HC Deb 13 April 1999 vol 329 c10
6. Mr. Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam)

What plans he has to review the arrangements for concessionary travel in Greater London. [78821]

The Minister for Transport in London (Ms Glenda Jackson)

Subject to the passage of the Greater London Authority Bill, provision will be made to continue arrangements, including a reserve free travel scheme which ensures that London's pensioners and eligible disabled persons continue to enjoy the benefits of concessionary travel.

Mr. Burstow

Does the Minister understand that, if just one of London's 33 boroughs refuses to support the concessionary fares scheme, it falls, and, as a consequence, a reserve scheme comes in which costs more, starts later in the day and excludes the use of the railways? Will the Minister, therefore, legislate to ensure that the freedom pass is safeguarded so that, if the worst happens and London's boroughs do not agree among themselves, we can guarantee to Londoners that they will not be the ones to lose out?

Ms Jackson

The whole point of the reserve scheme is that it guarantees a concessionary fares scheme for pensioners and disabled persons. We will, of course, listen to anyone who wishes to improve the present scheme and will react accordingly.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)

Does my hon. Friend accept that the present reserve scheme is out of date—I think that it goes back to 1985—and depends on the powers that were put in place on the abolition of the GLC? Will my hon. Friend consider bringing that scheme more up to date so that, if we fail to obtain agreement, we at least have a reserve scheme that matches today's conditions, not those of 1985?

Ms Jackson

The date to which my hon. Friend refers is 1984. As I have already said, we shall listen to anyone who comes forward with improvements to the existing scheme to ensure that pensioners and disabled persons in London can rest assured that their concessionary travel is secure.