HC Deb 30 July 1984 vol 65 cc7-8
5. Mr. Tony Banks

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the terms of reference he has given to the new chairman of London Regional Transport; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ridley

I set the objectives for London Regional Transport in letters to the chairman dated 20 July and 24 July, both of which have been published in the Official Report, at columns 373–74 and 555–57.

Mr. Banks

What directives has the Secretary of State issued to the chairman of London Regional Transport about fares and subsidies? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm, or deny that fares will increase in London by 25 per cent. next year and that in 1986–87 there will be a 21 million mile cut in bus mileage, a 9 million mile cut in underground mileage and a loss of 9,000 jobs?

Mr. Ridley

I utterly deny all the figures which the hon. Gentleman has invented.

Mr. Dykes

Although this is a matter for the board rather than for my right hon. Friend, will he confirm the Government's enthusiasm for the continuation of the no-smoking ban for ever?

Mr. Ridley

As a smoker myself, my hon. Friend puts me in a corner. I must rely on the time-honoured ministerial statement that that is a matter for the board.

Mr. Cartwright

Will the Secretary of State assure the House that London Regional Transport will be able to undertake the long-overdue capital investment that is necessary to provide Londoners with a modern, up-to-date, efficient public transport system?

Mr. Ridley

Yes, Sir. One of the great advantages of being able to reduce revenue subsidies by half during the next three years is that more money will be available for capital investment, thereby improving the system.

Mr. Jessel

Now that London's buses and tubes no longer belong to the Greater London council, will my right hon. Friend ask the chairman of London Regional Transport to take down the black posters currently appearing on the backs of buses which say, "GLC Working for London," and replace them with red ones saying "GLC Working for Moscow"?

Mr. Ridley

I believe that those advertising posters arise out of a contract between London Transport, as it was, and the GLC. If my hon. Friend would like to enter into a contract to advertise on the buses, I am sure the chairman of the LRT would be only too happy to discuss it with him.

Mr. Spearing

Reverting to the denials of the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Standard reported that his hon. Friend the Minister of State said that fares would go up by 20 per cent.? Is he aware that the chairman of London Regional Transport said that under his direction it would be necessary to reduce the number of jobs by 6,000 and that he could give no guarantee that the reduction would be achieved by voluntary redundancy?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman should listen to what my hon. Friend the Minister of State says, not read the headlines in the Standard without reading through to the words that she used. If he did, he would find that she said that although fares might need to rise roughly in line with inflation, there might have to be an initial adjustment. The figure quoted by the hon. Member of Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) was totally false.