenger transport authorities would be bound by the decisions of local authorities, and one can easily envisage a situation in which local authorities—whose political composition, about which we on this side are a little sensitive at the moment, can change frequently—may be in conflict with their P.T.A.

The Amendment is quite clear, for it says: … the Authority and the Executive shall ensure that decisions taken with a view to the establishment of such a system are compatible with …". Does this really mean that they must be literally compatible, that the courts could possibly find themselves having to adjudicate?

Suppose a local authority does not like the decision of the passenger transport authority covering its area because it seems inconsistent with a town planning decision. Could it go to the courts and ask that the P.T.A. be restrained from carrying out its functions? It seems a rather bizarre suggestion, but, as far as I can see, the passenger transport authorities would undoubtedly have their discretion seriously restrained by the Amendment. I do not believe that anything like that would help these authorities in their functioning nor to create harmony between them and the local authorities.

On the remainder of the Amendment, there is little between the two sides of the House, but I share the misgivings of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) about the undue emphasis on economic criteria. Of course, we want operative costing, but, under the last Government, we saw the way in which economic criteria were applied too frequently to the question of the continuance or discontinuance of railway lines. We know that much the same sort of treatment would be reintroduced if another Conservative Minister of Transport were to be given his chance. I suspect that, in those circumstances, the railways would suffer severely from further application of economic instead of the social criteria which I think most hon. Members on this side of the House wish to have taken into consideration.

On the whole, I think that the spirit in which the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) moved the Amendment was conciliatory. When the debate is finished, I hope that he will withdraw the Amendment, because we regard it as one of the more harmonious and constructive suggestions put forward by the other side. I ask him to consider whether he thinks it is practicable for a P.T.A. to be subjected to judicial scrutiny whereby its authority could actually be restrained, ppssibly by a court injunction, because this is the inevitable implication behind the mandatory character of the wording in the Amendment.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)

I must take issue with the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee) in his attitude to economic criteria. While not disagreeing that social criteria are important, nevertheless economic criteria are of crucial importance. I feel that the Amendment may do much to avoid the dangers which the P.T.A. system, as envisaged in the Bill, may well have. This is a feeling strongly felt in the West Midlands where there are great anxieties about this system and where the local authorities of the Midlands—

Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)

Would the right hon. Gentleman also agree that even greater anxieties are felt in the West Midlands about the great traffic congestion to which we are subject in Birmingham?

Mr. Lloyd

Of course that is important. But the feeling in the West Midlands, particularly now that there is a superior ability in the local authorities, is that they could work out their transport problems in relation to the other planning problems in the area through the West Midlands Planning Authority Conference. Through that body they believe that they could voluntarily achieve the necessary co-ordination of transport in the same way as they have been successful in dealing with other problems.

In the West Midlands anxiety has been focused on economic criteria by reason of the study that has been made of the experience of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Looking at the figures, the population involved is similar to that of the West Midlands conurbation. Therefore, consideration has been given to seeing how the extraordinarily bad history of that authority —after all, in a country normally used to a high standard of industrial efficiency —can be avoided here. For that reason, I support the Amendment. It is important to focus attention from the beginning on the economic criteria.

The recent authoritative article in The Times, which applies very much to the problems in the West Midlands, talking about the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, says: The basic cause of the failure was the authority's power to levy the rates of the municipalities to cover deficits and the consequent lack of commercial discipline. 10.45 a.m.

The Amendment addresses itself to the question of establishing the importance of commercial discipline from the inception of these authorities. In the American example, the bus undertakings were transferred without compensation and in a short time the managerial staff was doubled. In one of the cities in this area 10 per cent. of the total household rates goes to meet transport losses. These are not my imaginations, or those of the Tory Research Department about what might happen. This is what has happened in the United States. This article is written by a former lecturer on transport at the College of Business Administration of Boston University. He is not engaged in party political controversies here. He describes facts in America.

I will not weary the House with further details. My point is that it is important to stress the aspect of economic viability and economic criteria at the beginning. I draw particular attention to the concluding words of this writer, who is commenting upon an organisation which, in all probability, was the basis on which the Ministry, in devising this plan, based itself thinking it would find a respectable example from an efficient country, but which we know has not worked well and has already accumulated a deficit of £12½ million in three years.

