HC Deb 24 February 1970 vol 796 cc974-5
25. Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

asked the Minister of Transport if he will take steps to prevent bus fares in London being subsidised by fare increases in rural areas.

Mr. Bob Brown

Bus services in Greater London are mainly provided by the London Transport Executive and no question of cross subsidy from operations elsewhere in the country thus arises. As far as the operation of London Country Bus Services Limited are concerned, the financial target agreed with the National Bus Company makes specific allowances for the estimated losses on the Green Line and London country services that the company recently took over.

Mr. Wilson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is suspicion in the country that not only are there too many offices in London to which people have to come from the country, but that the country people are paying for the service?

Mr. Brown

The question of offices is not for me. The suspicion, which I think was engendered by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) in the debate on the country bus services. I answered fully on that occasion. There is no question of people in the country paying for London bus services.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that in fixing the target for the National Bus Company, which absorbs a £400,000 loss at the expense of provincial fare and rate payers, he is admitting that London is being subsidised by those people in the West Country whose fares are now going up?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman is either a very bad listener or a very slow learner. I clearly explained, in the debate on country bus services, that when we assessed the target for the National Bus Company we made allowance specifically for the losses that the Green Line buses will make for a further two years.

Mr. Lipton

Is it not a fact that since the Tory controlled Greater London Council has taken over London Transport we need all the help that we can get from Truro, Tavistock and other outlying parts?

Mr. Brown

It is clearly for the G.L.C. to answer for its policy on transport. I suggest that my hon. Friend should talk to the G.L.C. As a provincial, it is fair to say that London Transport has been helped by provincials for far too long.