HC Deb 14 February 1973 vol 850 cc1264-6
10. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give a general direction to the National Bus Company to extend half-fares for schoolchildren to cover those aged up to 16 years.

Mr. Peyton

No, Sir.

Mr. Dempsey

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recall that the principle was introduced to enable young persons to travel at concessionary fares until they reached the compulsory school leaving age of 14? Now that the school leaving age is 16, should not they continue to travel at those concessionary rates? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the cost of fares to schoolchildren has more than trebled, and that this is especially hard on young people who receive no financial assistance from the local education authority? Why does not the right hon. Gentleman, as Minister responsible for transport undertakings, give a direction to enable such young people to enjoy half fares until they reach the compulsory school leaving age?

Mr. Peyton

I believe that the original concession was made by the undertakings on commercial grounds. I regard the habit of Ministers giving directions to nationalised industries as very bad, but I do not doubt that the Chairman of the National Bus Company will take careful note of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

If my hon. Friend will do nothing, will he consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to see whether she will help in the matter? It is one of great concern to those who wish to extend their children's education as far as possible.

Mr. Peyton

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science will note what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

The Minister should not be so reticent about giving directives. He should take a lesson from his right hon. Friend—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should ask a question.

Mr. Brown

Will the Minister take a lesson from his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, who only this week has given what is more or less a directive to the Tyneside Passenger Transport Authority that it should not introduce free fares for old people in the Tyneside area?

Mr. Peyton

I hardly think that that arises out of this Question. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman who is so busy shouting from a sitting position is confusing passenger transport authorities with nationalised industries. I am asked to give a general directive to a nationalised industry. I have said that, on the whole, giving such directives is, in my opinion, a bad habit.

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