HC Deb 09 February 1977 vol 925 cc1429-30
20. Mr. Robin F. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of bus replacement services for rail passenger line closures since 1963 have remained in operation to date.

Mr. William Rodgers

Full information is not readily available, but I understand that some two-thirds of the bus services introduced for this purpose in the period 1969 to 1973 were still in operation in 1976, some of them in modified form.

Mr. Cook

As those figure show that, conversely, one-third were not still in existence, will my right hon. Friend explain how the assured bus replacement services referred to in the Green Paper will differ from the previous bus replacements, which clearly were not assured? Will he, in particular, insist that British Rail takes full account of the views of the Transport Users Consultative Committee before it persists in its own bizarre idea of turning some railways into busways?

Mr. Rodgers

I certainly agree that British Rail should consult widely about any proposals that it makes for changes, as it must also take account of the information, such as it is, about what has happened in the past. However, again, this is an area for thoughtful and informed discussion and an attempt to find out what makes the best success in the interests of the man or woman who wants a convenient form of public transport. I would not wish to forecast the outcome, but I hope that discussions will continue in that spirit.

Mr. Lee

Without wishing to detract from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), may I ask my right hon. Friend to address himself more to the question of the closure of roads for economic purposes? He will be aware that he informed the House some time ago that, as far as he was aware, there had been no closures of roads for economic reasons, while we have had thousands of miles of railways closed during the last 25 years.

Mr. Rodgers

I hope that I have grasped the burden of what my hon. Friend asked. I think that the answer is that I shall give it my consideration.