The writer concludes: It is a combination of conceit and prejudice that prevents men—particularly politicians —profiting from the mistakes of others. Let it be clearly stated that we who have lived with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority regard it not as a model to be imitated, but as a warning against rejection of basic commercial and financial disciplines. The Amendment is designed to correct that danger.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) spoke at some length on the experience of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It may save the time of the House if I inform the right hon. Gentleman that Mr. Thomas Lenthall, upon whose bogus comparisons he based his case, was also in the Manchester area. If it would save the time of the House, I can provide the right hon. Gentleman with a complete answer to the propagandist statements that we heard from Mr. Lenthall.

The right hon. Gentleman also referred to congestion on roads in the West Midlands. There is great congestion, too, on roads in Manchester conurbation. Many of he most enlightened people in the Manchester area are intensely keen to see a solution to the transport problem before the reorganisation of local government. Clearly, for reasons only of party tactics, hon. Gentlemen opposite have been in touch with the Conservative groups on local authorities for the purpose of delaying the solution offered by the Bill.

This is a delaying Amendment and there are a number of others like it. The Manchester conurbation urgently needs the reorganisation and modernisation of its passenger transport. The Town Clerk of Manchester wrote to me on 29th January with a number of constructive suggestions about the Bill, but particularly this part of it. He said: I have no doubt that the recommendations of the Committees will be approved by the City Council at their meeting on 7th February, 1968, but as the Bill is now in Committee, I am sending this statement to you now. He wrote on 8th February: The City Council, at their meeting yesterday, did not approve the report of the General and Parliamentary Committee on the Bill, but asked the Committee to give further consideration to the provisions of the Bill.

Mr. Peter Walker

As there is only an hour before the Guillotine falls, may I ask why we are having these delaying tactics? There are no delaying provisions in this Amendment.

Mr. Alfred Morris

I am addressing myself to the need for a passenger transport authority in a conurbation, part of which I have the honour to represent. If the hon. Gentleman, who crosses swords with me journalistically from time to time, does not like to be reminded of his activities with local Conservative groups in this matter, that is a completely different question.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must come to the Amendment, which is whether the Authority and the executive shall consult with local authorities on certain economic criteria.

Mr. Alfred Morris

This Amendment delays the possibility of reorganising passenger transport.

Mr. Peter Walker

Will the hon. Gentleman point to one word in that Amendment which has any reference to delay?

Mr. Alfred Morris

Every word in the Amendment, the whole Amendment deals with it. The Opposition are like the lady who would not say no, but who did not say yes—they do not know whether they are opposed in principle to the P.T.A.s, or whether they are in favour of them. I could go point by point over what the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority is reputed to have done, but to save the time I will not do so. I hope that the House will proceed as quickly as possible to pass the Bill, which will help my area very considerably.

11.0 a.m.

Mr. Swingler

We have had two important statements this morning. The first was in the second leading article of The Times. As one would expect, this was not uncritical of the Transport Bill, and the ideas put forward in it. Nevertheless, it made plain that those responsible for The Times realise that misrepresentations of the Transport Bill have gone dangerously far and that some correction is required to them.

I come to the second important statement, no less important than that which appeared in The Times. I do not wish to say anything to detract from the importance of what was said by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine). And I would certainly be prepared to withdraw anything which I have said, if it has misrepresented the views of the Opposition. But I had gathered both from the conduct of the Opposition in Committee, and from their campaigns in the country, that not only were they opposed to the machinery now under discussion, and to the duties and functions to be given to the executives, but that they were deeply opposed to the P.T.A. concept. Perhaps I had been misled by the fact that the Opposition on Second Reading put up the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) as one of their main speakers. I am sure that I would not misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman if he said that he was not wedded to the P.T.A. concept.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will apply himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Swingler

We are discussing the very important matter upon which I gave an assurance, quoted by the hon. Member, about the remit to be given to the P.T.A.s and executives. As the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) said, this goes to the heart of the matter, to the aims, objects and functions of the P.T.A.s and the P.T.E.s. It is fair to mention this, because the hon. Member for Tavistock said in this debate in crystal-clear terms, that the Opposition are not opposed to the P.T.A. concept.

Since I agree with him on this, I am most anxious that the P.T.A. concept should not be made into a kind of political football game, which might detract from progress in solving the traffic and transport problems of the great cities. It is very important to be clear on that statement from the Opposition. We are now arguing about the details of the remit. I would remind the House of what we said about the origin of the P.T.A. concept and about what is now contained in this part of the Bill, in paragraphs 8 to 10 of the White Paper on Public Transport and Traffic.

