HC Deb 19 April 1982 vol 22 cc6-7
6. Mr. Tom Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what discussion he has had with county councils concerning the provision of free bus passes for schoolchildren.

Mr. Michael Roberts

None, Sir.

Mr. Ellis

Is the Minister aware that some of my constituents who are not prepared to allow their children to walk two and a half miles and more to school along busy main roads are genuinely unable to raise the £50 or £60 a month to pay for their children's bus fares? Does the Minister appreciate that from today, the beginning of the summer term, these children are no longer enjoying the right to universal free education? What advice would he give to such parents?

Mr. Roberts

I am, of course, aware of the problem in the Clwyd local education authority. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the decision to withdraw discretionary free bus passes from children is a matter for that authority.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is that not an unsatisfactory answer, given that in my constituency parents at Broughton who send their children to Saltney high school find that their domestic budgets are being blown to bits because of the extra money that they must find? Is it not about time that the Minister considered giving special and urgent aid to the local authority and to the parents?

Mr. Roberts

I can understand the anxiety of the parents and of the hon. Gentleman, but I can only give the assurance that all children living beyond the statutory walking distances are entitled to free transport and that the authority will continue to make provision for those children.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Will the Minister state his policy when children are bussed free of charge considerable distances beyond schools that provide similar and suitable bilingual education? Should not children attend, where humanly possible, the nearest appropriate school that has already been the parental choice?

Mr. Roberts

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to table that question I shall consider it.

Mr. D. E. Thomas


Mr. Speaker

Order. Is the hon. Member's constituency in Clwyd or Gwynedd? It is in Gwynedd. I am sorry. Mr. Hooson to ask question No. 7.