HC Deb 15 June 1972 vol 838 cc1704-5
9. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she now expects the working party on school transport provisions to produce their report.

42. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she now expects to receive the report of the working party which is reviewing the arrangements for free school transport.

Mrs. Thatcher

As I said in my Answer to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on 13th April, it is too early to forecast how long the working party will take to complete its work.—[Vol. 834, c. 1419.]

Mr. Skinner

As the working party's terms of reference include the high cost of travelling just inside the three-mile area, does not the Secretary of State think it absurd for local education authorities such as Derbyshire to stick to the rigidity of that Section of the Education Act which results, certainly in one instance in my constituency, in children having to travel over bleak, remote countryside just inside the three-mile limit or having to pay as much as £1.20 in bus fares? Does not she think there should be less rigidity in the remaining few months until the working party issues its report?

Mrs. Thatcher

There is not a great deal of rigidity, because local education authorities have discretion to pay transport fares within the statutory limits. It is up to them whether they exercise that power.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of urgency for the resolving of this problem? This matter has been on the stocks for a long time and there is a great deal of dissatisfaction, as has already been shown by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). Will my right hon. Friend do everything she can to expedite the report so that it is issued before the end of the Summer recess?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is important that the working party should be able to do a thorough job. A good deal of information has to be acquired. But I will bring the remarks of my hon. Friend and of the hon. Member for Bolsover to the attention of the working party.