HC Deb 05 May 1971 vol 816 cc1368-9
29. Mr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local authorities are currently using the power to support essential rural bus services; and what action is being taken by his Department to ensure wider use by local authorities of these powers.

Mr. Younger

Five local authorities are receiving Government grant in support of rural bus subsidies; two more have submitted applications to my right hon. Friend; and I understand that others have proposals under consideration. Whether or not local authorities exercise their power is a matter for their own discretion, but my right hon. Friend has fully explained to them the financial support the Government can give.

Mr. Gray

My hon. Friend will be aware of the very real hardship which can occur in rural areas in which bus services are at risk. Will he bear in mind the very great danger which would result from any further rail closures which may be contemplated in those areas, which would certainly make the position even more serious than it is at present?

Mr. Younger

As my hon. Friend knows, the rail closure question is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. On bus services, I hope that local authorities will take the closest look at any services which are being withdrawn in their areas, and will consider the fact that the Government provide a 50 per cent. grant immediately, and also support the remaining expenditure by the local authority through the rate support grant.