HC Deb 01 December 1986 vol 106 cc618-9
Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will make a statement on the current situation following the deregulation of bus services under the Transport Act 1985.

Mr. Moore

Deregulation has gone well in most areas, and local teething problems are being solved. There are service improvements in many places, for example, the introduction of minibuses, and worthwhile savings in subsidy have been made by many local authorities.

Mr. Ross

Is the Minister aware that there are differences of view about deregulation? Does he accept that it should be common ground that there are problems of timetabling and the booking of through services? Does he accept that local authorities have a part to play, if he will instruct them to do that and provide finance to allow them to carry that out?

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman is correct. There is a clear role for local authorities to play. However, the question is whether that should be voluntary or statutory bound. In a recent debate the hon. Gentleman drew our attention to the west midlands, where one operator is running 90 per cent. of the services, and where there is no apparent difficulty. I will examine the hon. Gentleman's point. I do not think that there is a need for cash, but there is a need and an opportunity for authorities to co-ordinate.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the management of Midland Fox on the introduction of its new fox cub service, which has brought a successful minibus service to the county of Leicestershire, reduced the fares on its buses and brought in a better frequency of service and reliability which the Leicester city council bus service could not offer.

Mr. Moore

As is so often the case, my hon. Friend is right in every detail.

Mr. Mason

Does the Minister accept that the truth about bus deregulation in south Yorkshire is that it has resulted in major fare increases, a loss of passengers, a worse service in the towns and disastrous services in rural areas? Who, therefore, has benefited?

Mr. Moore

The ratepayers might question the right hon. Gentleman's point. For some considerable time south Yorkshire has been paying £60 per head for each man, woman and child for its subsidised services.