HC Deb 25 February 1985 vol 74 cc7-8
8. Mr. Stott

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what effect he expects abolition of the metropolitan counties to have on the use of section 20 grants.

Mr. David Mitchell

Abolition of the metropolitan county councils should not have any effect on support for local rail passenger services under section 20.

Mr. Stott

I am as satisfied with that answer as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) was with his. Is the Minister aware that the current Molotov cocktail that the Government have been mixing in respect of the TSG reshaping, the abolition of the metropolitan counties, rate capping and bus deregulation must at least pose some element of uncertainty regarding the continuation of section 20 grants?

Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that, under the legislation we are discussing in Committee, the PTEs will have to be broken down into smaller Companies Act company units? How can those companies sustain the level of money required to keep those rail services in operation at the present time? If the Bill goes through without substantial amendment, will not many of the section 20 lines currently operating in our large cities have to close?

Mr. Mitchell

I am very sorry that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the Bill being discussed in Committee. When he looks at it in more detail, and when we come to discuss the relevant clauses, he will discover that the broken down companies of the PTEs are not responsible for providing subsidy under section 20. That will remain a matter for the PTA and the whole PTE, not the bus operations.