HC Deb 19 October 1972 vol 843 cc427-8
4. Dr. Marshall

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

Mrs. Thatcher

I cannot forecast how long it will take the working party to complete its work and submit a report to me.

Dr. Marshall

When the working party reports, will the right hon. Lady treat any recommendations which it makes as a matter of great urgency in order to remove both the dangers and the hardship faced by many scholars and parents, such as those living at Old Goole in my constituency?

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall certainly do so, because I know of the widespread interest in this topic on both sides of the House.

Mr. Madel

May I draw attention to the school transport situation in my constituency? Bedfordshire is in the process of going comprehensive, and certain parents in the Houghton Regis and Dunstable area have experienced difficulties in getting their children to school. Will my right hon. Friend have talks with the Bedfordshire Education Authority and local bus companies to see whether the difficulties can be overcome?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think that local education authorities have sufficient discretionary powers to deal with transport. problems, but if my hon. Friend has any particular query in mind and raises it with the Department we shall do what we can to help.

Mr. David Clark

Will the right hon. Lady give her assessment of the effect of VAT on school transport, in view of the fact that it will be levied on certain means of school transport?

Mrs. Thatcher

The discretionary powers of local education authorities will, I think, still be sufficient to deal with the matter if there were any increase.