HC Deb 29 March 1993 vol 222 cc17-8
29. Ms Quin

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to extend the citizens charter into new areas of public services.

Mr. Robert Jackson

The citizens charter principles extend to all areas of public service. We will, however, publish new standards of service in 1993 in charters for child support, for the local environment and for further and higher education. Existing service standards—for example, in primary and secondary education—will be increased to reflect improvements in the delivery of public services.

Ms Quin

Has the Minister any plans to give disabled people a better deal through citizens charters? Will he consider the position of one of my constituents, whose journey by rail on a Sunday was disrupted by repairs? After waiting for a long time, he was forced to accept a lengthy bus journey. That proved difficult for him because there were no facilities for disabled people. Will the Minister review the charters to ascertain how he can give disabled people a better deal?

Mr. Jackson

We had a useful exchange on this issue when questions to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster were last before the House and the matter was raised by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), who is sitting next to the hon. Lady. I tried to explain then that the Government had considered the possibility of introducing a charter for people with disabilities. We concluded that the best way to handle problems of the sort that she described was to ensure that, where appropriate, the interests of disabled people are taken into account in the creation of every charter. If the hon. Lady wishes to contact me about the constituency case to which she referred, I will do what I can to ascertain what best can be established.

Mr. Fabricant

Does my hon. Friend believe that it might be a useful exercise to extend citizens charters to local government, especially where there has been corruption and even, possibly, the Transport and General Workers Union?

Mr. Jackson

My hon. Friend makes a good point. It would be appropriate to extend the citizens charter to areas of local government. I say that in the light of this comment in Tribune: Labour local government is lack-lustre and incompetent. In a few cases it is simply corrupt and nepotistic. This is nothing new. Ineffectual or rotten Labour councils … have been a feature of British political life for as long as anyone can remember. The way to put that right is to have a proper charter for Labour local authorities.

Mr. Cryer

If the Minister extends his charter marks into transport, will the West Yorkshire passenger transport authority and Labour-controlled Bradford council be given a charter mark if they restore the homerunner bus service for women? The service was established with Home Office money to provide safe and secure transport for women travelling late at night. It is facing cancellation because of the withdrawal of Home Office money. If Labour-controlled councils continue to provide that service despite the great difficulties that they face as a result of central Government cuts, will they be given a charter mark, or are charter marks given only to Tory-controlled organisations?

Mr. Jackson

As it happens, this is not a question about charter marks. If the hon. Gentleman is aware of any organisation in his constituency that should apply for a charter mark, we hope that it will do so.

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