HL Deb 26 April 1990 vol 518 cc662-4

3.12 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make it a condition of the appointment of a member of the board of London Regional Transport that on one working day of each week the director concerned shall travel exclusively by public transport.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, London Regional Transport board members already have adequate and regular experience of travelling by public transport. Two of the three full-time members travel to work by public transport and the third member uses London Transport's services whenever appropriate. One member, who has a PSV licence, goes even further and regularly drives buses in service. Therefore the Government conclude that no useful purpose would be served by the imposition of the suggested condition.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that rather entertaining Answer. Can he confirm that the distinguished gentlemen use public transport during the rush hour when they have an opportunity to share the miseries of many of their fellow countrymen? Secondly, can he confirm that the gentleman who is a bus driver is in a very privileged position because he at least has a reserved seat?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I suppose that he also has an interest in getting to his destination. On the first part of my noble friend's question, those members certainly travel in the rush hour. So far as concerns the bus driver, he regularly drives buses in service. He and his colleagues on the board of LRT make a point of travelling on their bus services as frequently as possible.

Lord Grimond

My Lords, is the Minister aware that his Answer shows a very welcome improvement over the years in the conduct of the authority? Will he now consider extending this admirable suggestion still further and apply it to Ministers of the Crown, and in particular to the Secretary of State for Transport and his immediate minions?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I can tell the House that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport regularly travels on public transport in London.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, in view of the frustration of the travelling public on London's Underground in particular, and bearing in mind the question of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, would it not be helpful if the director of London Regional Transport stopped travelling on London's Underground and buses?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I do not think so. I believe that it would have the reverse effect.

Viscount St. Davids

My Lords, has the noble Viscount noted the old saying that the farmer's boots make the best manure? Has he also noted that every chairman of a nationalised industry so far has shortly afterwards left the Labour Party?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I cannot find a connection between that question and the one on the Order Paper.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, does the noble Viscount agree that there is increasing concern by the travelling public in London that the policy on public transport is one of make do and mend and that the mending, in particular of escalators, seems to take an inordinate amount of time?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, the last time that I answered a Question on this issue I was able to tell the House that there had been a considerable improvement in maintaining and repairing escalators. That improvement is continuing.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, does that answer cover the escalator on the westbound section of Sloane Square Underground? It has been out of action for three months and shows no signs of ever being put back.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I do not have the detailed information in front of me. However, I shall certainly draw that to the attention of the chairman of LUL.