HC Deb 16 November 1977 vol 939 cc572-3
22. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to reform the bus licensing laws; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Horam

My right hon. Friend's plans are fully set out in the White Paper on Transport Policy issued on 27th June and the consultation paper on bus licensing issued on 1st August, copies of which are available in the Library.

Mr. King

As the hon. Gentleman's Department drafted a clause in a Bill as long ago as 1973, has it not now had ample time to consider the matter and is it not time that we saw something in legislative form? Can the hon. Gentleman guarantee that when legislation appears it will bring badly needed help to smaller enterprises in rural areas?

Mr. Horam

The hon. Gentleman should know that we already have legislation in the Experimental Areas Bill, which will be useful in this respect. Any further legislation that we may be able to bring forward this Session will add to the general reforming tradition of successive Labour Governments in this respect, which contrasts markedly with the inaction of successive Conservative Governments.

Mr. Norman Fowler

The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that last remark. If these plans are now so essential, why did the Labour Government in 1974 scrap the reforms to help rural transport that they inherited from the previous Conservative Government? Is it not clear that the Government have wasted four years in respect of rural transport? What they are now proposing is too little and too late.

Mr. Horam

We scrapped the Conservative proposals because they were wrong and would have destroyed many essential bus services. Anyone who considers the respective records of the various Governments over the years must conclude that Labour has made practical and sensible reforms, whereas the Conservatives have simply talked about ideology and have achieved nothing.

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