We said there that: Local authorities are responsible for the planning of their areas and the development of their local road networks, and they cannot do these jobs effectively unless they also have a broad responsibility for public transport. That was our starting point.

We went on to say that the transport matters: … for which local authorities are to be responsible—the improvement of the local road network, investment in public transport, traffic management measures, the balance between public and private transport—must be focused in an integrated transport plan, which in its turn is related to the general planning for each area. It is important that there is a consensus on that, because we then came to the next stage of arguing about the machinery of implementation. We went on to say, in paragraph 14: … the planning and operation of public transport can only be done intelligently over areas which make sense in transport terms. This means that planning must cover not only a large city or town, but also the area around it from which large numbers of people travel to the centre for work, shopping or pleasure. It went on to explain that we were in the difficulty of trying to form consortia of local authorities, or an authority with a number of local authorities represented upon it, because there were not, in the country, sufficiently large categories of local government covering wide enough areas to whom one could naturally give this power and function of planning transport policy. If we already had such authorities, through the agreed part of the Royal Commission, we would be in a much better position. The whole of the argument about these authorities arises because they are instruments devised to cover an area wider than that now covered by any local authority. They will receive grants from the State in respect of improvement of bus fleets and so on, and we have to devise a constitution for them.

I gave an assurance in Committee, quoted by the hon. Member for Tavistock. I have thought long and deep about this, and am very much attracted to the Amendment that he has moved. There is not much between us on these matters. Obviously, we agree about the encouragement of safety, about the need for the harmonisation of traffic, parking, and public transport policies, for which we are setting up the P.T.A.s and the P.T.E.s. In Clause 18(l)(j) we place upon the P.T.A. a statutory duty to propose machinery for securing coordination between the policies which it produces, "and the preparation and execution by the councils of constituent areas of any plans and policies of those councils with respect to traffic regulation and parking."

Therefore, it is quite clear all the way along the line that we want to achieve that compatibility. We also want the P.T.A.s and P.T.E.s to consider the economic criteria and to do proper costing. They have to accept financial responsibility, and we are providing in the Bill for certain new criteria because they are akin to local authorities. They will have to be able to do proper costings, from which they will have to work out the economic criteria and to operate across the board in exercising their financial responsibilities.

There is, therefore, not a great deal of difference between us except on the following point, which is the obstacle to acceptance of this Amendment. It has been pointed out to me in all our discussions that we are setting up P.T.A.s on which a number of different local authorities are to be represented who, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen were pointing out last night, will decide under other hats on their traffic and highway policies, and that these may not necessarily be campatible with each other, at any rate in the early stages in relation to traffic and parking controls, and so on. But if we were to accept the wording proposed in this Amendment it would confront a P.T.A. with an impossible task. If there were such incompatibility, as there might be and as there is today in and around the conurbations, in the policies of the councils of constituent areas, how could the P.T.A. make its public transport policy compatible with the policies of those councils?

It presupposes that we have already achieved harmonisation of traffic and parking policies of all the councils of the constituent areas. I wish we could say that we had done so, but that is not the situation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Lee) quite rightly pointed out, if we were to accept this Amendment, a P.T.A. might be held to be acting ultra vires if, in an area where it made its policy compatible with that of seven other local authorities, that policy was incompatible with that of another constituent local authority, which was pursuing a different policy. Clearly that would be an absurd situation.

It is solely for that reason that I find myself unable to accept this Amendment. But I give the assurance that we are perfectly prepared to think further about this. We appreciate the point that has been made on the vagueness of the wording about having due regard to economy and safety of operation, and so on. We accept the need for the aim of achieving coherence and harmony between policies on public transport and those on traffic and parking. We will think further on this and if there are ways and means whereby we can make the objectives set out in the Bill and the remit to P.T.A.s more effective, then we are perfectly prepared in further stages of the Bill to consider a further Amendment.

Mr. Peter Walker

In view of the fact that there are 15 debates yet to come, and the Guillotine falls in 40 minutes, I would appeal to the House to pass on to other debates. I believe that the Minister of State, in his last few remarks, exposed the weakness of his whole concept of P.T.A.s. It is all very well for him to mention The Times leader, which pointed out that the two great weaknesses it sees in the Bill are the P.T.A.s as envisaged by this Government and quantity licensing. The objection of The Times to P.T.A.s is similar our ours. The objective of the Government is to operate and to own buses whereas the object of our concept is properly to co-ordinate planning in these matters.

