HC Deb 14 November 1983 vol 48 cc597-8
8. Dr. Twinn

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to introduce legislation to set up London Regional Transport.

Mr. Ridley

I shall be introducing legislation shortly.

Dr. Twinn

Will my right hon. Friend condemn the appointment of Left-wingers to the London Transport board? Does he agree that it will make the sensible management of London Transport virtually impossible and work against the interests of travellers in London?

Mr. Ridley

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that the job of the management and board of London Transport is to manage the underground railway and the buses. Politics should be left to the GLC and it is a great mistake to seek to politicise the board.

Mr. Dobson

Will the Secretary of State confirm that it will not be his intention in the legislation to oblige London boroughs to provide concessionary fares for pensioners and the disabled?

Mr. Ridley

I say to the hon. Gentleman: The Government does not consider that a mandatory national concessionary fares scheme would be appropriate. The hon. Gentleman may care to know that I am quoting from the Labour Government's 1977 White Paper on transport.

Mr. Tracey

Pending the introduction of legislation to set up the London Regional Transport authority, will my right hon. Friend consider bringing in a short Bill to prevent any further packing of the London Transport board without proper consultation with the chairman?

Mr. Ridley

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already said that if anything untoward happens we shall not hesitate to protect the rights of Londoners, as travellers and ratepayers. I hope that it will be possible for the board of London Transport to continue to run the good services that it intends to run.

Mr. Cohen

Will the Minister ensure, through safeguards in legislation, that no local authority provides less for pensioners in the form of free travel passes than the GLC now provides?

Mr. Ridley

I must admit to the hon. Gentleman that some boroughs are causing me worry. They are Brent, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. They have said that they are not prepared even to discuss the possibility of concessionary travel arrangements reverting to the boroughs when the GLC is abolished.