HC Deb 28 January 1981 vol 997 cc914-5
8. Mr. Dobson

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange for his Department to study the impact of new investment on public transport in London.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

We already do so when allocating transort supplementary grant to the Greater London Council, considering proposals submitted by the British Railways Board and drawing up our own trunk road programme.

Mr. Dobson

When the Under-Secretary's staff are studying the problem of capital investment in Greater London, will they bear in mind the comparison between the London Transport system and that of the Paris Metro, which has had four times as much capital invested in it over the last 10 years, and as a consequence has had one-fifth increase in user, compared with one-fifth decrease in user on London Transport? Is he aware that over that period, London Transport fares have risen more than four fold, while in Paris the real cost of travelling on the Metro has halved over the last 20 years?

Mr. Clarke

Twenty-five per cent. of the total TSG goes to London now, half of which is spent on public transport. Paris obviously has an excellent system but, as I understand it, the French Government are trying to put up fares to recoup some of the losses which are incurred on the system, and which are being carried by taxation on the employers in the capital. It is often suggested that we should have the same system here. We have a tax on employers in the capital—it is called rates. They are already rather high, and there is a limit to the amount of taxpayers' and ratepayers' money that can go into a system in any one city.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will my hon. Friend say why London Transport costs so much to run, bearing in mind that when British Rail offered its cheap fares to pensioners and the retired of £1 return to any place in the United Kingdom, it cost my constituents more to get from Euston station to Westminster than it did to get from Macclesfield to Euston and from Euston to Macclesfield?

Mr. Clarke

The GLC, not the Government, is responsible for London Transport, and neither body has control over fares policies. The British Rail offer was a special one-month offer, but we encourage offers of that kind. We are anxious to get London Transport and British Rail to act together better in arranging their fare structures, and I am sure that anything which my right hon. Friend and the GLC can do to encourage their respective client authorities to improve matters will be done.