The Minister said it may well be found that local authorities do not agree on planning and parking policies, that this would be one of the difficulties and that, therefore, the Government cannot accept the wording proposed. He is really saying that that is a difficulty which the Government are not going to face in any way, because as yet P.T.A.s have no powers in these spheres, and rightly so. That is why we were wise to suggest

waiting until properly elected local government councils have all these powers.

Under present circumstances, a Birmingham P.T.A. may include Worcester and there may be for the County of Worcester one representative on the P.T.A.; and as far as policies are concerned, he will be outvoted by those more directly connected with Birmingham and by the Ministry of Transport's own representatives, so that it cannot be said that under this concept the policies in Worcester are to be co-ordinated with the work of the P.T.A. This Amendment would provide more sensible criteria for P.T.A.s and that is why I ask my hon. Friends to press it to a Division.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 228, Noes 274.

Division No. 178.] AYES [11.8 a.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Currie, G. B. H. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dalkeith, Earl of Holland, Philip
Astor, John Dance, James Hordern, Peter
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.) Hornby, Richard
Awdry, Daniel d'Avlgdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Howell, David (Guildford)
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Hunt, John
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Digby, Simon Wingfield Iremonger, T. L.
Batsford, Brian Dodds-Parker, Douglas Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Doughty, Charles Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Bell, Ronald Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Drayson, G. B. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Goo & Fhm) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kaberry, Sir Donald
Berry, Hn. Anthony Eden, Sir John Kerby, Capt. Henry
Bessell, Peter Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kershaw, Anthony
Biffen, John Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Kimball, Marcus
Biggs-Davison, John Emery, Peter King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Birch Rt Hn Nigel Errington, Sir Eric Kirk, Peter
Black, Sir Cyril Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) Kitson, Timothy
Blaker, Peter Farr, John Lambton, Viscount
Boardman Ton, (Leicester. S.W.) Fisher, Nigel Lancaster, col. C.G.
Body, Richard Fletcher-Cook, Charles Lane, David
Bossom, Sir Clive Fortescue, Tim Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Foster, Sir John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Galbraith, Hn. T. C. Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Brewis, John Gibson-Watt, David Longden, Gilbert
Brinton, Sir Tatton Giles, Read-Adm. Morgan Lubbock, Eric
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Glyn, Sir Richard MacArthur, Ian
Bruce-cardyne, J. Goodhart, Philip Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ro ss&Crom'ty)
Bryan, Paul Gower, Raymond Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M) Grant-Ferris, R. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Cresham Cooke, R. McMaster, Stanley
Bullus, Sir Eric Grieve, Percy Maemillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Burden, F. A. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maddan, Martin
Campbell, Gordon Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maginnis, John E.
Carlisle, Mark Gurden, Harold Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Carr, nt. Hn. Robert Hall, John (Wycombe) Marten, Neil
Cary, Sir Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maude, Angus
Channon, H. P. G. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mawby, Ray
Chichester-Clark, R. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Clark, Henry Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Clegg, Walter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Cooke, Robert Harvie Anderson, Miss Miscampbell, Norman
Corfield, F. V. Hawkins, Paul Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Costain, A. P. Hay, John Monro, Hector
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Montgomery, Fergus
Crouch, David Heseltine, Michael More, Jasper
Crowder, F. P. Higgirts, Terence L. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hill, J. E. B. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Murton, Oscar Royle, Anthony Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Neave, Airey Russell, Sir Ronald Vickers, Dame Joan
Nicholls, Sir Harmar St. John-Stevas, Norman Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Nott, John Scott, Nicholas Wall, Patrick
Onsow, Cranley Scott-Hopkins, James Walters, Dennis
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Sharpies, Richard Webster, David
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Page, Graham (Crosby) Silvester, Frederick Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Sinclair, Sir George Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Pardoe, John Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Smith, John (London & W'minster) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Peel, John Speed, Keith Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Peyton, John Stainton, Keith Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pike, Miss Mervyn Steel, David (Roxburgh) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Pink, R. Bonner Stodart, Anthony Woodnutt, Mark
Pounder, Rafton Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Worsley, Marcus
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Tapsell, Peter Wright, Esmond
Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wylie, N. R.
Pym, Francis Taylor,EdwardM.(G'gow,Cathcart) Younger, Hn. George
Quenneli, Miss J. M. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Teeling, Sir William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Temple, John M. Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Ridsdale, Julian Tilney, John
Albu, Austen Davies, Ifor (Gower) Heffer, Eric S.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Henig, Stanley
Alldritt, Walter Delargy, Hugh Hobden, Denis (Brighton, K'town)
Allen, Scholefield Dell, Edmund Hooley, Frank
Anderson, Donald Dempsey, James Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Archer, Peter Dewar, Donald Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Armstrong, Ernest Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Dickens, James Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Dobson, Ray Howie, W.
