§ 2. Mr. MacFarquhar
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a further statement on rural transport.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. John Horam)
What rural transport needs now is three things—finance, basic stability and imaginative development. Government policies aim to provide the finance by a £15 million increase in annual provisions for bus services outside the conurbations, the stability by requiring shire county councils to prepare and give effect to a statutory public transport plan. As for imaginative development, this must be mainly for local initiative but our proposals for community buses and social car schemes will be of great help.
§ Mr. MacFarquhar
I appreciate the efforts that have been made by Ministers, 470 but is my hon. Friend aware hat my constituents are extremely perturbed at the Trent Bus Company asking for a further 12 per cent. Increase—the fifth increase in just over two years, bringing the total increase to 55 per cent.? In order to ameliorate such situations, could he, in addition to the local initiatives that he hopes to encourage, urgently investigate reports that at least one of the national bus companies has managed to save money for itself and its customers by the imaginative and flexible use of routing and timing?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We are getting back to long supplementary questions. I hope that we shall have shorter supplementaries and shorter replies.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
Will the Government introduce national concessionary bus fares? If not, will they at least implement the promise given to two councils that they may have their own schemes?
§ Mr. Bagier
In his consideration of county transport plans, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of rural railway services and try to ensure that when county plans are drawn up the Government do not threaten to withdraw their support because of the cost? Is he aware that in inclement weather, for example, it can be vital to have such links open?