HC Deb 05 April 1978 vol 947 cc414-5
4. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total of: (a) capital, and (b) revenue support by Central Government for public transport in 1977; and what are the estimated figures for 1978.

Mr. William Rodgers

In 1977, £50 million and £404 million respectively. The equivalent figures for 1978 are expected to be £62 million and £484 million. These figures take no account of rate support grant and transport supplementary grant, as these are block grants and cannot be attributed to individual items of expenditure.

Mr. Hooley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have probably reached a stage in public transport policy at which revenue subsidies may be very much more important than subsidies for ambitious capital schemes? Will bear it in mind in calculating the overall subsidy to public transport in future departmental estimates?

Mr. Rodgers

Yes. I think that my my hon. Friend reflects the policy decision that was embodied in the transport policy White Paper published last June and elaborated on, in part, in the two White Papers that I published yesterday. It is clearly the case that support for public transport must have priority.

Mr. Thorne

In regard to forward planning for transport, is the Secretary of State prepared to consider the Lucas Aerospace shop stewards' corporate plan, which includes provision for traffic systems which may assist us on transport generally?

Mr. Rodgers

I am not familar with the details of the plan, but I shall be very happy to consider it if my hon. Friend will let me see it, because he is quite right to make the point that effective schemes of traffic management are very relevant to the solution of transport problems.

Mr. Ridsdale

If the Minister agrees that revenue is important, will he see that help is given to bring in a national concessionary fares scheme?

Mr. Rodgers

We have discussed the matter many times in the past. I was very glad to be able to issue a circular lately which made clear my view that there should be, as a minimum, half concessionary fares for all concerned throughout the country. I hope that those recalcitrant local authorities will now come into line.