HL Deb 26 July 1988 vol 500 cc148-9

2.46 p.m.

Lord Teviot asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress is being made with the Transport and Road Research Laboratory's bus registration database, and to what extent it is being used to monitor the effects of bus deregulation.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, some 30 reports have already been published on the basis of information supplied from the database. A further comprehensive report covering the first year of deregulation will be published next month.

Lord Teviot

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Will he confirm that the TRRL is not continuing with the registration of bus services? What do the Government propose to put in its place to provide this information? Can the Minister inform the House what other monitoring work will be done on deregulation?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we have decided to discontinue this database because it was too expensive to maintain indefinitely. Now that deregulated bus services are well established, we shall be able to rely upon normal statistical returns from the operators to monitor developments in local bus services. I can confirm to my noble friend that the statistical branch of the Department of Transport will continue to publish statistics on a variety of matters, including vehicle kilometres run, patronage, passenger receipts, fares and so on.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, is the Minister aware that Oxford University Transport Studies Group has been commissioned by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities to carry out a three-year study into deregulation under the 1985 Act? Is he further aware that the university studies group has said that there are gross inaccuracies in the database used by TRRL? If that is so, what will happen to the future of monitoring? The Minister says that it is being carried on. I understand that these inaccuracies mainly affect deregulation in the metropolitan areas.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I was not aware that Oxford University was carrying out this study for the Association of Metropolitan Authorities; nor was I aware that it is said that there are inaccuracies in the statistics produced by the database. However, as I have said, the database is to cease. We shall continue to publish statistics based on the figures sent into us. Those will continue to be published by the department.

Lord Barnett

My Lords, does the Minister place more reliance on the statistics of his department than apparently the Department of Trade and Industry is prepared to place on its statistics in relation to imports?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that is a very different question. In this situation we were receiving two sets of statistics: one set provided by the database of the TRRL and one set produced by the department. That seemed to be a waste of resources.