HC Deb 21 May 1980 vol 985 cc478-80
4. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Minister of Transport what capital programmes for London Transport he has approved over the last 12 months.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

My right hon. Friend does not approve London Transport's capital investment programmes. These are for the Greater London Council to decide within the total level of resources available to it.

Mr. Ross

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I am rather disappointed with that answer? May I press on him the need for London Transport to do something about the provision of proper collections of fares before it has another fares increase? Is he aware that the hiatus caused by none of the machines taking the necessary coinage and the lack of staff is causing enormous delays? If there is a need for capital expenditure, and if that comes within the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport, could it not be released quickly?

Mr. Clarke

My answer is an explanation of the constitutional position. The Greater London Council is responsible for London Transport. I know that it is considering ways of improving the productivity and efficiency of the London Transport operation. Improved methods of fare collection are one of the factors that it is considering.

Mr. Neubert

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that London Transport makes substantial amounts of capital expenditure on the provision of bus shelters throughout my constituency and that these are often obtrusive, unreasonably close to people's front doors and frequently generate hooliganism? In this age of participation and as it is nearly 50 years since the relevant statute was enacted, is it not time that London Transport's arbitrary powers to reduce amenities in the way that I have described were both constrained and curtailed?

Mr. Clarke

I am sure that we all know from our constituency experience that bus stops and bus shelters are rarely popular when sited near houses. I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of London Transport and to those responsible for the use of the powers. The continued existence of the powers will be borne in mind when we consider local authority law, including measures now before the House, and when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment considers further legislative proposals.

Mr. Spearing

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied with the capital approvals that his Department has made and may be making in future for buses and bus design? Is is not a fact that the Treasury pays out considerable sums for buses that do not work and are now being sold off? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman examine these issues as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Clarke

We do not approve capital expenditure when giving new bus grant. We merely consider the eligibility for grant of expenditure that has been incurred by London Transport. We all know that London Transport has had problems with its Fleetline buses, which it is selling after about seven years. It is beginning to acquire a more reliable fleet that is more suitable to its needs.