HC Deb 12 November 1984 vol 67 cc399-400
4. Mr. Barron

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the likely effect on transport in south Yorkshire if the Government's abolition plans for the South Yorkshire county council are enacted.

Mr. Ridley

The removal of an unnecessary and extravagant tier of local government in the metropolitan counties will ensure that transport services are provided more efficiently and economically.

Mr. Barron

Will the Secretary of State elaborate on that reply? The South Yorkshire passenger transport executive will still exist after the abolition of the county council, but it will be one of the quangos which the Conservatives promised to get rid of if they were returned to office. How will the transport supplementary grant affect south Yorkshire? Will we be able to keep the shining example of public transport that we have had in the area for the past 10 years?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman may live to regret calling the councillors elected for districts in south Yorkshire a quango; they will be elected councillors from the districts.

I agree with the last Labour Government, who made it clear that they thought that fares in south Yorkshire were absurdly low. Until a small rise last year, fares had not been increased since 1975 and the cost of that policy to ratepayers in the area is simply insupportable. The twin changes that we are making will lead to better and more efficient transport in south Yorkshire and, I hope, a relief of the burden on ratepayers.

Mr. Gregory

Does my right hon. Friend agree that by moving in this direction the "absurdly low" level imposed in south Yorkshire—I think that reference was made to about 8p per average fare—will mean an equitable solution for all those who contribute to rates? In the people's republic of south Yorkshire, a minority at present benefit at the expense of the majority—the business and commercial ratepayers.

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When I say that the cost of subsidising public transport in south Yorkshire in the current year looks like being £59 million, the House will realise the enormity of what is happening there.

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