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Doig, Peter Huckfield, Leslie
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dunn, James A. Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Barnes, Michael Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Barnett, Joel Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Baxter, William Eadie, Alex Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bence, Cyril Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hunter, Adam
Benn,'Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Edwards, William (Merioneth) Hynd, John
Bennett, James (G'eow Bridgeton) Ellis, John Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Bidwell, Sydney English, Michael Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)
Binns, John Ennals, David Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)
Binhnp, E. S. Ensor, David Janner, Sir Barnett
Blackburn, F. Fernyhough, E. Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jager, George (Goole)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Foley, Maurice Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Booth, Albert Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Ford, Ben Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Boyden, James Forrester, John Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Fowler, Gerry Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Bradley, Tom Fraser, John (Norwood) Judd, Frank
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Freeson, Reginald Kelley, Richard
Brooks, Edwin Galpern, Sir Myer Kenyon, Clifford
Broughton, Dr. A D. D. Gardner, Tony Lawson, George
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Garrett, W. E. Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Ginsburg, David Ledger, Ron
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Gourlay, Harry Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Buchanan,Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Lee, John (Reading)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Lestor, Miss Joan
Cant, R. B. Gregory, Arnold Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Carmichael, Neil Grey, Charles (Durham) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Chapman, Donald Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Lipton, Marcus
Coe, Denis Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Loughlin, Charles
Coleman, Donald Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Luard, Evan
Conlan, Bernard Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hamling, William McBride, Neil
Crawshaw, Richard Hannan, William McCann, John
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Harper, Joseph MacColl, James
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Macdonald, A. H.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Dalyelf, Tam Haseldine, Norman Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Hattersley, Roy Mackie, John
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hazell, Bert Maclennan, Robert
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, c.) Parker, John (Dagenham) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
McNamara, J. Kevin Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Stonehouse, John
Macpherson, Malcolm Pavitt, Laurence Strains, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Summenkill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Swain, Thomas
Mailalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Pentland, Norman Swingler, Stephen
Manuel, Archie Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Symonds, J. B.
Mapp, Charles Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Taverne, Dick
Marks, Kenneth Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Marquand, David Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Price, William (Rugby) Thornton, Ernest
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Probert, Arthur Tinn, James
Mayhew, Christopher Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Urwin, T. W.
Mendelson, J. J. Rankin, John Varley, Eric G.
Mikardo, Ian Rees, Merlyn Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Millan, Bruce Reynolds, G. W. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Rhodes, Geoffrey Wallace, George
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Richard, Ivor Watkins, David (Consett)
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Molloy, William Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Weitzman, David
Moonman, Eric Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Welibeloved, James
Morgan, Elyston (Cardiganshire) Robertson, John (Paisley) Whitaker, Ben
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as) White, Mrs. Eirene
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Whitlock, William
Moyle, Roland Rodgers, William (Stockton) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Murray, Albert Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Neal, Harold Rose, Paul Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Newens, Stan Ross, Rt. Hn. William Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Oakes, Gordon Ryan, John Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Ogden, Eric Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
O'Malley, Brian Sheldon, Robert Winnick, David
Oram, Albert E. Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Orme, Stanley Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Woof, Robert
Oswald, Thomas Sitkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wyatt, Woodrow
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, St'tn) Skeffington, Arthur Yates, Victor
Owen, Will (Morpeth) Slater, Joseph
Paget, R. T. Small, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Snow, Julian Mr. J. D. Concannon and Mr. Ioan L. Evans.
Park, Trevor Spriggs, Leslie
The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)

I beg to move Amendment No. 47, in page 14, line 26, at end insert— (4A) Each of the councils of constituent areas and each of the following bodies namely, the Authority, the Executive and any subsidiary of the Executive, shall have power to enter into and carry out agreements with one another for the giving of assistance by that council to that body or, as the case may be, by that body to that council by way of making available to the assisted party any services or facilities provided by, or any property of, the assisting party. It might well be called a mutual assistance Amendment. It is clear, and I think it explains itself. The power might be used, for example, where an authority or executive wishes to garage and service a council's vehicles. I leave it to the House to decide whether it wants any more information.

Amendment agreed to.

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